Madman Across the Water

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Madman Across the Water
Studio album by Elton John
Released 5 November 1971
Recorded 27 February; 9–14 August 1971, Trident Studios, London
Genre Symphonic rock, soft rock
Length 45:17
Label Uni, DJM
Producer Gus Dudgeon
Elton John chronology
Madman Across the Water
Honky Château
Singles from Madman Across the Water
  1. "Levon"
    Released: 29 November 1971
  2. "Tiny Dancer"
    Released: 7 February 1972
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau C[2]
Rolling Stone (mixed)[3]

Madman Across the Water is the fourth studio album by British singer/songwriter Elton John, released in 1971 through DJM/Uni Records.

Album history[edit]

The title song was set to be released on John's previous album Tumbleweed Connection. However, it was set aside and would eventually be re-recorded and serve as the title track of this album. Previous versions of the song (from the Tumbleweed sessions with Mick Ronson on guitar) can still be found, specifically on the remastered Tumbleweed Connection CD.

When it was released in 'The Classic Years' collection, it was the first album not to feature any bonus tracks. One known track recorded at the time, "Rock Me when He's Gone," was released on Rare Masters a few years before. The song was written for and recorded by one of John's long-time friends, Long John Baldry. This was John's first album in which he plays his piano and no other keyboards. This was the first album in which Davey Johnstone played guitar for John, a role that would continue for many years and decades to come.

John, Johnstone, Dee Murray and Nigel Olsson, who would be the main musicians on the next album (Honky Chateau), would soon join with percussionist Ray Cooper and form the best-known line-up of his mid-1970s band. As with all John songs during this period, the lyrics were penned by his writing partner, Bernie Taupin. This was the last album to be recorded at London's Trident Studios. They relocated to Château d'Hérouville for the next three albums. Caleb Quaye and Roger Pope wouldn't play with John again until Rock of the Westies in 1975, following Murray and Olsson's departure from the band.

This was John's lowest charting album in the UK after his debut, only reaching #41. In the U.S., Madman Across the Water managed to reach #8 in early 1972 on the Billboard 200, and was certified gold in 1972. It was later certified platinum in 1993 and 2× platinum in 1998.[4]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Elton John and Bernie Taupin

No. Title Length
1. "Tiny Dancer"   6:15
2. "Levon"   5:22
3. "Razor Face"   4:44
4. "Madman Across the Water"   5:56
5. "Indian Sunset"   6:45
6. "Holiday Inn"   4:17
7. "Rotten Peaches"   4:56
8. "All the Nasties"   5:08
9. "Goodbye"   1:48

When this album was issued on cassette MCA swapped the places of "Razor Face" and "Rotten Peaches" on side one and two of the tape. The SACD version of the album contained a longer version of "Razor Face" which extended the song-ending jam to 6:42 instead of the early fade on the original album.

The song "Holiday Inn" was written for Adam Diaz. An additional verse in the recorded version that was originally part of the song was either omitted during recording or edited out of the final album version. It can, however, be heard on "unofficial" live recordings of the song from some of his concerts during this period, which have circulated among collectors.


  • Elton John: Piano, Vocals
  • Roger Pope: Drums (Tracks 1, 3 & 6)
  • David Glover: Bass guitar (Tracks 1, 3 & 6)
  • Caleb Quaye: Electric guitar (Tracks 1–3), Acoustic guitar (Track 6)
  • BJ Cole: Steel guitar (Track 1)
  • Davey Johnstone: Acoustic guitar (Tracks 1, 4 & 7), Mandolin (Track 6), Sitar (Track 6)
  • Lesley Duncan, Sue & Sunny, Barry St. John, Liza Strike, Roger Cook, Tony Burrows, Terry Steele, Dee Murray, Nigel Olsson: Backing vocals (Tracks 1, 6 & 7)
  • Paul Buckmaster: Arrangement (Tracks 1, 2, 4–6, 8 & 9)
  • Barry Morgan: Drums (Track 2)
  • Brian Odgers: Bass guitar (Track 2)
  • Brian Dee: Harmonium (Track 2)
  • Rick Wakeman: Organ (Tracks 3, 4 & 7)
  • Jack Emblow: Accordion (Track 3)
  • Terry Cox: Drums (Tracks 4, 5 & 7)
  • Herbie Flowers: Bass guitar (Madman Tracks 4, 5 & 7)
  • Ray Cooper: Percussion (Track 4), Tambourine (Tracks 7 & 8)
  • Chris Spedding: Electric guitar (Track 4), Slide guitar (Track 7)
  • Diana Lewis: ARP Synthesiser (Tracks 4 & 7)
  • Chris Laurence: Double bass (Track 5)
  • Cantores em Ecclesia Choir: Backing vocals (Tracks 5 & 8)
  • Nigel Olson: Drums (Track 8)
  • Dee Murray: Bass guitar (Track 8)


  • Producer: Gus Dudgeon
  • Engineer: Robin Geoffrey Cable
  • Remastering: Tony Cousins
  • Editing: Gus Skinas
  • Digital transfers: Ricky Graham
  • Surround sound: Greg Penny
  • Assistant: Crispin Murray
  • Orchestra contractor: David Katz
  • Choir director: Robert Kirby
  • Arranger: Paul Buckmaster
  • Art direction: David Larkham
  • Design: David Larkham
  • Artwork: Gill, Yanis
  • Illustrations: David Larkham
  • Photography: Bob Gruen, David Larkham
  • Cover photo: David Larkham
  • Liner notes: Gus Dudgeon, John Tobler



Year Chart Position
1972 Spanish Albums Chart 11
1972 UK Albums Chart 41
1972 US Billboard 200 8


Year Single Chart Position
1972 "Levon" Canadian RPM 100 6[5]
1972 "Tiny Dancer" Canadian RPM 100 19[6]
1972 "Levon" US Billboard Hot 100 24
1972 "Tiny Dancer" US Billboard Hot 100 41