Saturday, November 10, 2007

Rock and Roll Madonna

A stutter-step chicken-scratch guitar lick, reminiscent of the one which opens Tumbleweed Connection's "Ballad of a Well-Known Gun", introduces this Summer 1970 UK single, recorded at about the same time as many of the songs which ended up on Elton John. The rest of the track sounds a lot like the Stones' "Honky Tonk Women", with crowd noise in the background, but the mix is cleaner than the standard live sound- so without the benefit of booklet notes, I have to wonder whether it was added in the studio to generate an excitement vibe, or if this really was a live recording.

Lyrically, it's a "quest" and "on the road" kind of song, with the Rock and Roll Madonna personifying the success and fame which Elton and Co. are doggedly pursuing, both on that road literally and figuratively.

The single was greeted with indifference by UK radio and didn't chart; "Your Song" was still months away. Still, it's a derivative, but not unenjoyable, rocker. Stylistically, it wouldn't have fit anywhere on John's first two post Empty Sky albums, although it might have livened Elton John up a tad.

2 comments:

thom de plume said...

I first discovered this song back in 1974 on a tape-only collection entitled, 'Lady Samantha.' (I had the 8-track!)

Other standouts from the album were 'Just Like Strange Rain,' 'Into the Old Man's Shoes,' and 'Bad Side of the Moon.' (Have you reviewed any of these yet?)

Sadly, my copy was ultimately eaten by my first stereo system, although I still have the shell lying around somewhere.

Nevertheless, 'Rock and Roll Madonna' is an interesting track that seems to have been the blueprint for the production style of 'Bennie and the Jets.'

Kudos, Gus!

Johnny B said...

Elton albums I had originally on 8-track were Madman Across the Water and Don't Shoot Me. Those were the days!

I haven't written about any of those you mention yet, but I do have them now and I'll get to them soon. Gotta let them sink in a bit.

Since I'm much less familiar with this one than I am "Bennie", I hadn't noticed the similarity with the crowd noise thing, but sure enough there it is. Guess it was an early experiment.