Despite a demanding record deal, Elton John and Bernie Taupin kept up and released some great albums, this the pick of the bunch.
Written by: Explorer
ARTIST: Elton John
ALBUM: Madman Across The Water
SERIAL: DJLPH 420
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Elton John – vocals, piano, writer * Bernie Taupin – writer * Dee Murray – bass, backing vocals * Nigel Olsson – drums, backing vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 Tiny Dancer * 02 Levon * 03 Razor Face * 04 Madman Across The Water * 05 Indian Sunset * 06 Holiday Inn * 07 Rotten Peaches * 08 All The Nasties * 09 Goodbye
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Before the daft and outlandish costumes (and the drug excesses), Elton John was seen as a simple? singer/songwriter. ‘Madman’ was his fourth studio album, and being tied into a demanding record deal which effectively had Elton recording two albums a year.
It’s quite incredible to think nowadays how it was possible to do this but Elton and co-writer Bernie Taupin managed to keep up and released some truly exceptional albums in the early 70’s, with this being the pick of the bunch.
The album kicks off with ‘Tiny Dancer’ a big hit in the US at the time and forever immortalised in the Brilliant Rock Flick ‘Almost Famous’, and is quite possibly one of his finest songs. The rest of the album is made up of superb reflective songs which see his songwriting partner Taupin really hit his stride.
Choice cuts being ‘Indian Sunset’ which tells the tale of the Native American Indian and is a thing of real beauty. ‘Levon’ apparently written about The Band‘s Levon Helm (although that’s disputed) is also a triumph of songwriting and a perfect example of where Elton and Bernie were at with their influences.
The rest of the album in terms of sheer quality never dips, from the evocative title track, and the mandolin on ‘Holiday Inn’ which send shivers. Produced by, the then ever-present Gus Dudgeon and utilising the talents of Caleb Quaye, arranger Paul Buckmaster and a slew of top session musicians from that time, this is prime time Elton John.
You don’t need me (or anyone else for that matter) to tell you what happened to Elton’s career since those days. I think it’s a bit of a shame that his early albums seemingly get forgotten and he is now seen as just tabloid fodder (well here in the UK at least) and his private life being seen as more entertaining than the music he makes.
He has though sporadically come up with the goods, his collaboration with Leon Russell being a relatively recent highlight. Up to and including ‘Captain Fantastic’, Elton’s catalogue is essential listening and a lesson in consummate songwriting/storytelling.