Album Profile: Leather Jackets (1986)

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October 10, 2015 by tworoomsejbt

Release Date: November 3, 1986

Chart Position:

US Billboard Top 200 Album Chart Peak Position: #91
UK Album Charts Peak Position: #24

US & UK Singles:
Heartache All Over The World (US #55/UK #45)
Slow Rivers (UK Only) (UK #44)

About Leather Jackets:

Leather Jackets, released in 1986, is the twentieth official album release for Elton John. Recorded at Sol Studios in England and Wisseloord Studios in the Netherlands, it was his first album to not create any top 40 singles in either the US or the UK since 1970’s Tumbleweed Connection, which had no singles released from it. It is also the poorest-charting album of his career.

In 2001, Elton regarded Heartache All Over the World as the worst song he’d ever recorded, calling it “pretty insubstantial”; in 2006, he would declare Jackets his least favorite of all his albums, saying “Gus Dudgeon did his best but you can’t work with a loony.” He would also call its biker-inspired cover “very butch but a total disaster. I was not a well budgie, I was married and it was just one bag of coke after another.” (In spite of this, lyricist Bernie Taupin believes The Big Picture deserves the honor of worst album, and Elton has since come to agree with him).

In 2000, Gus Dudgeon said: “There was a chance he could polish himself off. He’d go out and do some coke and it’d be all over his mouth, his nose would be running and I’d go: ‘Oh God, this is just awful’.”

“Heartache All Over the World” was the only single to achieve chart success in the US, though it failed to crack the top 50. “Slow Rivers” is a collaboration with Cliff Richard that was released as a single in the UK. Cher collaborated with “Lady Choc Ice” (actually John himself) to write “Don’t Trust That Woman”. Roger Taylor and John Deacon of Queen play drums and bass guitar respectively on the track “Angeline”.

John played “Paris” during his 1986 US tour. He included “Heartache All Over the World” and “Slow Rivers” on his 1986 Australian tour with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, which would eventually yield John’s live album Live in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. “Heartache” was included in the band portion of the show (John opted not to play piano for that number) while “Slow Rivers” was played during the second half of the show with the orchestra. Due to contractual constraints, “Slow Rivers” was not included on Live in Australia, despite the fact that it was from the orchestral portion of the show, which was the basis for the album. Though not released as a single, “Paris” would also, ironically, become a minor FM hit for some jazz stations that programmed the track.

This is John’s only studio album (from the pre-1993 period) that has yet to be remastered as of 2013; it last appeared on compact disc in the early 90s. However, in 2008, it would become available for digital download.

The majority of the tracks from the album were recorded during the Ice on Fire sessions in 1985.

This was John’s last studio release to be produced by Gus Dudgeon and his last in which he played a grand piano before switching to the Roland RD-1000 digital piano for Reg Strikes Back and the two albums following that. After his throat surgery in 1987, Chris Thomas would be rehired as producer. For the first time in John’s career, no songs on this album are longer than five minutes.

Track Listing On Original 1986 Release:

All music composed by Elton John and lyrics by Bernie Taupin, except where noted. Click on the song title to read the lyrics.

Side One
Leather Jackets 4:10
Hoop Of Fire 4:14
Don’t Trust That Woman (Cher, Lady Choc Ice aka John) 4:58
Go It Alone 4:26
Gypsy Heart 4:46

Side Two
Slow Rivers 3:06
Heartache All Over The World 4:01
Angeline (John/Carvell,Taupin) 3:55
Memory Of Love (John/Osbourne) 4:08
Paris 3:58
I Fall Apart 4:00

Recording Personnel and Musicians:

Produced by Gus Dudgeon
Tracks 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9 10, 11 engineered by Graham Dickson
Tracks 2, 5, 6, 8 engineered by Stuart Epps
Assistant Engineers – Albert Boekholt and Ronald Prent
Mixed by Graham Dickson and Gus Dudgeon
Studio Coordinators – Steve Brown and Adrian Collee
Artwork – David Costa
Photography – Gered Mankowitz
Mastered by Greg Fulginiti (US)

Albert Boekholt – emulator vocals
Alan Carvell – backing vocals
John Deacon – bass guitar on “Angeline”
Kiki Dee – backing vocals
Graham Dickson – electronic percussion
Gus Dudgeon – electronic percussion, drum programming
Martin Fjord – orchestra contractor
Elton John – acoustic piano, MIDI piano, Yamaha GS1, Yamaha CP-80, Roland JX-8P, vocals
Davey Johnstone – acoustic and electric guitars, backing vocals
Katie Kissoon – backing vocals
Shirley Lewis – backing vocals
Jody Linscott – percussion, tambourine
Fred Mandel – Roland Jupiter 8, Roland JX-8P, Yamaha DX7, Korg DW-8000, Yamaha TX816 Rhodes, Prophet 2000, Roland P60, synthesizer programming and sequences
Dave Mattacks – drums
Charlie Morgan – drums, electronic percussion
Gordon Neville – backing vocals
James Newton-Howard – string arrangements and conductor on “Slow Rivers”
David Paton – bass guitar
Frank Ricotti – percussion
Cliff Richard – vocals on “Slow Rivers”
Roger Taylor – drums on “Angeline”
Paul Westwood – bass guitar
Pete Wingfield – backing vocals
Gavyn Wright – orchestra leader

Recorded at Sol Studios, Berkshire, England and Wisseloord Studios, Netherlands.

