Ice On Fire

Elton John

MCA, 1985

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


If I didn't know any better; I would assume Ice On Fire to be Elton John's worst effort of the 1980s. Between the unimaginative songwriting and the processed, cheesy sound, you would think it would be hard to get worse. So while the follow-up album Leather Jackets somehow managed to outstrip Ice On Fire in its utter futility, Ice On Fire came dangerously close.

Originally, the only reason I gave Ice On Fire a listen was that some Elton fans proclaimed it as one of those unsung albums. Paint me as clueless as how to this album got that reputation. Usually, Elton's albums are at the very least entertaining, but there is nothing on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Ice On Fire that continues the streak.

As an aspiring educator, you're told to discuss the positives first. This should be easy, as there aren't that many. "Wrap Her Up" is a semi R&B number that benefits the most from its duet between John and George Michael. At times it almost seems Elton is singing with his former, 70s self. The two would become good friends and the chemistry is apparent. The opening track "This Town," easily is the best rocker of the disc, with its lively keyboard and horn tracks and gospel-style backing vocals.

After the aforementioned two songs, it's slim pickings. "Too Young" is one of the huge melodramatic ballads Elton is usually so good at; but the subject matter bugs me. It's the Mick Jagger syndrome, with a 40-some rock star singing about a buxom young lass. "Shoot Down The Moon" gets points simply for not sounding like it came from a toddler messing around on a CASIO keyboard. If only the rest of Ice On Fire had taken this approach.

"Nikita" was the huge hit off Ice On Fire, and for the life of me I have never understood why. There is not a strong hook or melody to grab hold of and Elton sounds bored. Don't even mention to me the ridiculous electronic beeps and flourishes that texture the song.

The rest of the material ranges from mediocre to horrible. In part, it is because this album just doesn't sound real. As a fan of brass in rock/pop (think Chicago), I was horrified by Ice On Fire. Even though the horns are real, they don't sound like it. "Soul Glove" and "Tell Me What The Papers Say" are the worst offenders, forever pegged as a product of the mid 80s. With the decade came an onslaught of new technologies artists like to screw around with, and while I'm sure when Ice On Fire was released it was state of the art, today it sounds childish.

Despite his best attempts, Elton would not hit rock bottom musically until the following album with Leather Jackets. Ice On Fire merely serves as the warning. This is easily an album any fan could skip.

Rating: C-

User Rating: C-



© 2006 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of MCA, and is used for informational purposes only.