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Elton John - Honky Château Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, Extra tracks

4.7 out of 5 stars 124 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, May 14, 1996
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

An early-'70s singer-songwriter classic and Elton's first #1! The John/Taupin mojo was workin' on this 1972 smash, producing the Top 10s Rocket Man and Honky Cat plus tender tunes like Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters .

By 1972, Elton John was already a rising star in America, although most casual listeners still identified him as part of the singer/songwriter explosion, thanks to the success of "Your Song" and "Levon." Honky Château changed all that, beginning with the success of "Honky Cat," a rousing New Orleans-ish R&B powerhouse that kicks off this terrific collection of songs. This was the album that first revealed John as a pure-pop craftsman, and he's all over the musical map on this set, moving from country-ish rock to blues-based rockers. But the best things here still might be two gorgeous ballads: "Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters" (displaying the young vocalist at his best) and the hit single "Rocket Man" (which had many rock fans debating which was the better space odyssey of the day--this or Bowie's). And lyricist Bernie Taupin was revealing a new, slightly darker side here via tunes like "I Think I'm Gonna Kill Myself." --Bill Holdship
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 14, 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, Extra tracks
  • Label: The Rocket Record Company
  • ASIN: B000001EGE
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,533 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This is my favorite Elton John album. It was also his first U.S. No. 1 album, and the first time he used his touring band of Nigel Olsson (drums), Dee Murray (guitar) and Davey Johnstone (bass) as a recording unit.

Along with lyricist Bernie Taupin, Elton presents a joyous--even fun--collection of songs. Even when the subject is suicide ("I Think I'm Going To Kill Myslef"), the music is upbeat. You have to love a song with a tap dance solo! [Favorite line: "If you want to save my life/Brigitte Bardot gotta come and see me every night."]

Of course there were the hits: "Honky Cat" and "Rocket Man." But each song bristles with energy, like "Hercules," "Amy" and "Susie (Dramas)." Of course, there are a handful of ballads, like "Salvation" and "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" just to mix things up a bit.

In addition, Elton tried some new things on this album. Electric violinist Jean-Luc Ponty is brought on board for a couple tracks ("Mellow" and "Amy"). And in addition to playing guitar, Davey Johnstone plays banjo on "Rocket Man" as well as mandolin on "Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters." And there are no drums on this latter track. The only bonus track is an absurdly fast version of "Slave."

While Elton would go on to have even bigger hits and better selling albums, this is the one I return to time and again. ESSENTIAL
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Format: Audio CD
This is where Elton's legendary string of hits began. "Honky Chateau" would become the first of 7 straight #1 albums to hit the charts between 1972-1975: a truly dizzying output of music given its overall popularity and quality. And to think, Elton was prepared to hang up his recording career if this album failed...

Davey Johnstone formally joined Dee and Nigel in Elton's band. Jean-Luc Ponty added his string arrangements and Gus Dudgeon acted as producer. They recorded this album in a castle in France named the Chateau d'Herouville. Curiously, the music that emanated from those session had nothing to do with the lofty orchestral arrangements of previous efforts like "Madman" or "Elton John". This album was a pure rocker, many of the tracks invested with a Southern rock feel, only more streamlined and radio-friendly.

Elton's piano work on "Honky Cat" is masterful. "I Think I'm Gonna Kill Myself" is both comical and melodramatic as Elton's shifts between the sorrowful lament of the chorus to ragtime and tap-dancing. "Salvation" comes as close to an anthem as anything Elton's ever written. Then there are tremendous rock songs on here, like "Susie" and the powerful "Hercules". The bonus track of "Slave" invests the original laid-back country recording with pure fire on the piano.

But what most people will no doubt remember most on this album is the classic hit "Rocketman" and the lesser-known and absolutely beautiful "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters". This album was the emergence of Elton as the greatest singer/songwriter of his day.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
One of the true classics of Elton's prolific early period and one of the greatest piano records in all of Pop, HONKY CHATEAU has stood the test of time, remaining fresh and less dated than many of its contemporaries.
Except for "Mellow." Yech.
But the high points of this CD are many: "Honky Cat," "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters," the always fantastic "Rocket Man," and the overlooked "Hercules," which really would have fit in better on DON'T SHOOT ME I'M ONLY THE PIANO PLAYER.
At this point in his career Elton could have had hits (and good ones at that) if he'd been singing the phone book. Luckily for us Bernie Taupin was writing great lyrics. Taupin gets the occasional jab from rock critics; I couldn't disagree with them more. Taupin knew how to touch people (people my age anyway) with a few carefully chosen phrases. Did he spell it out like Lennon or Townshend? No. Did he know how to speak to his audience? Obviously, yes.
A great LP.
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Format: Audio CD
Honky Chateau was the first album to finally contain an identifiable "sound" for Elton John. Elton's previous albums meandered from country rock to gospel to symphonic to hard rock to was hard to tell just what type of music Elton was trying to sing. However, with Honky Chateau Elton defined a style that was to be his, and which I think is still his style today, evolved with time and skill.
Another of Elton's albums that went to number 1 on the album charts, this one was filled with gems that set a new personal standard for Elton, and gave rock music that would one day be classics.
"Honky Cat" was infused with a bit of jazz and had a fast beat, and has some thematic similarity to "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". Similar to the latter song "Honky Cat" charted as a single, and began to establish Elton as a pop star.
"Rocket Man" is a pop ballad that is one of Elton's most requested songs, both in concert and on the radio. Certainly one of the most memorable space songs, along with "Space Oddity" by David Bowie. The nearly humorous lyrics ("...Mar ain't the kind of place to raise your kids...") belie the very serious nature of the song.
"Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" is another mellow pop song, with beautiful harmonies. Underappreciated though very well performed.
There is a lot of quality in the other songs. "I Think I'm Gonna Kill Myself" is ironic in that the song is about death, but the music maintains a fast tempo and sounds upbeat. When I listen to this song I tend to ignore that the song is about suicide because the music just sounds so positive.
"Mellow" has moments of musical interest as the music breaks from the expected path and explores side paths. Elton John tries to inject progressive elements into his music?
Read more ›
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Elton John - Honky Château
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