I’m going to try out a new feature that hopefully will get me back in the groove of writing – the “Album of the Day.” I’ve got a lot of vinyl albums, and in this digital age they tend to get lost in the shuffle. Every day, on both Facebook and my blog, I’ll post a picture of the album, plus some random thoughts about the album pictured. Sometimes it may be only a sentence or two, other times I may be inspired to write a treatise.
Since it was the first album I bought with my own money, let’s begin with Elton John’s “Honky Chateau.” Released in 1972, I got it in the spring of 1974, with a little help from a friend who ordered it from the Columbia House Record club. It’s the first of the six albums (released over a period of three years) that collectively would turn Elton in the biggest star of his time.
And it’s a good one, one of my three favorites of his. It has the hits “Rocket Man” and “Honky Cat,” but the rest of the songs are probably among his lesser known. I’m not sure that Elton ever made a perfect album, but there are three songs (aside from those already mentioned) that can be counted as among his best – “I Think I’m Gonna Kill Myself,” “Hercules” and especially “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters.” If there were any justice, the latter song would have become the Elton tune that became a staple of AOR “Adult” radio, instead of “Candle in the Wind.” It’s probably Elton’s last “simple” album, before producer Gus Dudgeon began his “throw in the kitchen sink” approach to recording. Overall, definitely recommended.
Christgau: A-. “John is here transmuted from dangerous poseur to likable pro. Paul Buckmaster and his sobbing strings are gone. Bernie Taupin has settled into some comprehensible (even sharp and surprising) lyrics, and John's piano, tinged with the music hall, is a rocker's delight.”