93120 Madman Across The Water
Produced by Gus Dudgeon
Released on November 5, 1971
Find it at GEMM
93120 cover
[high resolution scan]

Y eah, I know that you don’t think Elton John is anywhere near prog. Mock on. You can even sing a bar of “Candle in the Wind” badly if it makes you feel better. But the early albums were portentous clouds of proggishness: the strings, the symbolism, the weighty excess. Madman is the heaviest of these, like Tumbleweed before it a collection of dark tales partially populated by American pulp fiction (“Indian Sunset,” “Rotten Peaches”). The title track actually dates from the time of Tumbleweed, and pulls everything before it with it like a slow landslide. Madman begins with a pair of perennial favorites: “Tiny Dancer” and “Levon.” They’re inflated wonders, invoking Jesus and the war and whatever else they could think of to make it sound like the fate of the world hangs on love songs and lost souls. The rest of the album never rises to those heights again; there are fine album cuts like the title track, “Razor Face” (shades of Steely Dan’s dark matter), “Rotten Peaches” and “Holiday Inn.” There are also missteps, like the melodramatic “Indian Sunset,” which is almost as awful as “First Episode at Heinton” (desire to punch poet in the nose waxing, waxing, waning). These recordings date from August with the exception of two (“Levon,” Goodbye”) from February, which might have you thinking that Nigel Olsson and Dee Murray were already on board full time, but the pair in fact only provide the rhythm section on “All The Nasties.” Otherwise, Madman features a hodgepodge of hired guns and old associates: Rick Wakeman, Chris Spedding, Caleb Quaye, Davey Johnstone, B.J. Cole, Herbie Flowers, et cetera. Toss arranger Paul Buckmaster into the mix and that’s a lot of hands, all stirring a serious pot of flavorful post-Beatles/Bob Dylan popular music. Sure, some of this is hokum, but you’d be crazy not to see a boatload of talent at work in Madman’s grooves too.

MCA-1675 front cover
MCA-1675 front cover
high resolution scan]


  1. TINY DANCER    6:12
  2. LEVON    5:37
  3. RAZOR FACE    4:40
  5. INDIAN SUNSET    6:45
  6. HOLIDAY INN    4:22
  7. ROTTEN PEACHES    5:14
  8. ALL THE NASTIES    5:08
  9. GOODBYE    1:48

    All songs written by Elton John & Bernie Taupin


ELTON JOHN -- vocals, piano
Paul Buckmaster -- arranger, conductor
Tony Burrows -- backing vocals
Cantores in Ecclesia Choir -- choir
B.J. Cole -- steel guitar (1)
Roger Cook -- backing vocals
Ray Cooper -- percussion, tambourine
Terry Cox -- drums
Brian Dee -- harmonium (2)
Leslie Duncan -- backing vocals
Jack Emblow -- accordion (3)
Herbie Flowers -- bass
David Glover -- bass
Davey Johnstone -- acoustic guitar, mandolin, sitar
Robert Kirby -- choir director
Chris Laurence -- acoustic bass (5)
Diana Lewis -- A.R.P. synthesizer
Barry Morgan -- drums (2)
Dee Murray -- backing vocals
Brian Odgers -- bass (2)
Nigel Olsson -- backing vocals
Roger Pope -- drums
Caleb Quaye -- electric guitar, acoustic guitar
Chris Spedding -- electric guitar, slide guitar
Terry Steele -- backing vocals
Barry St. John -- backing vocals
Liza Strike -- backing vocals
Sue & Sunny -- backing vocals
Les Thatcher -- acoustic guitar (2)
Rick Wakeman -- organ
Steve Brown -- co-ordination
Robin Geoffrey Cable -- engineer
Ken Scott -- re-mix engineer
David Larkham -- art direction and sleeve design, booklet cover photograph, illustrations
Yanis -- front cover embroidery
Gill -- back cover embroidery
Bob Gruen -- booklet photography
Ed Caraeff -- inside jacket photograph

UK November 5, 1971 DJM LP DJLPH-420 gatefold cover, lyric booklet
US November 15, 1971 Uni LP 93120 gatefold cover, lyric booklet
JPN 1971 DJM LP FP-80393 gatefold cover, lyric booklet
ARG 1972 DJM LP LF-214  
US 1973 MCA LP MCA-2016 gatefold cover, booklet
US 1977 MCA LP MCA-3003 gatefold cover
POR 1980 Movieplay LP M.M.-8015 gatefold cover
US May 1981 MCA LP/CS MCA-1675  
JPN 1981 DJM LP K22P-204  
US 1982 MCA LP MCA-37200  
US 1994 DCC LP LPZ-2004  
UK 1995 Rocket CD 528161 digital remaster
US   Mobile Fidelity CD UDCD-516 original master recording
UK 2004 Rocket CD 9824 029 SACD


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