Where have all the good times gone....
Released April 1982
Recorded in Paris and Montserrat
Running time 42.31
This is one of Elton John's unfortunately half-baked albums that were juxtaposed with good ones throughout the eighties. He still had not properly reunited with Bernie Taupin (he wrote lyrics on five of the tracks) and the results are predictably uneven.
1. Dear John
2. Spiteful Child
3. Ball And Chain
4. Legal Boys
5. I Am Your Robot
6. Blue Eyes
7. Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)
9. Where Have All The Good Times Gone
10. All Quiet On The Western Front
Dear John starts off with a Saturday Night's Alright drum shot and is a riff-laden, upbeat rocker, but is somewhat blighted, as many eighties recordings were, by synthesisers in the backing. Elton's vocal is strong and confident and, while the track is enjoyable, it is nothing special. It has a nice bit of piano boogie at the end, though. Spiteful Child, a John/Taupin song, again has an intro that reminds you of an older, better track, this time it is Honky Cat. Thereafter it is pretty much downhill. The song is ponderous, despite its occasional killer piano licks. It is listenable enough, but not anything that makes you particularly want to listen to it again in a hurry. Ball And Chain, again, is catchy enough, with handclaps and "doo-doo" backing vocals, but there is just something missing, that certain je ne sais quoi. It is hard to put my finger on it, however. Legal Boys is a collaboration with Sir Tim Rice and sounds like it - dramatic and theatrical, as if it were written for a musical. It actually has a bit of an appeal, particularly when the chorus kicks in.
The inane (both musically and lyrically) I Am Your Robot, astonishingly, is a John/Taupin song and probably, despite a few lively rocky riffs, best left undiscussed. Blue Eyes, of course, written with second songwriting partner Gary Osborne, is a different matter and was the tender, romantic, yearning hit single from the album. There were always one or two excellent tracks, even on these slightly under-par albums. Continuing the quality is Elton and Bernie's poignant tribute to their old friend John Lennon in Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny). It is a moving song, especially at the end, when it speaks of Lennon's Empty Garden. Elton and Osborne's Princess is actually quite appealing in a schmaltzy early eighties sort of way, with that cute little guitar bit on the chorus.
Where Have All The Good Times Gone amazingly, also starts like an older song, it's Philadelphia Freedom this time. The whole song has vibes of that hit from 1975. It is a nostalgic song for times gone by and in that respect, is sort of self-perpetuating. Then, it's All Quiet On The Western Front, one of those big, piano-led slow ballads that Elton and Bernie did so well in the early/mid seventies. It sounds as if it should be on Don't Shoot Me. It is a good one, let's be honest. Big and dramatic, with one of those really moving Elton vocals. It has some killer guitar/drum interplay right at the end.
There are some good moments on the album, yet it is always labouring in the shadow of the next album, Too Low For Zero (largely because of that one's hit singles). A treading water offering. (It has an awful eighties-style cover, front and rear, too).