Elton John – Madman Across the Water Album

Side one
No. Title Length
1. Tiny Dancer 6:15
2. Levon 5:22
3. Razor Face 4:44
4. Madman Across the Water 5:56
Side two
No. Title Length
5. Indian Sunset 6:45
6. Holiday Inn 4:17
7. Rotten Peaches 4:56
8. All the Nasties 5:08
9. Goodbye 1:48

Madman Across the Water is the fourth studio album by British singer and composer Elton John.

The contractual relationship between John and his music publisher made it necessary for him to record a new album. Since he was almost constantly on tour, he lacked the time to compose new titles. He had already used up the most stock of finished songs for the last album Tumbleweed Connection. Only the title song Madman Across the Water was still available to him from that time. Bernie Taupin therefore wrote texts about America, as he saw it then, and John composed time-lapse melodies. The album was recorded in the studio in just ten days.

As with all of John’s songs at the time, the lyrics were written by Bernie Taupin. In addition to John, the musicians Davey Johnstone, Dee Murray and Nigel Olsson first met with Ray Cooper. For the following album Honky Chateau they were the main musicians and also the acknowledged best cast of the Elton John band of the seventies.

It was to be John’s last album recorded at London’s Trident Studios. For the next three albums they preferred the studio Château d’Hérouville. Caleb Quaye and Roger Pope would not play with John until the second album of 1975, Rock of the Westies. After Murray and Olsson had left the Elton John Band, at the instigation of John, they received another commitment.

The publication of Madman Across the Water was almost ignored in John’s homeland. Just 41st was the long LP in the UK album charts and was only there for two weeks. It was until then the album with the least chart success of his career.

In North America, the album scored much better, reaching # 8 on the US Billboard Top Pop albums and # 10 on the year-end list in 1972. It received the Gold status of the RIAA in February 1972 and scored in the US alone it sells $ 1 million in sales. In 1998, multiple platinum status was achieved in the US with a sales volume of over 2 million units.

The title song Madman Across the Water was already being used on the Tumbleweed Connection album, but instead was re-recorded for this album. An older version of the song from the Tumbleweed recordings with Mick Ronson on guitar is included on the remastered 1995 CD Tumbleweed Connection and the 2-CD Deluxe Edition of 2008. Other artists such as Alice Cooper, Willie Nelson or Bruce Hornsby later published their own interpretations of this title.

For the first time John played exclusively on this LP LP and no other keyboards. It was also John’s first album to feature Davey Johnstone on the guitar, a role he was to take on for decades.

The title Holiday Inn was originally written for Adam Diaz. A verse of the original song was either omitted in the original recording or cut out in the subsequent editing. Among collectors, however, unofficial live recordings of the original version can be found from concerts of that time.

The cover of the album Madman Across the Water was embroidered by Janis Larkham for two weeks. She was the wife of LP Art Director David Larkham. She used the back of an old Levi’s denim jacket, the original she gave to John. Of course, there was never an album cover with elaborate embroidery on sale, just plain printed covers. For this they had a beautifully designed notebook with the lyrics. Janis himself was named as “Yanis” for this work.

The critics of that time showed little enthusiasm for John’s new LP. Despite the sometimes considered beautiful melodies (Tiny Dancer was even compared with Your Song), the lyrics were too vague and the meaning was hard to grasp. In the Rolling Stone Magazine you could read to Levon that you would probably never learn what this is about.

Also, the album contained no tunes that were promising for commercially successful singles. On the one hand, and the generally critical attitude towards Madman Across the Water, John thought about ending his career.

The title song itself, which shows a significant Leon Russell influence, led to speculation, whether it was about Richard Nixon as “Madman”. Although Taupin denied this, he was very amused by this interpretation. Tiny Dancer and Levon were the popular songs of the LP. John later said, however, that he felt most attached to the title song.