My attempt to blog all of the entries from the book 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die
Brief Background: Madman Across the Water is Elton John’s fourth studio album. Recorded throughout most of 1971, it was released in November of that year.
What I think:
When I saw the track list for this album, I was really excited for it. It is hard to go wrong when Madman starts with two of the best pop songs ever written. The first being “Tiny Dancer”, which was released as a single in 1972 but really didn’t gain popularity for my generation until it was featured in Almost Famous. It also has a very personal memory, as myself and fifteen of my closest friends at the time drunkenly sang it over the balcony of a Madison, WI bar before a house party later in the night with many amazing bands playing. When we came back the next time, the song had magically disappeared from the jukebox. Nothing extrodinary, just a great thing to look back on. Swinging beers like you should in a drinking song. The next, is my easily my favorite Elton John song, that being “Levon”. I have no idea what to make of Levon or what makes him the subject of the lyrics, but the way John sings it makes all of that irrelevant. The song just pumps me up every time.
From there though, it’s just an alright album. “Razor Face” is a really good song, but the title of the character takes me out of it. “Indian Sunset” is a passionate song about Europeans taking land from Native Americans, but seems trite in the same fashion as those British boys playing the blues. Really the only song that comes close to the first two is “All the Nasties”, which seems like a flip of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, which will come from him…. um down the road.
Do I agree or disagree with the writers as to this being an album you must listen to? It’s a good album, but can’t sustain the level of the first two songs. Still, it has two of the best pop songs of all time and I think that is reason enough to include it.
Rating (Out of 5): 3.5
Madman Across the Water Amazon Review (Out of 5): 4.5
Is this my first time hearing this album? Yes (182/230)
Percentage of Albums that are new to me: 79%