Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Elton John - Ice On Fire (1985)


 

Released November 1985

This was one of the slightly less patchy eighties albums from Elton John, but, being released in 1985, it is still blighted by the worst excesses of eighties electronic, synthesised keyboard instrumentation. It is very much of its time, unsurprising, as Elton very much liked to ride contemporary waves. There is supposed to be guitar (Davey Johnstone) on the album, but he is only audible occasionally. There are no "Saturday Night's Alright" riffs, that's for sure. Before this came "Breaking Hearts". After it came "Leather Jackets". This was, unfortunately a dour period which led to it being just "another Elton John album".

The opener "This Town" has a funky, disco-ish rhythm with a good rubber-band bass sound, but its horn breaks sound synthesised as do some of the drums. It is ok, but certainly nothing special. "Cry To Heaven" is lovely, actually, and it has a bit of discernible guitar. One instrument that survived unscathed during the eighties was the bass. There was a distinctive eighties bass sound, such as heard on The Christians' "Ideal World" that dominates this song beautifully and melodically. "Soul Glove" is a hooky song, but again, very much of its time. That bass line returns, wonderfully, for the gorgeous "Nikita" that rode high above the eighties fog. It is still one of my favourite Elton songs. It is evocative, atmospheric and makes me so nostalgic for those October/November days of 1985. Certain songs just do that, this is one of them.

"Too Young" is pleasant enough, but sort of forgettable. "Wrap Her Up" is a dreadful eighties dance song, featuring additional vocals from George Michael. It is positively awful, particularly in its embarrassing namechecking of various female celebrities at the end. One of my least favourite Elton songs of all time. "Satellite" is Talking Heads-ish in places and has a reasonable groove to it. It is certainly better than the previous track.

"Tell Me What The Papers Say" is pretty awful too, buried in eighties keyboards and drum dance rhythms. Sorry, but it is just pretty damn ordinary. "Coal mines closed down, nobody's working underground today..." was not one of Bernie Taupin's best lines. "Candy By The Pound" is once again nothing special. It is almost not really like the Elton John we knew from the seventies. Most artists put out some bad albums in the mid-eighties, but because Elton has always put out albums very regularly, he seemed to release more than most that were thus afflicted. "Shot Down The Moon" is a mournful, classical-sounding piano ballad and ens on a high note what really was quite a mediocre album, in retrospect.

C-

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