Review Summary: "Honky Chateau" is a great work full of upbeat rock, boogie, funk, gospel, and folk songs with some slower, more mellow ones as well.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
By 1972, Elton John had produced 4 studio albums, and had achieved huge success. But, he was still far from the success he would later claim, and "Honky Chateau" is just more proof that Elton knows how to write incredible, catchy melodies.
The album kicks off with "Honky Cat," a very memorable, joyous swing-inspired song with a great chorus. Its lyrics can best describe Elton's evolution from complex classical-type music to more pop styled music. The brass arrangement gives a slightly jazzy feel, and the banjo makes it somewhat country-like.
"Rocket Man" is another fantastic piece. It starts out like a sad, piano ballad, but explodes at the chorus into a great melody. There's a reason why this song was a hit, and the background harmonies are great too. Also, there's "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters", a mellow, but warm feeling ballad about New York City. The chorus soars, and it's surprising that it wasn't a hit. Elton keeps instrumentals to a minimum, and that really helps the song. This is a song that can just be perfect without all the flashy stuff.
Let's not forget "I Think I'm Gonna Kill Myself," a surprisingly happy song with a great bass melody. Self mocking at times, this humorous song is another stand-out on the album, with some great slower melodies. I've always considered "Mellow" to be the worst song on the album, but that's not saying that much as that is still a pretty good song. I just don't like some of the key changes, but the chorus is great, and the regular verse parts are slower, just what you would expect from the title.
"Salvation" is one of my favorites, a moving gospel piece with great vocals. The instrumentations work just right, and the little bass riffs really add a nice touch. "Slave" is a country/ folk piece, and it has a nice, moving chorus. The bongos are a great touch, and Elton uses falsetto at just the right places. It may be a bit boring to some, but not to me. There are some nice guitar riffs too, this song is mostly guitar.
"Susie (Dramas)" is a nice, upbeat rocker with a very catchy chorus. The guitar riffs is are awesome, the only bad thing is that the song isn't exactly memorable. "Amy" is another fast rocker with a great groove to it. It does suffer the same thing as "Susie," it's not exactly memorable, but it is a great song. The most memorable part (in my opinion) is near the end, and it only appears twice.
"Hercules" is an acoustic guitar-inflicted boogie song, and it has the same upbeat feeling as you get on so many other songs on this album, and this one is polished perfectly. It also has some great doo-wop and Beach Boy back-up vocals. A very memorable and great way to end a great album.