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.


1. Town Of Plenty
2. A Word In Spanish
3. Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters
4. I Don't Want To Go On With You Like That
5. Japanese Hands
6. Goodbye Marlon Brando
7. The Camera Never Lies
8. Heavy Traffic
9. Poor Cow
10. Since God Invented Girls                                                                    

"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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