558 476-2 Ice On Fire
Produced by Gus Dudgeon
Released on November 1985
UK CHART POSITION #3 . . . US CHART POSITION #48
. . . GOLD RECORD
Find it at GEMM
558 476-2 cover
[high resolution scan]

K ronomyth 23.0: STICKS = KNOCKS. This is Sir Elton in his sartorial elephance, making 80s pop/R&B with lyricist Bernie Taupin and an “A” guest list. Ice on Fire produced a handful of singles, none of them better than “Nikita,” which provides the line “With eyes that looked like ice on fire.” Unfortunately, the album begins with the singularly awful “This Town,” producer Gus Dudgeon conjuring the worst nightmares of Langer and Winstanley. The record rights itself soon after, culminating in the nearly flawless “Nikita,” only to sink back into mediocrity once more. While Ice on Fire is an uneven affair, Elton and Bernie can still be counted on for intelligent ballads (“Cry To Heaven”), toe-tappers (“Soul Glove,” “Candy By The Pound”) and the occasional surprise (“Satellite” is an 80s synth/funk song that actually works). In a strange sort of Dorian Gray twist, the old Elton was quickly vanishing from his own product just as the visible Elton was vanishing on his album covers, wrapped up like Claude Rains in hat, high collar and glasses. While this is one of his better albums from the 80s, that’s as backhanded a compliment as “Elton’s best live album.” It’s not poorly put together, and might have been regarded as a return to form with better track placement. However, Elton has always struggled with unflattering angles, dating back to “First Episode at Heinton,” and here it’s the opening track (as poorly paired a match of music and lyrics as you’ll find in the Elton/Bernie oeuvre), a melodramatic moon ballad (Pino Palladino sounded so much better with Joan Armatrading) and a ridiculous roll call at the end of “Wrap Her Up” (Nancy Reagan, really?). Ultimately, this is a mixed bag of ice with a few warm entries to please fans. For the rest of us, spare yourself all this Geffen nonsense and pick up Elton John’s Greatest Hits Vol. 3. The original CD included a duet with Millie Jackson, “Act of War,” while the remastered reissue includes “The Man Who Never Died,” an instrumental homage to John Lennon that suggests an elegant cousin to “Song For Guy,” and a few lively live tracks that appeared as B sides on the original singles.

558 476-2 picture sleeve
558 476-2 picture sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. THIS TOWN
  2. CRY TO HEAVEN
  3. SOUL GLOVE
  4. NIKITA
  5. TOO YOUNG
  6. WRAP HER UP
  7. SATELLITE
  8. TELL ME WHAT THE PAPERS SAY
  9. CANDY BY THE POUND
  10. SHOOT DOWN THE MOON
  11. (Original CD bonus track:) ACT OF WAR

    CD reissue bonus tracks
  12. THE MAN WHO NEVER DIED
  13. RESTLESS (LIVE)
  14. SORRY SEEMS TO BE THE HARDEST WORD (LIVE)
  15. I'M STILL STANDING (LIVE)

    Amazingly, there are no songwriting credits listed on the 1998 CD reissue

CREDITS

ELTON JOHN -- piano, vocals, Yamaha GS piano, synthesizers
ALAN CARVELL -- backing vocals
KIKI DEE -- backing vocals
DAVEY JOHNSTONE -- electric guitar, backing vocals, Spanish guitar, synth guitar, synthesizer
KATIE KISSOON -- backing vocals
FRED MANDEL -- synthesizers, keyboards, sequencers, electric guitar, finger clicks, arrangements
ONWARD INTERNATIONAL HORNS:
  DAVID BITELLI -- tenor sax, baritone sax, horn arrangements
  RAUL D'OLIVEIRA -- trumpets
  PAUL SPONG -- trumpets
  RICK TAYLOR -- trombone, bass trombone, horn arrangement
BERNIE TAUPIN -- lyrics
PETE WINGFIELD -- backing vocals
John Deacon -- bass (5)
Gus Dudgeon -- horn arrangements, Simmons drums, arrangements, mixing
Deon Estus -- bass (3,7)
Mel Gaynor -- drums (3,7)
Nik Kershaw -- electric guitar (4,7)
Dave Mattacks -- drums, military snare
George Michael -- backing vocals (4,6)
Charlie Morgan -- drums
James Newton-Howard -- string arrangement (3,6)
Pino Palladino -- bass (10)
David Paton -- bass
Nick Pentelow -- tenor sax (9)
Chris Pyne -- trombone (9)
Frank Ricotti -- conga, tambourine, shaker, timpanis, cymbals, vibes
Sister Sledge -- backing vocals (1)
Bob Sydor -- tenor sax (3)
Roger Taylor -- drums (5)
Pete Thomas -- tenor sax (9)
Phil Todd -- alto sax (6)
Paul Westwood -- bass
Stuart Epps -- engineer
Graham Dickson -- mixing
Terry O'Neill -- photography
David Larkham/The Cream Group -- design

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK November 1985 Rocket LP/CS HISPD/REWIND-26 lyric sleeve
US November 1985 Geffen LP/CS GHS/M5G-24077 lyric sleeve
US November 1985 Geffen CD 24077-2 w. bonus track
AUSL/BRA/GER/NET 1985 Rocket LP 826213-1 lyric sleeve
CAN 1985 Geffen LP XGHS 24077 lyric sleeve
JPN 1985 Rocket LP 28PP-1014  
MEX 1985 Rocket LP LPE-15311  
YUG 1985 RTB LP ST-2223473  
US 1998 Island/Mercury CDX 558 476-2 digital remaster w. bonus tracks

 

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