Elton John - Madman Across The Water

Limited 180 Gram Heavyweight Vinyl Remaster

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Madman Across The Water is the fourth studio album by British singer-songwriter Elton John, originally released in November 1971 via DJM Records.

Elton John was a rock star on the rise when he started working on Madman Across The Water in early 1971 - and an artist determined to change course with his music.

Working at a torrid pace throughout 1969 and 1970, Elton and his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin had released a slew of recordings, and seen Elton’s commercial profile rise steadily along the way. But as evidenced by his first live album, 11-17-70, there was something of a disconnect between his stage presence and his studio sound, owed partly to the fact that his live band - bassist Dee Murray and drummer Nigel Olsson - weren’t the core combo he used when it came time to put his songs to tape.

That decision wasn’t Elton’s. Like a lot of young performers, he hadn’t yet been able to claim complete creative control over his records, and neither his label nor his producer, Gus Dudgeon, were convinced his band were a better fit for the material than professional session players. When he set about working on Madman, he was only able to work them in for one cut - a situation that, while undeniably frustrating to the strong-willed star, paid future dividends when it came time to record the title track.

The title track had originally been recorded and discarded during the sessions for 1970 Tumbleweed Connection, with guitarist Mick Ronson sitting in. For the sessions that produced the new version, Dudgeon recommended hiring a far less famous player: Davey Johnstone, who’d come across Dudgeon’s mixing desk when he produced an album for Johnstone’s old band Magna Carta. Elton took Dudgeon’s suggestion, bringing Johnstone into the fold for a handful of tracks on Madman - and rounding out his classic band line-up in the process.

If Elton’s band had yet to truly come together, his songwriting maturity was developing by leaps and bounds. Bolstered by Paul Buckmaster’s distinctive string arrangements, the Madman’s nine tracks blend a baroque aesthetic with strains of blues, rock, and a dash of country - a sound that would really start to see refinement in his albums released over the next decade, but still sounded remarkably assured in its early form. Given that he was on his third album in less than a year, it was also impressively deep with strong material.

Although Madman Across The Water wasn’t a huge sales success for John - it extended a commercial lull for him in the U.K., topping out at No. 41, and provided another solid Top 10 hit for him in the States - the album contained some of his more enduring songs, even if they weren’t his biggest hit singles. Opening track “Tiny Dancer” would go on to become a perennial live favourite and one of his signature compositions, while “Levon” cracked the Top 30 on its way to its own exalted status in a distinguished catalogue.

Still, all that said, Elton wasn’t terribly fond of the end result. “I’d say I’ve got rid of three years of s—,” John told Sounds in early 1972. “That might sound strong, but there were three years of songs and back catalogue which we’ve finally come to an end of. I’d wanted to do this kind of uncluttered album when we cut Madman, in the end it was cut because we had to do an album, it was very painful. It was done under pressure and really tortured out of us, and I think it’s remarkable that it turned out as well as it did.”

With his next album, 1972’s Honky Château, John was finally at the point where he could start using his own band, taking another degree of control over a career that dominate pop and rock radio for years to come. Whether or not anyone understood it at the time, Madman Across The Water served to close a chapter of sorts.

“I still like that album, but really Bernie and I had hit a very odd situation when we came to cut it,” John reflected. “We had written only about eight songs that year, working on them separately, and it came to the point that there was nothing to fall back on if we’d hated one of the tracks. Normally we write about 25 numbers a year so you can tell the sort of state we were in. So Madman wrapped up the tail end of our writing, and it was the very last album of its kind we’ll ever do.”

"The Captain" thinks this is a much overlooked album in the early Elton John catalogue. There are some other hidden gems on the album that have been been included from time to time in his live shows, including "Holdiay Inn" with Davey Johnstone on mandolin and "Indian Sunset", which is a regular set piece in his duo shows with Ray Cooper. "All The Nasties" features a great choral backing and builds to an intense finish, with piano and strings closing out the album on the beautiful "Goodbye". Also featured on the album is a young Rick Wakeman who plays organ on three of the tracks.

Check out the tracks: “Levon”; “Tiny Dancer”; "Madman Across The Water"; "Indian Sunset"; "Holiday Inn"; "All The Nasties" and "Goodbye".

This Limited LP with remastered audio and reproduced original artwork, including booklet is pressed in Germany on 180 gram heavyweight vinyl.

(602557070866_1)

Tracklisting:

 

 

Title

Time

A1

Tiny Dancer

6:15

A2

Levon

5:22

A3

Razor Face

4:44

A4

Madman Across The Water

5:56

B1

Indian Sunset

6:45

B2

Holiday Inn

4:17

B3

Rotten Peaches

4:56

B4

All The Nasties

5:08

B5

Goodbye

1:48

SKU 602557070866_1
Record Label Mercury Records
Label / Model # Universal
Catalogue Number 5707086
Country DE - Germany
Release Date (Year) 14 April 2017
Original Release Date (Year) 05 November 1971
Barcode # 0602557070866
Shipping Weight 0.4000kg
Shipping Width 0.010m
Shipping Height 0.314m
Shipping Length 0.314m
Shipping Cubic 0.000986m3
Type New
Format Limited Edition LP Record, 180 Gram Heavyweight Vinyl, Gatefold Sleeve with Textured Cover, Remastered Audio, Reissue, Original Album Artwork Replicated with 11 Page Booklet
Vinyl Colour Black
Genre Rock
Genre Pop Rock
Genre Classic Rock
Format VINYL LP

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