The Elton John CD Review

Reg Strikes Back (1988)


1.Town of Plenty
2.A Word in Spanish
3.Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters (Part 2)
4.I Don't Wanna 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

 

This release was meant to be a comeback of sorts. He hadn't released a studio album in almost two years, a long time for him. He had gotten over his throat problem the year earlier but unfortunately was still dependent on drugs. The title seemed to suggest something was changing. The album artwork was filled with the outrageous costumes he had worn over the past decade or so, and Elton insisted it was the last time anyone would see them. He was getting rid of them and changing his image, again trying to become a little more conservative in his appearance.


So how was the music? Well, it had its ups and downs. Overall this one fell into the category of being great in some areas and mediocre in others. One thing he seemed to do more on this album was he brought back the sound of the original acoustic piano, the last several years he had been into experimentation with synthesizers and the piano was all but forgotten. Although the best track, I Don't Wanna Go On With You Like That is definitely a "dance" track, perhaps it was the sound of the piano throughout that made it work. The same can be said about Poor Cow although the lyrics are quite depressing. On the softer side there are a couple of strong numbers--most notably A Word In Spanish which echoes sounds of Madrid throughout the piece. Since God Invented Girls is a tribute, lyrically and musically, to one of Elton's biggest influences--The Beach Boys. Perhaps the biggest surprise is Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters (Part Two). Lyrically, this is a brilliant continuation of the original piece written sixteen years earlier. Musically, it's much more upbeat, complete with brass section and not surprisingly it works just fine.


The other half of the album is nothing special. There's not a lot of "flow" on this album and the songs all seem thrown together. Whereas there's nothing awful amongst the other five, nothing stands out much either. Town of Plenty and Goodbye Marlon Brando seem very forced, and he seems to almost be screaming in the microphone.

He would do better next time.


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