Madman Across the Water

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Madman Across the Water
Elton John - Madman Across the Water.jpg
Studio album by Elton John
Released 5 November 1971
Recorded 27 February; 9–14 August 1971; Trident Studios
(London, England)
Genre Symphonic rock, soft rock, folk rock, progressive rock, psychedelic 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)[citation needed]

Madman Across the Water, the fourth official album release for Elton John, was released in 1971 through DJM and Uni Records.

Album history[edit]

John, Davey 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.

Upon its release, Madman Across the Water was almost ignored in John's homeland, barely reaching #41 on the UK Albums Chart and spending only two weeks there. It has been the lowest-charting album of his career to date. The album fared better in North America, peaking at #8 on the U.S. Billboard Top Pop Albums and placing at #10 on the year-end list of 1972.[3] It received Gold by the RIAA in February 1972, achieving $1 million in sales at wholesale value just in the United States. In 1993, the album was certified Platinum, representing shipments of more than 1 million units in the U.S.[4] In 1998, the album was certified Multi-Platinum, representing shipments of over 2 million units in the U.S.[5]

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 the 1992 compilation Rare Masters. 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 and the first album on which Johnstone played, a role that would continue for decades, and he contributed acoustic guitar, mandolin and sitar; he would join John's band full-time for Honky Château.

Track listing[edit]

All music composed by Elton John, all lyrics written by Bernie Taupin.

Side one
  1. "Tiny Dancer" – 6:15
  2. "Levon" – 5:22
  3. "Razor Face" – 4:44
  4. "Madman Across the Water" – 5:56
Side two
  1. "Indian Sunset" – 6:45
  2. "Holiday Inn" – 4:17
  3. "Rotten Peaches" – 4:56
  4. "All the Nasties" – 5:08
  5. "Goodbye" – 1:48

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. This extended version can only be heard in the 5.1 surround mix.



  • 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



  1. ^ Madman Across the Water at AllMusic
  2. ^ "CG: elton john". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 21 October 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Allmusic: Madman Across the Water : Charts & Awards : Billboard Albums". Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "American certifications – Madman Across the Water". Recording Industry Association of America. 
  6. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  7. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 16, No. 26". RPM. 12 February 1972. Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1972" (in Italian). Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  9. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9. 
  10. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  11. ^ "Elton John > Artists > Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  12. ^ "Top Pop Albums of 1972". 31 December 1972. Archived from the original on 6 December 2010. Retrieved 10 February 2012. 
  13. ^ "American album certifications – Elton John – Madman Across the Water". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH