Sunday, 19 August 2018

Elton John - Reg Strikes Back (1988)

Released June 1988

This album was hyped very much as Elton John's "comeback" album after some torrid years in his personal life - the break up of his odd marriage and a huge cocaine consumption. It was unfairly criticised by many in the media and bracketed with 1986's execrable "Leather Jackets". That was an unfair comparison. This album is a million miles better. The difference between both is light and day.

"Town Of Plenty" is a catchy, upbeat opener, with, unfortunately, a synthesiser riff, but it is a good one, and the lyrics show a vast improvement on Bernie's last incomprehensibly bad effort on the previous album. Elton's voice is one fine form now, after a successful operation. This track is a real breath of fresh air, after the last outing. "A Word In Spanish" is an evocative, melodic and appealing Latin-flavoured ballad. Re-recording a beautiful classic like "Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters" from "Honky Chateau" was usably not the best of ideas, but if you take this punchy, horn-driven bluesy thumper as a completely new track, it works fine. The trumpet solo is impressive. It just doesn't match the original, of course, so it is best viewed separately, if that is possible. I like the version of it, though, it has some soul, and power. Similarly, "I Don't Want To Go On With You Like That" is a singalong slice of insistent piano and drum boogie, with another great vocal. Many have put this track down, why I am not quite sure. I have always liked it.

"Japanese Hands" is a lovely, atmospheric song, that sees Bernie Taupin back on lyrical form. Heaven knows what happened to his muse in 1986. He was back now, no doubting that. This is a fine song. You feel both Elton and Bernie have their mojos back. "Goodbye Marlon Brando" has a welcome seventies-style guitar riff and rocks, healthily. It also has some cynically witty lyrics. "The Camera Never Lies" is another rocking corker of a track, Elton back to his best. There really was nothing like this on "Leather Jackets". Some great boogie-woogie piano on it too. This is more like it.

"Heavy Traffic" harks back in places to "Honky Chateau" in its slightly funky sound. "Poor Cow" has a decidedly odd vocal from Elton, but it has another vibrant urban funky flavour to it. "Since God Invented Girls" is a haunting, moving ballad to end on. This was, contrary to much popular opinion, an impressive album. It has good sound quality too.


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