Elton John’s ‘Madman Across the Water’ Gets 50th Anniversary Editions

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Bernie Taupin and Elton John (Photo: Ed Caraeff / Iconic Images; used with permission)

Elton John’s Madman Across the Water, one of the star’s remarkable run of albums during the ’70s, has received a 50th anniversary release. The expanded edition of the 1971 title includes live rarities, demos and outtakes as a 3-CD and 1-Blu-ray Super Deluxe Box Set. It’s also available on 4-LPs, 1-LP limited edition colored vinyl, and 2-CD formats. These special editions arrived on June 10, 2022, via UMe. Listen to several previously unreleased performances below.

From the collection’s April 21 announcement: Spawning the hits “Tiny Dancer” and “Levon,” Madman Across the Water was John’s fourth studio album, released only two years after his debut. Recorded in 1971, it was a foundation stone of what was to become a dazzlingly prolific decade for the global icon-in-waiting. Madman Across the Water was largely written after John had made his initial foray to America, offering the opportunity for lyricist Bernie Taupin to witness first-hand the landscapes and people he’d only seen on a screen or on the page. Recorded at Trident Studios in Central London in February and August 1971, it was the first album where all five players of Elton’s fabled band lineup (Dee Murray, Nigel Olsson, Davey Johnstone, and Ray Cooper) were featured. The album also featured Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman, who plays Hammond organ on three songs.

The collection includes “Rock Me When He’s Gone,” a track from Taupin and John that was first recorded by Long John Baldry. It’s the first time this version has been released; a shorter version was issued in 1992. This take was recorded at Trident Studios in London on Aug. 22, 1971, during the Madman sessions but wasn’t included on the album.

Listen to the lively full version from the new collection

A newly unveiled piano demo of “Tiny Dancer,” taken from the archives and previously unheard, has been released. Recorded at Dick James Studios in central London in Spring 1971, it is an intimate performance of the song with Elton alone at the piano as a guide for the band later to follow.

Watch the lyric video

When it was initially released, “Tiny Dancer” only reached #41 on the U.S. singles chart. It has gone on to become one of his most loved songs with his worldwide fanbase, third only to “Rocket Man” and “Your Song” in global streaming numbers. Both “Tiny Dancer” and “Levon” remain live favorites to this day, as essential songs in the setlist for John’s ongoing Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour. Tickets are available here and here.

This ad appeared on the back cover of the Nov. 27, 1971 issue of Record World

Best Classic Bands’ Album Rewind of the title wrote, “Packed with personality and infectious melodic energy, it expanded the variety and ambition of John’s material with complicated, bravura compositions unlike what anyone else offered, establishing the singular sonic identity that would become a trademark Elton John calling card for years to come.”

All formats of the new editions contain Bob Ludwig’s 2016 remaster of the main album. There are 18 previously unreleased tracks across the Super Deluxe 3-CD/1-Blu-ray box set, which also contains rare, restored material from the era, piano demos of the album, and the audio of the BBC Sounds For Saturday concert, broadcast in 1972. The Blu-ray contains a 5.1 mix by Greg Penny, plus the Sounds For Saturday and his 1971 Old Grey Whistle Test performance. The audio of the Super Deluxe CD/Blu-ray set will also be available on a 4-LP set. The box set includes a 104-page book with photos, an essay with interviews with those who helped make the album, as well as memorabilia and artwork taken from the Rocket Archive. The album will also be available as a limited edition blue and white-colored 180g LP.

Watch the official unboxing video

The complete track listing appears below the Amazon links.

3-CD / 1-Blu-ray Super Deluxe Box Set Track Listing

CD 1
Tiny Dancer (2016 Bob Ludwig Remaster)
Levon (2016 Bob Ludwig Remaster)
Razor Face (2016 Bob Ludwig Remaster)
Madman Across The Water (2016 Bob Ludwig Remaster)
Indian Sunset (2016 Bob Ludwig Remaster)
Holiday Inn (2016 Bob Ludwig Remaster)
Rotten Peaches (2016 Bob Ludwig Remaster)
All The Nasties (2016 Bob Ludwig Remaster)
Goodbye (2016 Bob Ludwig Remaster)
Indian Sunset (Live Radio Broadcast)
Madman Across The Water (Original Version, featuring Mick Ronson)
Rock Me When He’s Gone

The 4-LP edition

Levon (Mono Single Version)
Razor Face (Extended Version)

CD 2
Madman Across The Water (1970 Piano Demo)
Tiny Dancer (Piano Demo)
Levon (Piano Demo)
Razor Face (Piano Demo)
Madman Across The Water (1971 Piano Demo)
Indian Sunset (Piano Demo)
Holiday Inn (Piano Demo)
Rotten Peaches (Piano Demo)
All The Nasties (Piano Demo)
Goodbye (Piano Demo)
Rock Me When He’s Gone (Piano Demo)
Rock Me When He’s Gone (Full Version)

CD 3
Tiny Dancer (BBC Sounds For Saturday)
Rotten Peaches (BBC Sounds For Saturday)
Razor Face (BBC Sounds For Saturday)
Holiday Inn (BBC Sounds For Saturday)
Indian Sunset (BBC Sounds For Saturday)
Levon (BBC Sounds For Saturday)
Madman Across The Water (BBC Sounds For Saturday)
Goodbye (BBC Sounds For Saturday)
Taped November 11, 1971 / transmitted April 29, 1972

Greg Penny 5.1 mix of Madman Across The Water (Original Version, featuring Mick Ronson)
Greg Penny 5.1 mix of Madman Across The Water

Sounds For Saturday (Taped November 11, 1971 / transmitted April 29, 1972)
Old Grey Whistle Test (Transmitted on December 7, 1971)

Best Classic Bands Staff

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  1. CityKity1951
    #1 CityKity1951 22 April, 2022, 18:20

    Love to listen to Elton John! He made me cry with his memorial to Princess Di because he said all the good things about her with “Candle in the Wind”! It is something I will always remember about him!

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