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Exploring the Western theme with all guns blazing,
This review is from: Tumbleweed Connection (Audio CD)
Before Elton John had really hit the big time, he was hard at work honing his stunning song-writing skills, and was allowed to explore themes in depth, and Tumbleweed Connection is a prime example of both of these factors. Bernie Taupin had a fascination with the 'West' and his lyrics inspired John to explore the theme to an extent that today seems slightly bizarre, but they get away with it for one simple reason, this album is stuffed full of brilliant songs that are 'off the beaten track' of what are considered Elton John 'standards'.
There are some real surprises in the content of this album, not least the full blooded attempts at country rock in 'Country Comfort' and 'Son Of Your Father'. There is also some of his most original and poignant tracks here too, as in the beautiful 'Come Down In Time' and 'My Father's Gun'. Simplicity is the key to another couple of tracks, including 'Love Song' which sounds more like Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumours' than anything else, and the slightly morose 'Talking Old Soldiers'.
But the highlights, as you might expect from such a potent song-writing force, are really something else. 'Amoreena' is a powerful, tight song with punching piano and Hammond Organ, and is sung with a passion so fierce, it blows you away. 'Where To Now St. Peter?' is as close to proper psychedelia that Elton John ever got, and has a fascinating lyric to boot. 'Burn Down The Mission' is a gospel-oriented song not far removed from 'Border Song', which has a punchy brass section finale at the end of each part of the song.
The CD also includes two extra tracks, one of which is really worth having, the original version of 'Madman Across The Water'. Quite why it is not an extra track on 'Madman Across The Water' itself is a bit of a mystery, but this CD really benefits for it, and it wouldn't sound at all out of place on the album as a bona-fide track anyway.
The country theme explored in some of the songs and the instrumentation may not be to everyones tastes initially, but the standard of songcraft on this album, coupled with stunning performances throughout the album should make up for any reservations you may have about investing in this great album.