The Epic 2017 Project #131: 170511
Elton John – Madman across the water (1971)
This was Elton’s last album to feature his regular touring band (Dee Murray and Nigel Olsson) on only a single song. Later band member, percussionist Ray Cooper, makes his first though. As with allsongs during this period, the lyrics were penned by Elton’s writing partner, Bernie Taupin. This was the last album to be recorded at London’s Trident Studios, although subsequent albums would be remixed or overdubbed there. Caleb Quaye and Roger Pope wouldn’t play with John again until Rock of the Westies in 1975, following Murray and Olsson’s departure from the band.
Madman Across the Water only reached No.41 on the UK Albums Chart, spending just two weeks there, and has been the lowest-charting album of his career to date. The album fared better in North America, peaking at No.8 on the US Billboard Top Pop Albums and placing at No.10 on the year-end list of 1972. It received Gold by the RIAA in February 1972, achieving $1 million in sales at wholesale value just in the United States.
The title song was set to be released on John’s previous album Tumbleweed Connection. However, it was set aside and was re-recorded for this album. The earlier version (with Mick Ronson on guitar) was included on the remastered Tumbleweed Connection CD.
When it was released in ‘The Classic Years’ collection, it was the first album not to feature any bonus tracks. One known track recorded at the time, “Rock Me When He’s Gone”, was released on the 1992 compilation Rare Masters. The song was written for and recorded by one of John’s long-time friends, Long John Baldry. This was John’s first album in which he plays his piano and no other keyboards and the first album on which Davey Johnstone played, a role that would continue for decades, and he contributed acoustic guitar, mandolin and sitar; he would join John’s band full-time for Honky Château.
Madman across the water was Elton’s fourth studio album