Photo: Rachael Paley
You’ve heard the phrase chalk and cheese, right? Well, that’s what we’d imagined on hearing the news about Leeds stompers Yard Act and their new recording of ‘100% Endurance’ with none other than the iconic Elton John. Out on the 1st of July, this is a new take on the euphoric closing track from 2022’s critically acclaimed debut album ‘The Overload’.
Contrary to our previous disbelief, Elton John is quietly becoming renowned as a fervent champion for new music of all genres – especially via his own Rocket Hour show on Apple Music 1. Yard Act frontperson James Smith described how this all came about in typical frenetic fashion: “Within our camp we have a saying: ‘Mad sh*t happens when you do art’ - it means what it means. You make stuff because you want to make it, and you throw stuff you've made into the world because you'd rather share it than not and then you leave it alone and let it do its thing. Elton John saw our stuff and he started telling the press he thought we were good and then we chatted on the phone and after a few calls I said ‘Elton, do you want to come to the studio and play piano on a tune?’ because, f**k it, it doesn't matter if he says no. Anyway, he said ‘yes’, so it doesn't matter that he didn't say no. I don't know what else to say. He's brilliant. Switched on, hilarious and an amazing musician.”
On listening to this new more orchestral variation of an already brilliant track, Elton’s input really elevates the song. Signature piano tone and illustrious chords flitter as Smith sings. Elton provides backing vocals but also his own little somewhat comical involvement, quipping – “I’ve had more hits than I have hot dinners”. It seems this tune is the marriage of two readily excited parties as Smith expands: “He (Elton) started out as a session player and after he'd laid down the piano and laid down the vocals, taking direction from us and trying everything we asked. He said something very poignant to me - ‘I love playing on other people's songs, especially these guys, because I started off as a session musician. The fascinating thing is you hear things so differently from other people, and when you hear what they hear, then it all makes sense.’”
This classy collaboration comes as the band look to be really hitting their stride. That debut album from earlier this year charted at #2 and was officially the biggest selling vinyl debut of the century. The group also announced their biggest headline show to date at London’s O2 Kentish Town Forum on the 1st of December. With stellar reviews from The Guardian, The Telegraph and Rolling Stone to name just a few, Yard Act might have more endearing collaborators sniffing around. Considering the band’s meteoric course, we for one, would not be surprised.