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Still my runaway choice for the best early Elton John album,
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Rezension bezieht sich auf: Madman Across the Water [Vinyl LP] (Vinyl)
When I was going through my 1000+ CDs to look for ideas for the Music unit of the Popular Culture class I teach, I have come to the conclusion that "Madman Across the Water" was a seminal album in my life. I seriously started listening to FM radio in the early Seventies because that was the only place to hear "Levon," which was my favorite song for about half a year (I believe it was replaced by "Knife's Edge" by Emerson, Lake & Palmer). Consequently, the shift in my musical appreciation from Top Forty to more sophisticated musical forms can be traced to this particular song Elton John song and this special album.
Of course, once I had enough loose change I bought the album and promptly proceeded to play the first side about five times as often as I flipped it over and played side two; having the CD means I tend to listen to the whole thing all the way through. I would argue that "Tiny Dancer," "Levon," "Razor Face," and "Madman Across the Water" equals the best side of any Elton John record. I also used the title track as part of a poetry unit for English class (ah, those liberal days of yore). The movie "Almost Famous" has made "Tiny Dancer" popular again, but anybody who listens to this CD is going to find out there are some other great songs too. In addition to John's music and Bernie Taupin's lyrics, I think credit has to be given to Paul Buckmaster, whose sweeping string arrangements never worked better in giving John's songs color and depth. "Madman Acros the Water" is Elton John's darkest album, although it is more a sense of brooding and forboding rather than anger.
"Madman Across the Water" made it to #8 on the Billboard album chart. Since most of the songs were five minutes or longer, this was really the last Elton John album before he started turning out a string of Top 40 hits. But the best albums on any Elton John album were almost always the songs you never heard on AM radio. Ironically, given its place in my musical history, "Levon" made its way onto the third volume of Elton John's greatest hits collection even though it only made it to #24 on the single charts in 1972 ("Tiny Dancer" made it to only #41). Just another example of the cherished memories of our youth turning out to be phantasms when seen in the harsh light of day (or commercial music industry interests).