- “Honky Cat” – 5:13
- “Mellow” – 5:32
- “I Think I’m Going to Kill Myself” – 3:35
- “Susie (Dramas)” – 3:25
- “Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)” – 4:45
- “Salvation” – 3:58
- “Slave” – 4:22
- “Amy” – 4:03
- “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” – 5:00
- “Hercules” – 5:20
Honky Château is the fifth studio album by British singer and composer Elton John.
Soon after the release of “Madman Across the Water”, the hard-working John wanted to start his next project. In this context, his tax adviser advised him not to include future albums for fiscal reasons in the UK. There were modern recording studios in Europe at that time, even outside the UK. But hardly a British artist had even thought about using them. Promising was an idea by John’s producer Gus Dudgeon: 40 kilometers north of Paris was a studio called only Strawberry and housed in the 17th century Château d’Hierouville. John drove to the castle and was more than enthusiastic. Later he remembered: “It was in the middle of nowhere, with swimming pool and tennis court. You were able to shoot in a room with candelabra dating back to the 13th century, overlooking endless fields.
hn sensed that he had artistic boundaries with his current cast, he himself as a singer on the piano, Dee Murray on bass and Nigel Olsson on drums. His producer Dudgeon introduced John to Scotsman and guitarist Davey Johnstone. John was so impressed by his guitar playing that he – contrary to his previous approach – he brought without consultation with the other two in his band. Looking at the distribution of concert earnings within the band and the associated income reduction for each of them, Murray and Olsson confronted John. However, he was not deterred and said that everyone could decide for themselves whether he wanted to go or stay.
Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics for the songs at top speed in his room at the Château. The finished text John brought directly to the piano and he composed the melody in twenty minutes. The band rehearsed the song within an hour and that same afternoon the song was finished recording. After only three weeks, the recordings were completely completed and the mixing could begin in London.
The commercially most successful title of the album was “Rocket Man”. While the song did not appear in the singles charts in Austria and Switzerland, it reached # 18 in Germany, # 6 in the US and # 2 in the UK. This made “Rocket Man” the long-awaited hit for John.
The album itself was ranked number 43 in Germany after all, in the UK it moved up to an excellent second place. In the US, however, John’s longplayer marched straight to first place, as the first of six studio albums in a row and a “Best of “Compilation and thus became probably the most important milestone in his career.
For Robert Christgau, “Honky Château” was John’s transformation from a dangerous showman to a respected professional.
John’s musical scope grew admirably, and Taupin’s lyricism gained more and more recognition. The result was a completely successful album that was clearly seen over the other releases of the time.