I’ve always felt a close association with this album for some reason. Perhaps it was the album’s awesome cover (a young cardboard standup of a very young Elton (or Reg, his given birth name), in black and white, amidst piles of his old ‘70’s and ‘80’s outlandish costumes and sunglasses).
Or better yet, the leadoff single that was a massive hit, I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That. That song, released in the summer of 1988, had everything going for it: lots of piano flourishes, catchy chorus and above all, killer vocal delivery by Elton. As a matter of fact, there is a freewheeling spirit to Reg Strikes Back that is prominent throughout. Songs like A Word In Spanish, Town Of Plenty, and The Camera Never Lies, all have a freshness to them that I think is mainly due to the bright and tight production courtesy of producer Chris Thomas.
Another standout track, Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters Part 2, is a sequel to the original song of the same name from 1972 in title only. Part 2 is a more jovial affair and upbeat look at New York City. With a brand new set of lyrics from Bernie Taupin, Part 2 sounds nothing like the song that inspired it musically, but retains a lyrical identify that serves it well. Heavy Traffic is a frisky drug trade number complete with a playful piano solo and peppy background vocals.
And the albums closer, Since God Invented Girls, is a grand ballad in every sense of the word with assisted background vocals by The Beach Boys.
The only missteps are Japanese Hands (because it goes on just a tad too long) and Poor Cow (a sad tale of a trailer trash girls’ miserable existence that stands oddly out of place in context with the rest of the album.)
It should also be noted that Reg Strikes Back has one of EJ’s toughest rockers, Goodbye, Marlon Brando, in which Elton rants about everything the ozone layer to the gluttony of Rocky movies. Once again, lyrics are handled solely by Bernie Taupin, and one has to ask: is Reg Strikes Back among Elton and Taupin’s best albums?
Well, I think so and it may not be regarded as a classic but it sure is one solid effort. It should be pointed out that studio musicians were on hand for most of the recordings but guitarist Davey Johnstone was present alongside former members Nigel Olsson and Dee Murray, both of which were brought in to assist Johnstone with backing vocals to help re-create the classic-era sound.
They achieved their goal and help Elton, er, Reg, strike back indeed.
A Word in Spanish...makes feel like I am in Spain..LOVE IT!
By Nick and Maria
A Word in Spanish is my all time favorite. I keep playing it over and over...and it feels so Spanish...:). Whenever I hear this song I always think of a beautiful dark haired Spanish Senorita doing the Flamenco to this song... I have some other cool albums you should listen to A Journey Home and Ambient Nights 1, 2 by Richard Myles. These albums are incredible! They are all on iTunes.
Reg Strikes Back was Elton's first effort after his surgery which made his voice lower (pretty hard to tell on this album though) and it is probably his last great album since practically all his albums after this are boring and feature no rockers. Highlights include "I Don't Wanna Go On With You Like That", his biggest hit in 12 years (!), "Goodbye Marlon Brando", one of his best rockers ever and "Town Of Plenty". The sythesizer-driven mess of "Japanese Hands" is the only low point of the album despite feature some vivid lyrics reminescent of "Madman Across The Water".
Very Good :D
I actually am giving this album all five starts since I really have enjoyed it for the past few months since I have bought it. Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters Part 2 is a great song, would have been a funny video, and the rest of the songs are just good 80s Elton songs! If you are in a 80s mode or just want a good afternoon of some quality Elton songs, try this album out.
EJ's first post-surgery (lower voice) album.
EJ hit bottom in 1986, doing two bad studio albums and one fantastic live album. He then had surgery on his throat, which made his voice deeper. He hadn't given up his style yet (he soon did, settling into a style more suited to the low voice), and his odd attempt to sing like his old self results in an interesting rock sound. The only clunker is Japanese Hands, I guess, and Since God Invented Girls is only so-so. Must Haves are I Don't Wanna, Heavy Traffic, Poor Cow, and the bonus track, Rope Around a Fool. A Word in Spanish was a great minor hit. Hey, at this point, just buy the whole album!
Some great uptempo numbers
This album features a big hit. But again as with all EJ albums it's the album tracks that keep me returning to his music. Goodbye Marlon Brando is a rocking number with a killer guitar solo nad lyrics that are still timely. Poor Cow has a great driving rock beat. Indeed all the great memorable songs are the uptempo ones, Town of Plenty, Mona Lisas Pt. 2 and Heavy Traffic. The last song mentioned would be a great song to be played during radio traffic reports.
Reg Strikes Back
My old audio tape of this album just broke and I had to come here and get a new copy IMMEDIATELY! This is some of the best music Elton has ever done and one of my favorite albums of all time. It still rocks after all these years.