Wednesday, February 20, 2008

CD Review: Madman Across the Water

1) Tiny Dancer
2) Levon
3) Razor Face
4) Madman Across The Water
5) Indian Sunset
6) Holiday Inn
7) Rotten Peaches
8) All The Nasties
9) Goodbye
Elton and his team take Bernie Taupin's stories and turn them into classic tracks. This album is just great from top to bottom. It still sounds fresh 37 years after it was made.
Any album with a track like "Tiny Dancer" would be worth a listen. It starts with the instantly recognizable piano stylings of Elton John and crescendos into an epic, courtesy Gus Dudgeon's production and Paul Buckmaster's arrangement. But don't stop there.
"Tiny Dancer" is followed by an even better song, "Levon", which is structured somewhat similarly, but has a different tone. Check out Elton's singing! This is back before he messed up his voice with drugs, and he belts it out and hits those high notes as only a master can.
"Razor Face" is another track that stands out, featuring great double-tracked vocals and a face-melting accordion solo from Jack Emblow. The title track packs plenty of punch. My favorite track may be "Indian Sunset", featuring a haunting arrangement that begins a capella and builds to feature an entire orchestra that comes in and out over Elton's voice and piano.
This album explains why, by the 70s, Elton was one of the most successful musicians of all time. Each track is different from the last, from the folk-tinged "Holiday Inn" to the country-flavored "Rotten Peaches". Yet all throughout, Elton retains his distinctive style that made him a superstar.
***** out of five

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