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Madman Across the Water

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Album Review

Trading the cinematic aspirations of Tumbleweed Connection for a tentative stab at prog rock, Elton John and Bernie Taupin delivered another excellent collection of songs with Madman Across the Water. Like its two predecessors, Madman Across the Water is driven by the sweeping string arrangements of Paul Buckmaster, who gives the songs here a richly dark and haunting edge. And these are songs that benefit from grandiose treatments. With most songs clocking in around five minutes, the record feels like a major work, and in many ways it is. While it's not as adventurous as Tumbleweed Connection, the overall quality of the record is very high, particularly on character sketches "Levon" and "Razor Face," as well as the melodramatic "Tiny Dancer" and the paranoid title track. Madman Across the Water begins to fall apart toward the end, but the record remains an ambitious and rewarding work, and John never attained its darkly introspective atmosphere again.

Customer Reviews

One of Elton's Finest

Easily, one of Elton's finest albums. The title track is his best work. Teamed with the brilliant arranger, Paul Buckmaster, the level of genius displayed here allows this album to hold up not only well, but for the ages.

Elton's Darkest Sounding Album

Perhaps Elton’s darkest sounding album, I simply love the mood this album creates. Thanks to Paul Buckmaster’s stirring and at times, even frightening orchestral arrangements, this album is a pretty heavy affair.

Plus, there is something about the way Elton’s piano was recorded. It has such warmth and depth to it. I don’t hear this type of sound quality on any other Elton John album.

Hits like Tiny Dancer and Levon were majestic storytelling songs and instantly harken me back to a simpler time. But it’s the deep album tracks that remind me why this album is so good. Razor Face, All The Nasties, Holiday Inn and the last track, Goodbye, are excellent.

Taupin once again, paints vivid pictures with his words, as only he can. And Indian Sunset is nearly a short story set to music. This song, about the plight of the American Indian never fails to move me.

Producer Gus Dudgeon’s steady hand brought a rich sound quality (thanks also to some unique session back-up singers that resemble a choir on some songs) that I don’t think was ever repeated.

Best Elton Album

We've all heard Elton's Greatest Hits but some of the songs on his earlier albums have slipped through the cracks, which is a shame because they really are some of his finest musical compositions.

My personal favorites on this album are "Holiday Inn," "Levon," and "Razor Face." If you like Elton John and want to hear some of his best songs ever, this album is A MUST HAVE!!!!


Born: March 25, 1947 in Pinner, Middlesex, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

In terms of sales and lasting popularity, Elton John was the biggest pop superstar of the early '70s. Initially marketed as a singer/songwriter, John soon revealed he could craft Beatlesque pop and pound out rockers with equal aplomb. He could dip into soul, disco, and country, as well as classic pop balladry and even progressive rock. His versatility, combined with his effortless melodic skills, dynamic charisma, and flamboyant stage shows, made him the most popular recording artist of the '70s....
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