Rolling Stone - 8/17/72, p.48
"...a rich, warm, satisfying album that stands head and shoulders above the morass of current releases....his best work to date..."
Composer: Elton John.
Lyricist: Bernie Taupin.
Personnel: Elton John (vocals, piano, electric piano, organ, keyboards, background vocals); Elton John; Gus Dudgeon (vocals, whistling, whistle, background vocals); Chris Gavin (saxophone); David Hentschel (keyboards, synthesizer, ARP synthesizer); Dee Murray (bass guitar, background vocals); Legs Larry Smith (taps); Larry Steel (background vocals); Davey Johnstone (vocals, guitar, banjo, mandolin, synthesizer, background vocals); Larry Steele, Liza Strike, Madeline Bell, Tony Hazzard (vocals, background vocals); Jean-Luc Ponty (violin, electric violin); Jean Louis Chautemps, Alain Hatot (saxophone); Ivan Julian (trumpet); Jacques Bolognesi (trombone); Nigel Olsson (drums, congas, tambourine, background vocals); Ray Cooper (congas, percussion).
Audio Remasterer: Tony Cousins.
Liner Note Author: John Tobler.
Recording information: Strawberry Studios, France.
Editor: Gus Skinas.
Unknown Contributor Role: Legs Larry Smith .
By the time Elton John went to France to cut HONKY CHATEAU in 1972, he had already become the first act since the Beatles to land four albums in the American Top 10 simultaneously. Up to that point, John had performed in a trio rounded out by bassist Dee Murray and drummer Nigel Olsson. The addition of guitarist Davey Johnstone on HONKY CHATEAU added another dimension to the overall sound. The results were successful, as the nonsensical "Honky Cat" and the Bowie-inspired "Rocket Man" became John's first Top 10 hits since the release of "Your Song" two years prior.
John and co. reined in the lengthy, moody excesses of MADMAN ACROSS THE WATER, turning in a highly focused collection of beautifully crafted pop. The rollicking "I Think I'm Gonna Kill Myself," the sassy "Susie (Dramas)," and the stirring "Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters" are all standouts. The John/Bernie Taupin partnership also yielded a number of songs with vivid imagery, including the Civil War-era American South of "Slave" and a front-row pew before a gospel choir in the inspirational "Salvation." Pound for pound, HONKY CHATEAU may be one the strongest, most consistent, and most pleasurable records in the mammoth John discography.