Pleasantly country, but lacking in variety
Tnahpellee | Australia | 08/22/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The album 'Madman across the water' is quite pleasant and enjoyable, with a few ripping tracks.
The sound overall of the album is acoustic rock and it's also very heavily orchestrated. The production is interesting and effective. It's kind of a product of it's time, folky singer/songwriter music, but Elton adds touches to it to make it better and more interesting than your average folk rock.
This is a bit of a slump for Paul Buckmaster, and, interestingly, he seemed to have a diminished role for 'Honky Chateau'. He's done a great work with the Cinematic Epic 'Indian Sunset', with plenty of dramatic orchestration, and also does well with some avant-garde strings in the title track and the gentle orchestration of the romantic ballad 'Tiny Dancer' which works so well. But a lot of the arrangements sound the same, and overall the arrangements aren't as impressive or inspiring as they were on the previous two recordings.
I actually tend to favour the less popular tracks on this one. I loved the melodious ode to Native Americans, 'Indian Sunset', the hippie 'Holiday Inn', complete with Gospel Singers and all sorts of guitars like Mandolin, and 'All the Nasties'. It's often said that this is a weak attempt at recreating 'Hey Jude', but I think it's better than that, I like the operatic singers too, that's a nice touch. Give credit to the gorgeous hit 'Tiny Dancer', very melodic, and the title track, with it's angry, trudging rhythm section and eccentric nature.
I wasn't as keen on the other tracks. 'Rotten peaches' has a great chorus but along with 'Levon' and especially 'Razor Face', kind of lack melody. Still, they are nice folk ditties that waft gently through your ears as they play, creating a nice atmosphere. Give a shout to Elton, his playing here is very good, and his vocals are very much on the money and express the sentiment of the lyrics very well.
All in all a good album that is pleasant to listen to, and a fair amount of inspiration, though personally I really like some tracks and am not so keen on a couple of others, so three stars, maybe three and a half. Definitely one of his more daring albums, but too many songs sound the same and / or have the same arrangement."