Friday, June 20, 2014

Elton John - Breaking Hearts

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Breaking Hearts, the eighteenth studio album from Elton John. This 1984 release went to number 54 in Japan, number 11 in Sweden, number 10 in Canada, number 7 in Norway, number 5 in Germany and Spain, number 4 in Austria, number 2 in New Zealand and the UK, and number 1 in Australia and Switzerland. Here in the US, it spent thirty-four weeks on the Billboard Album chart and peaked at number 20.

Side one begins with "Restless", a mid-tempo rocker about the Cold War era of the early 80's.

The cautionary message of "Slow Down Georgie (She's Poison)" is next. It tells of a woman who sleeps with many men to get what she wants.

The third single was "Who Wears These Shoes?". It bounced its way to number 76 in Australia, number 50 in the UK, number 39 in New Zealand, number 36 in Canada, number 16 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and number 11 in Ireland.

The piano based ballad "Breaking Hearts (Ain't What It Used to Be)", the final single, hit number 59 in the UK. The song comes from a place of wisdom and experience, of someone who has been around the relationship blocks for quite some time.

"Li'l Frigerator" closes the first half off with a high energy rocker about a woman who is trouble. For my first time hearing this deep cut, I like it a lot.

Side two opens with the meandering, folksy rhythm of "Passengers". As the second single, it charted at number 38 in New Zealand, number 27 in Switzerland, number 9 in Australia and Ireland, and number 5 in the UK. I have no memory of this single at all; if it had much radio airplay in the US it certainly did not cross my ears back in 1984.

"In Neon", the fourth single, went to number 92 in Canada, and number 38 on the US Billboard Hot 100. This one has a melancholy mood to it, painting a picture of a woman struggling to make it in a big city.

"Burning Buildings", another ballad, is next.

The mid-tempo "Did He Shoot Her?" follows. This one has some catchy hooks that I would like to explore again down the road.

"Sad Songs (Say So Much)", the closing track, was also the lead single. It went to number 26 in Belgium, number 18 in Germany, number 8 in New Zealand, number 7 in the UK, number 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 4 in Australia and Canada, number 3 in Switzerland, and number 2 in Ireland. The lyrics focus on a person who has lost someone in their life and how music on the radio can touch a chord with that loss. This is easily my favorite of the singles and one that I know quite well (thanks to lots of airplay back in 1984. I'll often along to it when it comes on in the car.

Overall, Breaking Hearts gets an average rating from me. When he hits, Elton John is on fire. But some of the tracks do not do a lot for me. This is one that I will likely pick and choose from in the future.

For more blog posts about Elton John, click here.

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