Honky Château

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Honky Château
Studio album by Elton John
Released 19 May 1972
Recorded Château d'Hérouville, Hérouville, France, January 1972
Genre Rock
Length 45:15
Label Uni Records (US/Canada)
DJM Records(UK)
Producer Gus Dudgeon
Elton John chronology
Madman Across the Water
(1971)
Honky Château
(1972)
Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player
(1973)
Singles from Honky Château
  1. "Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long, Long Time)"
    Released: 17 April 1972
  2. "Honky Cat"
    Released: 31 July 1972
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau A−[2]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[3]

Honky Château is the fifth studio album by British singer/songwriter Elton John, released in 1972. It 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 seven consecutive US number one albums for Elton John.[4]

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

Music[edit]

This is the first album since John's debut (Empty Sky) not to feature strings on any songs, except for violinist Jean-Luc Ponty on "Mellow" and "Amy". It also marks the beginning of his transition from a singer/songwriter in the mould of James Taylor, Leon Russell or Carole King to a more rock 'n' roll style that would become more evident on such albums as Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Caribou and Rock of the Westies.

It was also the first album to feature John's road band of Dee Murray on bass and Nigel Olsson on drums (along with new member Davey Johnstone on guitars and other fretted instruments, including banjo, mandolin, sitar, dulcimer, lute and countless others) as the sole core group of musicians. Previously, due to his record label's insistence, John had been limited to using his road band 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 various groupings of 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.

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 debut on record 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, rock and roll version of "Slave" that was sidelined in favour of the steamier, more laconic version that made the LP's original line-up.

Critical appraisal and chart action[edit]

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".[5] Other reviews were likewise mostly positive. 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".[6]

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.

Honky Chateau was also released as a "Hybrid SACD" remixed in 5.1 and is still available as such.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

Side one[edit]

  1. "Honky Cat" – 5:13
  2. "Mellow" – 5:32
  3. "I Think I'm Going to Kill Myself" – 3:35
  4. "Susie (Dramas)" – 3:25
  5. "Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long, Long Time)" – 4:45

Side two[edit]

  1. "Salvation" – 3:58
  2. "Slave" – 4:22
  3. "Amy" – 4:03
  4. "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" – 5:00
  5. "Hercules" – 5:20

Bonus track (1995 Mercury and 1996 Rocket reissue)[edit]

  1. "Slave" (Alternate take) – 2:53

Personnel[edit]

Additional musicians[edit]

Production[edit]

  • Producer: Gus Dudgeon
  • Engineer: Ken Scott
  • Mastering engineer: "Legs" Larry Smith
  • Remastering: Tony Cousins
  • Editing: Gus Skinas
  • Digital transfers: Ricky Graham
  • Surround mix: Greg Penny
  • Brass arrangement: Gus Dudgeon
  • Cover photo: Ed Caraeff
  • Liner notes: John Tobler

Charts[edit]

Preceded by
Exile on Main St. by The Rolling Stones
Billboard 200 number-one album
15 July – 18 August 1972
Succeeded by
Chicago V by Chicago

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Honky Château". Allmusic. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  2. ^ "CG: elton john". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  3. ^ "Elton John: Album Guide | Rolling Stone Music". Rollingstone.com. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  4. ^ "Elton John Biography: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame". Rock Hall. Retrieved 3 December 2014
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/r1040357
  7. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  8. ^ Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 29 October 2011
  9. ^ "dutchcharts.nl Elton John – Honky Château" (ASP). Hung Medien (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  10. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1972" (in Italian). hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  11. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9. 
  12. ^ "norwegiancharts.com Elton John – Honky Château" (ASP). Hung Medien. VG-lista. Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  13. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  14. ^ "Chart Stats – Elton John – Honky Château" (PHP). UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  15. ^ "allmusic ((( Honky Château > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". allmusic.com. Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  16. ^ "Album Search: Elton John – Honky Château" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  17. ^ "Top Pop Albums of 1972". billboard.biz. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  18. ^ "Top Pop Albums of 1973". billboard.biz. Retrieved 11 February 2012. 
  19. ^ "American album certifications – Elton John – Honky Chateau". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH