THE LONG PLAY

 

The Long Play with Al Neff" is a continuing Sunday evening Feature on The GOAT. This year, Every Sunday Evening, Album Rock WXYG, The GOAT will feature a full album at 8:00 PM from the halcyon musical days of 1972
1972 was another amazing year in Album Rock history. Another year of tough choices every week. So many great ones to choose from.

We hope you’ll tune in next Sunday evening, May 15, 2022 at 8:00 PM for “Honky Château“, the fifth studio album by Elton John. It was released in 1972, and was titled after the 18th century French chateau where it was recorded, Château d'Hérouville. The album reached number one in the US, the first of John's seven consecutive US number one albums.

Two singles were released worldwide from Honky Château, "Rocket Man" and "Honky Cat". A third single, "Hercules", was prepared for release, but this never materialized. This was the final Elton John album on the Uni label in the US and Canada before MCA consolidated all of its various labels under the MCA brand. This and John's earlier Uni albums were later reissued on MCA Records.

In 2003, the album was ranked number 357 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. It was revised to number 359 in 2012, and raised to number 251 in a 2020 list. It was certified gold in July 1972 and platinum in October 1995 by the RIAA.

Honky Château was the first in Elton John's streak of chart-topping albums in the US, which culminated with 1975's Rock of the Westies. Writer Stephen Thomas Erlewine described the album as an eclectic collection of "ballads, rockers, blues, country-rock, and soul songs."

It was also the first studio album to feature John's road band of Dee Murray on bass and Nigel Olsson on drums, along with new member Davey Johnstone on electric and acoustic guitars and other fretted instruments, as the core group of musicians. Previously, the record label insisted that John use them for only one track each on Tumbleweed Connection and Madman Across the Water; the rest of the songs on those two albums were performed by session players. Johnstone had played acoustic guitar, mandolin and sitar on Madman Across the Water, but on Honky Chateau, he would be invited to join permanently as a full-band member and he extended his contributions to electric guitar, banjo, slide guitar and backing vocals.

The opening track "Honky Cat" is a New Orleans funk track reminiscent of Dr. John and Allen Toussaint, and features a four-piece horn section arranged by producer Gus Dudgeon. Also of note is the on-record debut of the backing vocal combination of Johnstone, Murray and Olsson, who first added what would soon become their "trademark" sound to "Rocket Man". The trio's unique approach to arranging their backing vocal tracks would be a fixture on John's singles and albums for the next several years.

In 1995, Dudgeon remastered the album, adding only an uptempo, piano-based, rock and roll version of "Slave", that was originally sidelined in favor of the slower, guitar-based version on the original LP. This alternate version was originally due to be released as the B-Side to the ultimately unreleased "Hercules" single.

Critically, Honky Château is regarded as one of John's finest records. Jon Landau of Rolling Stone approved the original LP as "a rich, warm, satisfying album that stands head and shoulders above the morass of current releases". In the Los Angeles Times, Robert Hilburn hailed the music as innovative and Taupin's lyrics as humorous, ironic and satirical.
In a retrospective review, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic has written that "it plays as the most focused and accomplished set of songs Elton John and Bernie Taupin ever wrote".

Honky Château became the first of a string of albums by Elton John to hit No. 1 in the Billboard Charts in the US. In Canada, the album peaked at No. 3 on the RPM 100 Top Albums Chart, reaching this position on 29 July 1972, dropping two places to No. 5, then returning to No. 3 for a further twelve consecutive weeks before falling to No. 9 on 4 November of the same year.

Tune In and Turn On next Sunday Evening, May 15th, and every Sunday evening at 8:00 PM for The GOAT'S "The Long Play with Al Neff.”

Don’t forget, right after the “Long Play”, we do a “Replay” of this week’s GOAT GUEST DJ SHOW.
 

 

 

 

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