Elton John’s ‘Madman Across The Water’ Gets Lavish Reissue Treatment for 50th Anniversary (ALBUM REVIEW)

Fifty years after its initial release, Elton John’s Madman Across The Water – his fourth album – remains one of his best albums in a career crammed with remarkable albums. Despite the record being one of his lowest charting albums at the time, history has proven yet again that sales don’t equate to quality. Songs like “Tiny Dancer” and “Levon,” both off of this record, are still being discovered by new fans all the time. 

UMe has just re-released a 50th anniversary edition of this album in several formats, including a massive 4-LP, 180g vinyl box set and a set of 3-CD and a-Blu-ray. Madman Across The Water originally came out just two short years after John’s debut and, like all of his soon-to-be classics, it includes lyrics by Bernie Taupin. Members of John’s touring band, as well as several studio musicians, make appearances on this album, including Yes’ Rick Wakeman who plays organ on three songs. Aside from the record’s two best-known hits, the rest of the songs here are just as solid, like the lush “Goodbye” and the fantastic, should have been a single “Razor Face.” Even John’s take on the obligatory touring song “Holiday Inn” (a staple of 1970s albums) is satisfyingly fresh. Interestingly, the title track, arguably the most dated sounding song off this album, was initially set to be included on 1970’s Tumbleweed Connection.  

All versions of this re-release include the 2016 remastered version of this album. The 3-CD/1-Blu-ray box set includes 18 previously unreleased tracks – including restored material, piano demos of the album, and music from a 1972 broadcast of BBC Sounds For Saturday. The Blu-Ray that comes with it contains the video from that same Sounds For Saturday show as well as his 1971 Old Grey Whistle Test episode. Of all of those extras, the piano demos are the most remarkable and worth the price of the set alone. The impressive 4-LP version of this re-release includes the same songs from the 3-CD set. They also both comes with a book and reproduction of a poster from 1971. 

Finally, there is paired down 2-CD set with original album, rarities and demos; and 1-LP limited edition in blue and white-colored 180g vinyl. Excessive? Maybe. But there if any record from John’s catalogue that deserves this lavish re-release treatment it is Madman Across The Water.

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