Sunday, October 28, 2007


"Slave"'s strength is also its failing. It's so literal- it's another of Taupin's Civil War-set songs, this time decrying slavery from the point of view of one such person. And that literal approach, devoid of shades, nuance, or even clever turns of phrase work to make this song a bit leaden and uninteresting.

There's a river running sweat right through our land
Driven by a man with a bullwhip in his hand
And I've taken just as much as I can stand
Oh we've got to free our brothers from their shackles if we can

Elton doesn't innovate either, providing a lazy-tempo country-blues sound, with banjo and dobro-style slide guitar providing color, just like you'd expect.

While the sentiment is certainly laudable, as far as I'm concerned the execution is uninspired and dull. It's a decent enough melody, but I'm rarely called back to listen to "Slave", and tend to tune it out when playing Chateau in its entirety.


Josh said...

Not sure if you were aware or not, but "Slave" was actually originally a manic uptempo number. After a bunch of takes that just simply weren't working out, one of the band members (I want to say Davey, but not sure) suggested taking it at a lazier Southern pace. The fast version is available as a bonus track on the CD release of Honky Chateau...comparing the two, the slow version is definitely a better fit. Agreed, though, that it isn't a particularly noteworthy cut.

Johnny B said...

That uptempo version was on Rare Masters, too, and that's where I heard it- I could swear I mentioned it in this entry but that doesn't seem to be the case. FWIW, I like the slow version better, too.