Leather Jackets

Elton John

Geffen, 1986


REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


I admit it; I dreaded listening to this album for the first time. Among Elton John fans, it has the reputation of being one of the worst of his albums. Coming at the end of a lousy relationship with Geffen Records, as well as a time of personal and professional crisis, it is hard to imagine him pulling a winner out of his hat. For my money, Leather Jackets lives up to the "hype" to claim the title of Worst Elton Album.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Maybe it's the horrible, 80s-sounding production. I could not help but laugh at the opening bars to "Go It Alone;" for all intents and purposes, I was listening to the Super Marios Bros. theme. Leather Jackets is just as out of date as acid-washed jeans and Rainbow Brite (thanks, "I Love The 80's").

Within a short period of time, John would require throat surgery, and that is most evident on his studio recordings with Leather Jackets. The vocals are raspy and lack that range Elton had for so many years. Along those lines, by this time John had once again dumped his core trio, retaining just Davey Johnstone. That cohesive sound displayed on previous efforts like Too Low For Zero and Breaking Hearts was gone. I'm also curious to know how the sessions yielded eleven tracks; I expected a much shorter album.

Is there anything redeemable from Leather Jackets? Barely, and that's only after lowering my standards for Elton John. "Don't Trust That Woman" has funny lyrics, courtesy of Cher. The song is worth it just for the opening line, "She's a real ball-buster, don't trust her." "Slow River" features a duet with Cliff Richard, and works for the most part, as in neither embarrasses the other. "Angeline" starts off intriguingly with a group chant and also features Roger Taylor and John Deacon of Queen. Of course, I couldn't have told you that just by listening, since they blend into the mediocrity that inhabits Leather Jackets. I'm grasping at straws to find highlights here.

One great test of an album's quality is whether or not it drives you to sleep. As I sat beside the pool here in Florida, I wasn't planning on taking a nap. About seven songs in, Leather Jackets forced me into one as some type of self-defense mechanism. However, there is a bare smidgen of quality that keeps Leather Jackets from falling to a lower rating.

Rating: D

User Rating: D



© 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 Geffen, and is used for informational purposes only.