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Leather Jackets

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Album Review

Although he had re-formed his 1970s quartet and even reinstated both lyricist Bernie Taupin as well as seminal producer Gus Dudgeon earlier in the decade, Elton John failed to sustain the momentum that informed Too Low for Zero (1983), Breaking Hearts (1984), and to a lesser extent Ice on Fire (1985). Even the most ardent enthusiasts freely admit that Leather Jackets (1986) was nothing more or less than a final fulfillment of his six-album deal with Geffen Records. On top of the half-hearted material and less-than-inspired performances is increasing evidence that John's voice — which would require a potentially career-ending surgery less than a year later — is beginning to show signs of extreme fatigue and strain. While these circumstances certainly don't aid this effort, they likewise do not lessen the few bright moments that exist, including the languid and soulful "Slow Rivers" featuring a duet with Cliff Richard, the hopelessly upbeat single "Heartache All Over the World," as well as the middle-of-the-road "Don't Trust That Woman" — the latter of which is a co-composition between John (under the guise of Lady Choc Ice) and Cher and sports an opening line of "She's a real ball-buster/Don't trust her." Perhaps the most telling track is the achingly poignant mid-tempo ballad "I Fall Apart." With an understated passion and an almost reserved delivery, it hearkens back to tracks such as "Cry to Heaven" from Ice on Fire or "One More Arrow" off of Too Low for Zero. While not really a highlight per se, Queen enthusiasts should note appearances from Roger Taylor (drums) and John Deacon (bass) on the lightweight "Angeline." Over the course of the ensuing months, John reinvented himself by once again embracing his past on the two-disc Live in Australia (1987) — which spawned the international chart-topping version of "Candle in the Wind."


Born: 25 March 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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