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Category:    Home > Reviews > Rock > Multi-Channel Music > Elton John - Madman Across The Water (SACD)

Elton John – Madman Across The Water

(Super Audio Compact Disc)


PCM 2.0: B     DSD 2.0: B+     DSD 5.1: A-     Music: A-



Just before he really broke through as an unstoppable phenomenon, Elton John’s third solo outing did not have the initial success it should have.  Madman Across The Water (1971) barely broke the Top Ten and had only one Top 40 hit, but as the rest of the world caught up with John, they caught up to this album.  The songs are as follows:


1)     Tiny Dancer – Originally a single that missed the Top 40, this is now recognized as one of the great John/Taupin love ballads and radio more than made up for their mistake later.  It is beautifully written, sung and has a beautiful music arrangement to back it up.

2)     Levon – Not remembered as much as it should be, this was the only hit from the album, barely making the Top 25!  Now we know it was one of the most challenging, interesting and clever of the John/Taupin collaborations.  John’s impassioned voice and dead-on storytelling are totally convincing and make this yet another classic.

3)     Razor Face – I always liked this one, which was an odd song with an odd title that worked.  This is a fan favorite that is still oddly picking up slowly, more and more in popularity.  Great record!

4)     Madman Across The Water – The title song is just brilliant.  A masterpiece of self-reflection, voyeurism and despair, of accepting one as different and the consequences of not being able to connect to others as a result.

5)     Indian Sunset – Songs about Native Americans became part of a cycle in American Pop Music at the time, and this is one of the very best.  Unlike the bolder-than-credited Half-Breed by Cher or somewhat novel Indian Reservation by Paul Revere & The Raiders, this song is very realistic from beginning to end.  It is as great now as it ever was.

6)     Holiday Inn – Another Country/Pop/Rock gem that happens to take place at the famed chain, telling the story of a Rock-loving drifter.  John is again totally convincing as the character, proving he may be an underrated acting talent as well.

7)     Rotten Peaches – A great record that ties together memories of times missed with mortality, combining Rock and Gospel sensibilities.

8)     All The Nasties – The country boy/city boy split later revisited in Honky Cat is addressed in this subtle Country/Gospel gem.

9)     Goodbye – A beautiful wrap-up song about wanting to love and losing it.



Years ago, Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs had issued this as one of their coveted Original Master Recording 24-karat Gold CDs, a title which has commanded some serious dollars.  With this SACD, that should change.  The CD tracks here are at least as good, while the DSD 2.0 and especially 5.1 mixes are stunning.  Greg Penny once again delivers an amazing soundfield that does justice to the music and never overdoes anything.  Vocals are never too forward, nothing is harsh and the instruments never sound out of place.  Tiny Dancer is opened up like never before, while Levon gains a new power and the title song new poignancy that was probably intended all along.  You have got to hear it to believe it.  Again, another Elton John back catalog title becomes a must-have SACD for any serious collection.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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