Top critical review
7 people found this helpful
I'd love to love this album
on 3 October 2012
I'd genuinely love to love this album, but i can't bring myself to. I've recently fallen in love with the mans music and his incredible work ethic. I'm almost overwhelmed with the quality of many of the Albums and can't believe i've spent 40 odd years being unaware of them. This is however, fails to connect with me.
It's competent, well played but ultimately charmless. I'm sure everyone knows the story of EJ completing Captain Fantastic and then ditching the classic line-up of the Elton John Band unceremoniously. Listening back to the Here and There concert recordings it is apparent that Nigel Olsson does play too fast on some numbers live, which is great for adrenaline but a nightmare if you're trying to fit all those words in as a singer. So in a way I understand why Elton wanted to change.
The problem with Rock of the Westies is it closely follows Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy which for me is the high water mark of Elton's Career. Sadly missing are Dee Murray's percolating bass lines, Nigel Olsson's light and loose drumming and the trademark backing vocals of Dee, Nigel and Davey Johnstone. In it's place is a bloated over-blown backing band where everybody is competing for attention, with the exception of the plodding rhythm section. In places if feels like Elton has done his parts and just left the band to handle all the overdubs unsupervised. This apparently was the standard EJ approach in those days but in the past he'd left his material in a safe set of hands, now it's a free for all. Ray Cooper is all over this recording adding Vibraphone, marimba, congas, tambourine and numerous other noises everywhere he can squeeze it in, cluttering up the sound in a display of ego driven show boating and lacking any sense of good taste.
The songs in the main are just not good enough, the one single from the Album is Island girl and even this sounds forced, take note of the clumsy join of chorus back to verse the second time around, a long pause having to suffice in the first. The majority of tracks sound like jams, I appreciate this was the rockiest of Elton's line up's but it also reminds me of Elvis's huge backing band. They only manage to really compliment the songs on the slower tracks, "Robert Ford" is a good example of when it works.
Perhaps it was an experiment, perhaps its the beginning of the end, or perhaps this just follows the pattern of good album bad album that started with Honky Chateau (good), Don't Shoot me (bad), Goodbye yellow Brick Road (good, Caribou (bad) etc. Blue Moves was to follow and this showed an improvement.
I've tried, but i just can't like it, i'm sorry Elton