Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Elton John - Made In England (1995)





Released March 1995

Recorded in London

Apart from the title track, all the songs have single word titles - maybe Bernie Taupin was trying to "get back to basis". Either way, this is a little mentioned, maybe somewhat underrated album. Often this album is grouped in with "Leather Jackets" and "The Big Picture" as a poor quality Elton John album. That does it a disservice. It is nowhere near that bad. It should have garnered the clich├ęd 'return to form" headlines, but for some reason, it didn't, which is a shame.

TRACK LISTING

1. Believe
2. Made In England
3. House
4. Cold
5. Pain
6. Belfast
7. Latitude
8. Please
9. Man
10. Lies
11. Blessed

The first track, "Believe" is very John Lennon-esque in its sound and lyrical content. The title track is an absolute Elton rock classic - upbeat, riffy and catchy. One of the great forgotten Elton John classics. For me, it is almost up there with "Saturday Night's Alright" and "The Bitch Is Back". "House" has a beautiful string production (legendary string producer Paul Buckmaster, from the "Elton John" album, is back for this album). It has a lovely, full bass line too. There are some hidden gems on this album, which merit it more than one listen. Considering some of the over-synthesised dross that John put out in both the eighties and nineties, there is a stark mournfulness to this album that renders it worthy of more respect than some of the others. Plaintive ballads abound, and "Cold" is another of them. Elton's piano is far more prominent on here than it certainly had been on many others before and after this one.

"Pain" has a Stonesy introductory riff and is a lively, catchy rocker. It is good to hear Elton properly rocking again, with a proper rock backing. This would not have sounded out of place on "Caribou" or "Rock Of The Westies". Elton is on great vocal form. It is like turning the clock back twenty years. A breath of fresh air. "Belfast" begins with some classic strings sweeping all around before it turns into a tender piano ballad after nearly two minutes. This certainly would have suited the "Elton John" album. "Latitude" has a folky guitar backing, some jaunty brass and a shuffling, appealing rhythm. This is another one that harks back to the early seventies in its feel. "Please" also has that certain something too, complete with a slight Searchers-style guitar twang in its riff (or maybe it is Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers). There really is some undiscovered good material on here. It is a much better listen than the somewhat sterile "The Big Picture" from 1997.

"Man" has an Atlantic-style soul beat and an organ straight out of "When A Man Loves A Woman" in places. It mixes these influences with classic Elton balladry to give us one of the best tracks on the album. It builds up to a big gospelly ending. Great stuff. "Lies" has a grandiose, "Pinball Wizard" (Elton's version)-style rolling piano intro and morphs in to another seventies beat mid-paced rocker. "Blessed" is an atmospheric ballad, with a lovely string melody underpinning it, a great vocal and a sumptuous bass line. Give this album a listen, you will not be disappointed, if you like seventies Elton.

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