Leather Jackets (album)

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Leather Jackets
Leather jackets.JPG
Studio album by
Released15 October 1986
RecordedJanuary 1985, January – February, May – September 1986
StudioWisseloord, Hilversum; CTS, London; The SOL, Cookham
GenreSoft rock, pop rock
LabelGeffen (US), Rocket (UK)
ProducerGus Dudgeon
Elton John chronology
Ice on Fire
Leather Jackets
Live in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
Singles from Leather Jackets
  1. "Heartache All Over the World"
    Released: September 1986
  2. "Slow Rivers (with Cliff Richard)"
    Released: November 1986
  3. "Paris"
    Released: 1986
  4. "Hoop of Fire"
    Released: 1986
  5. "Angeline"
    Released: February 1987
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic1.5/5 stars[1]
Los Angeles Times(negative)[2]

Leather Jackets is the twentieth studio album by English singer-songwriter Elton John. Recorded at Sol Studios in England and Wisseloord Studios in the Netherlands, it was released in 1986 and was his first album not to have any top 40 singles in either the US or the UK since 1970's Tumbleweed Connection, which had no singles released from it. It is also the poorest-charting album of his career.


In 2001 Elton regarded "Heartache All Over the World" as the worst song he'd ever recorded, calling it "pretty insubstantial";[3] in 2006, he would declare Jackets his least favourite of all his albums, saying "Gus Dudgeon did his best but you can't work with a loony."[4][5] He would also call its biker-inspired cover "very butch but a total disaster. I was not a well budgie, I was married and it was just one bag of coke after another."[6] (In spite of this, lyricist Bernie Taupin believes The Big Picture deserves the honour of worst album.[4])

In 2000, Gus Dudgeon said: "There was a chance he could polish himself off. He'd go out and do some coke and it'd be all over his mouth, his nose would be running and I'd go: 'Oh God, this is just awful'."[7] Elton has also stated in his autobiography Me that "it was about as close to an unmitigated disaster than anything I've ever released" and "overall, Leather Jackets had four legs, a tail, and barked if a postman came to the door".

"Heartache All Over the World" was the only single to achieve chart success in the US, though it failed to crack the top 50. "Slow Rivers" is a collaboration with Cliff Richard that was released as a single in the UK. Cher collaborated with "Lady Choc Ice" (actually John himself) to write "Don't Trust That Woman".[8] Roger Taylor and John Deacon of Queen play drums and bass guitar respectively on the track "Angeline"; songwriting credit is shared with backup singer Alan Carvell, who composed the "oh-oh-oh's" that can be heard at the beginning and end of the track.[9]

John played "Paris" during his 1986 US tour. He included "Heartache All Over the World" and "Slow Rivers" on his 1986 Australian tour with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, which would eventually yield John's live album Live in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. "Heartache" was included in the band portion of the show (John opted not to play piano for that number) while "Slow Rivers" was played during the second half of the show with the orchestra. Due to contractual constraints, "Slow Rivers" was not included on Live in Australia, despite the fact that it was from the orchestral portion of the show, which was the basis for the album. Though not released as a single, "Paris" also became a minor FM hit for some jazz stations that programmed the track.

This is John's only studio album from the pre-1993 period that has yet to be remastered as of 2019; it last appeared on compact disc in the early 1990s. However, in 2008, it became available for digital download.

Critical reception[edit]

Matt Springer placed the album at #31 in his ranking of all of John's studio albums, criticizing it as "the worst of the '80s – awful songs with equally awful production."[10]


The majority of the tracks from the album were recorded during the Ice on Fire sessions in 1985.

This was John's last studio release to be produced by Gus Dudgeon and his last in which he played a grand piano before switching to the Roland RD-1000 digital piano for Reg Strikes Back and the two albums following that. After his throat surgery in 1987, Chris Thomas would be rehired as producer. For the first time in John's career, no songs on this album are longer than five minutes.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, except where noted.

Side one
1."Leather Jackets"4:10
2."Hoop of Fire"4:14
3."Don't Trust That Woman" (Cher, Lady Choc Ice [John][8])4:58
4."Go It Alone"4:26
5."Gypsy Heart"4:46
Side two
1."Slow Rivers" (Duet with Cliff Richard)3:13
2."Heartache All Over the World"4:01
3."Angeline" (John, Taupin, Alan Carvell[9])3:56
4."Memory of Love" (John, Gary Osborne)4:08
6."I Fall Apart"4:00
Total length:45:11
  • Sides one and two were combined as tracks 1–11 on CD reissues.


  • Don't Trust That Woman is not to be confused with Les Dudek's version of the same Cher's lyrics, included on his 1981 album Gypsy Ride.
  • On the LP original pressing, the Greatest Hits Volume 3 compilation, and some single releases, the length of "Heartache All Over the World" is 4:01 (incorrectly listed as "3:52" on the album sleeve), while on CD editions, including the 1992 American CD re-release, the version of "Heartache" includes a brief additional a cappella segment during the final chorus, resulting in a length of 4:17.[11][12]
  • Angeline is 3:24 in length on the LP version, but extended to 3:55 on the CD release.


Track numbering refers to CD and digital releases of the album.


Song Format
"Highlander" "Heartache All Over the World" 7"/12" (US/UK)
"Heartache All Over the World (Megamix)" "Heartache All Over the World" 12" (US/UK)
"Billy and the Kids" "Slow Rivers" 7"/12" (UK)
"Lord of the Flies" "Slow Rivers" 12" (UK)



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  2. ^ Matsumoto, Jon (30 December 1986). "Turn-ons and turn-offs in current home entertainment releases". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  3. ^ Uncut Magazine, September 2001 "Elton – The Magnificent Showman", page 46
  4. ^ a b "The Lion King". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  5. ^ Mojo Magazine "Fantastic Voyage" by Tom Doyle, October 2006 – issue 155, page 90.
  6. ^ Elton John – "Sound Your Funky Horn" by Cliff Jones – Mojo Magazine, October 1997.
  7. ^ Gus Dudgeon interview on "Elton John – Behind the Music", VH1 19 March 2000.
  8. ^ a b Bernardin, Claude; Stanton, Tom (1996). Rocket Man: Elton John From A - Z (Paperback ed.). Praeger. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-275-95698-1.
  9. ^ a b Bernardin, Claude; Stanton, Tom (1996). Rocket Man: Elton John From A - Z (Paperback ed.). Praeger. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-275-95698-1.
  10. ^ "Elton John Albums Ranked Worst to Best". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 25 August 2020.
  11. ^ Elton John- Leather Jackets original US vinyl release @Discogs.com Retrieved 1-29-2011.
  12. ^ Elton John- Leather Jackets US CD reissue @Discogs.com Retrieved 1-29-2011.
  13. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
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  21. ^ "The Official Charts Company – Elton John – Leather Jackets" (PHP). Official Charts Company. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  22. ^ "allmusic ((( Leather Jackets > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". allmusic.com. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  23. ^ "Album Search: Elton John – Leather Jackets" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  24. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – Elton John – Leather Jackets". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  25. ^ "Elton John - Spain" (PDF). Music & Media. 30 January 1988. p. 45. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  26. ^ "British album certifications – Elton John – Leather Jackets". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Leather Jackets in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.