Here we meet the classic Elton John long before he was knighted. Here we find one of the key artists in the evolution of rock, one of those who has best known how to mix it with the Black American sounds that imbue a great work.
But yeah, this is probably the most difficult of his classic era albums to get into — the pleasures quite reveal themselves slowly, it has no major hit singles or even love song. However, it is regarded amongst his early best arguably as difficult a set of lyrics as Bernie Taupin ever gave him to write music to.
Although not as remarkable as its true predecessor “Tumbleweed”, “Madman” ends the year of the exceptional harvest of 1971 on a positive note, coincidentally one of the two most productive years in Elton’s long career.
Equally notorious, and possibly responsible for less cohesion in the final result, is the fact that Elton used a notable number of musicians in this work, and particularly curious, that of his historical rhythmic section, with which he had been working for some time, it was only used in the quasi-liturgical “All the Nasties”, with Nigel Olsson and Dee Murray driving the Ecclesia Choir with a thundering beat and bass.
There was a time when Elton John could just write really good songs and (especially) also perform well. Although he worked with Bernie Taupin to compose the songs, it must be said that in the early years of his career Elton John was a singer-songwriter to take into account.
Overall, the album is not his most adventurous, but surely is one of his most beautiful and personal. A rare album where he exposed himself to be musically capable of doing something great.