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Category:    Home > Reviews > Rock > Multi-Channel Music > Elton John - Honky Chateau (SACD)

Elton John – Honky Château (Super Audio Compact Disc)


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



The fourth studio album of Elton John not only continued the build-up of his career, but was a further breakout, becoming the first of seven #1 albums in a row!  Continuing his delving into Country while staying very Rock and Pop, Honky Château (1972) began Eltonmania in ways no one was expecting.  The songs that make up this classic include:


1)     Honky Cat – A brilliant Country Funk Pop Rock piece that has the main character finding the natural backwoods over the “unnatural” city, but realizes the use of religion as oppression and nature as a prison made him loose time in his life.  The slyly existential lyrics by Bernie Taupin and terrific arrangement by John are the kind of brilliant melding that made them an unstoppable force to begin with.

2)     Mellow – Living up to its name, this is a solid track that is straightforward and works nicely.  John’s piano and vocals are top notch, which is why this has been a favorite album cut for over thirty years.

3)     I Think I’m Gonna Kill Myself – This gem is one of the very first and still few effective songs about why people want to self-destruct, along with some classics from Split Enz and is truer now than ever.  That he does it in an ironically upbeat way is just genius.

4)     Susie (Dramas) – Another great cut that begins in a standard way, than takes some nice musical and vocal turns that make it come off well.

5)     Rocket Man (I Think It’s Gonna Be A Long Long Time) – No doubt that this is one of the great John/Taupin masterworks, even being referenced oddly as a dark joke as recently as Michael Bay’s action hit The Rock (1996), but it became a profound counterpart to David Bowie’s immortal Space Oddity and in an age of digital video overkill, the lyrics remember how healthy minds and souls realize how isolating and dehumanizing technology constantly is.  It is also a love song and much more, using many acoustic instruments contrary to bad songs about outer space.  Needless to say it was a huge hit and the best cut on this incredible album.

6)     Salvation – There was always a dark undertone to this record that seemed to betray its lyrics and decades later, believe that was still the intent.

7)     Slave – Whether applying to the Underground Railroad of the 1800s or Civil Rights movement in 1972, this is a great, subtle protest song with a difference.

8)     Amy – A raw love story, love song that has some edge and realism.

9)     Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters – A fan classic that just grows on you about how phony and plastic society and routines can get.

10)  Hercules – Done in a late 1950s Rock style with echo, down and dirty, in a way worthy of Jerry Lee Lewis.

11)  Slave (alternate version) – This paired-down, swifter version of track seven works better than you would think and is a bonus track on this SACD.



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.  Rocket Man is particularly impressive, sounding very much as it always has, but opened up without one flaw.  Honky Cat is livelier than ever and I Think I’m Gonna Kill Myself is even more effective.  Honky Château is a must-have back catalog SACD title because its fidelity is stunning and the masters are in outstanding shape.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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