MCA-37064 Honky Chateau
Produced by Gus Dudgeon
Released on May 19, 1972
UK CHART POSITION #2 . . . US CHART POSITION #1 . . . PLATINUM RECORD
Find it at GEMM
MCA-37064 cover
[high resolution scan]

H onky Chateau marks the beginning of Elton’s boogaloo phase, kicking off a string of seven consecutive #1 albums. The album is also important as the first to feature a backing band rather than a rotating cast of characters, Elton having settled on guitarist Davey Johnstone and a rhythm section of Nigel Olsson and Dee Murray. As with most of his classics albums, Honky Chateau houses a brilliant ballad (“Rocket Man”), an irrepressible rocker (“Honky Cat”) and filler of varying merit. Although both a critical and commercial success, Chateau isn’t vintage Elton in my book. Yes, “Honky Cat” is an absolute hoot, complete with a kickin’ horn section. And Gus Dudgeon finally finds the perfect space vehicle for Elton with “Rocket Man.” Yet his next album, even the maligned Caribou, had two great songs to recommend it. Can you really make a case that “Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters” or “Slave” swing the balance scales decisively in favor of Chateau? I couldn’t. The boogaloo tunes (“Susie,” “Amy,” “Hercules”) are what stay with me when the hits are over, much like those mid-period John Lennon albums (Mind Games, Walls and Bridges). “Mellow” is essentially a rewrite of “Razor Face,” while the gospel and country songs don’t ring true this time. What I hear on Honky Chateau is the beginning of the Elton assembly line being primed for seven years of predictable (albeit occasionally outstanding) product. Of course, cynicism hadn’t set in for most critics, who were probably glad that Elton’s energy was being focused on songs rather than some sprawling concept album (it was dicey there for a little while). I would tell you that two songs do not make a great album (unless that album happens to be called Close To The Edge). Honky Chateau is a good album with two great songs, which is why Greatest Hits albums were invented. Well, that and greed.

TRACK LISTING

  1. HONKY CAT    5:12
  2. MELLOW    5:30
  3. I THINK I'M GONNA KILL MYSELF    3;32
  4. SUSIE (DRAMAS)    3:24
  5. ROCKET MAN (I THINK IT'S GOING TO BE A LONG LONG TIME)    4:40
  6. SALVATION    3:26
  7. SLAVE    4:20
  8. AMY    4:02
  9. MONA LISAS AND MAD HATTERS    5:00
  10. HERCULES    5:20

    CD reissue bonus track
  11. SLAVE (ALTERNATIVE VERSION)

    All selections written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin

CREDITS

ELTON JOHN -- vocals, electric and acoustic piano, organ
DAVEY JOHNSTONE -- guitars, banjo, mandolin, backing vocals
DEE MURRAY -- bas, backing vocals
NIGEL OLSSON -- drums, tambrouine, backing vocals
Madeline Bll -- bcaking vocals (6)
Jacques Bolognesi -- trombone (1)
Jean Louis Chautemps -- saxophone (1)
Ray Cooper -- congas (8)
Gus Dudgeon -- brass arrangement (1), rhino whistle and backing vocals (11)
Alain Hatot -- saxophone (1)
Tony Hazzard -- backing vocals (6)
David Hentschel -- ARP synthesizer (5,6)
Ivan Julien -- trumpet (1)
Jean-Luc Ponty -- electric violin (2,8)
"Legs" Larry Smith -- tap dance (3)
Larry Steel -- backing vocals (6)
Lisa Strike -- backing vocals (6)
Ken Scott -- engineer
Steve Brown -- co-ordinator
Ed Caraeff -- cover photography
Michael Ross -- sleeve design, photography
Michael Childers -- photography
J.F. Rault -- photography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK May 1972 DJM LP DJLPH-423 gatefold cover
US May 19, 1972 Uni LP UNI-93135 gatefold cover
ARG 1972 Fermata LP SLF-223  
JPN 1972 DJM LP K22P-205  
US 1973 MCA LP MCA-2017 gatefold cover
UK   DJM LP PRICE-101  
US 1980 MCA LP MCA-37064  
US   MCA LP/CS MCA/MCAC-1611  
US   Mobile Fidelity CD UDCD-536 gold disc remaster
JPN 1995 Mercury CDX PHCR-4016 digital remaster w. bonus track
UK 2004 Mercury CDX 9824 030 SACD remaster w. bonus track
US 2004 Island CDX B0003609-36 SACD remaster w. bonus track
JPN 2006 Universal CDX UICY-9105 w. bonus track
JPN 2008 Universal CDX UICY-93669 SHMCD remaster w. bonus track

 

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