Source: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For discography of related album issues, singles, reissues and more, visit David Bodoh’s site: Eltonography

Promotional Ads, Posters and Items:

Publicity Photos:


Official Press Kit From Geffen Records:
(click on the page to read)

Page 1:


Page 2:


Page 3:


Page 4:


Page 5:


Music Videos and TV Performances To Support The Album:

Official Music Videos:

Heartache All Over The World


TV Appearances:

France ‘ Patrick Sabatier Show’ February 21, 1986: Candle In The Wind

US ‘Prince’s Trust Rock Gala’ June 21, 1986: I’m Still Standing

US ‘Entertainment Tonight’ Fall 1986: Interview

US ‘Joan Rivers Show’ October 9, 1986: The Bitch Is Back, Your Song

UK ‘Noel Edmunds Christmas Show’ December 25, 1986: Slow Rivers w/Cliff Richards

UK ‘Cliff From The Hip’ Cliff Richards Special December 27, 1986: Leather Jackets

UK ‘Cliff From The Hip’ Cliff Richards Special December 27, 1986: Slow Rivers

US ‘Johnathan King Show’ 1986: Interview

Album Reviews (2):

All Music Review
By Lindsay Planer

Although he had re-formed his 1970s quartet and even reinstated both lyricist Bernie Taupin as well as seminal producer Gus Dudgeon earlier in the decade, Elton John failed to sustain the momentum that informed Too Low for Zero (1983), Breaking Hearts (1984), and to a lesser extent Ice on Fire (1985). Even the most ardent enthusiasts freely admit that Leather Jackets (1986) was nothing more or less than a final fulfillment of his six-album deal with Geffen Records.

On top of the half-hearted material and less-than-inspired performances is increasing evidence that John’s voice — which would require a potentially career-ending surgery less than a year later — is beginning to show signs of extreme fatigue and strain. While these circumstances certainly don’t aid this effort, they likewise do not lessen the few bright moments that exist, including the languid and soulful “Slow Rivers” featuring a duet with Cliff Richard, the hopelessly upbeat single “Heartache All Over the World,” as well as the middle-of-the-road “Don’t Trust That Woman” — the latter of which is a co-composition between John (under the guise of Lady Choc Ice) and Cher and sports an opening line of “She’s a real ball-buster/Don’t trust her.”

Perhaps the most telling track is the achingly poignant mid-tempo ballad “I Fall Apart.” With an understated passion and an almost reserved delivery, it hearkens back to tracks such as “Cry to Heaven” from Ice on Fire or “One More Arrow” off of Too Low for Zero.

While not really a highlight per se, Queen enthusiasts should note appearances from Roger Taylor (drums) and John Deacon (bass) on the lightweight “Angeline.” Over the course of the ensuing months, John reinvented himself by once again embracing his past on the two-disc Live in Australia (1987) — which spawned the international chart-topping version of “Candle in the Wind.”

Source: All Music Review

People (December 15, 1986)
By Ralph Novak and Mary Shaughnessy

The timing of John’s releases in recent years has made him seem like an opening act for Santa. This is another pre-holiday treat, with John thumping his keyboards and laying into another batch of pop-rock tunes, most of them written by Elton and his partner Taupin, who to judge by the credits still seems unable to find his first name. (Hey, Elton, remind him; it’s Bernie.)

John sings such songs as Gypsy Heart and Heartache All Over the World with considerable enthusiasm. He suggests there’s a more substantial singer there somewhere with / Fall Apart. He branches out with Don’t Trust That Woman, written by Cher and Lady Choc Ice (an alter ego for Elton John), lamenting, “You can beat her/ But don’t mistreat her/ Oh, don’t believe that woman, please.”

While it’s predictable, there are less satisfying predictions than that every year Elton John will come out with an enjoyable album about this time.

Source: People

Tour Reviews (4):

Merriweather Post Pavilion – Columbia, Maryland – Aug. 31, 1986 (2 Reviews)

Elton John, Rocking On
by Geoffrey Himes

COLUMBIA, MD – Culture Club was to play at Merriweather Post Pavilion Sunday night, before Boy George’s medicinal problems stopped the tour. The vacancy was filled by another rock ‘n’ roll Liberace, Elton John, who originated the role and still does it better than anyone else.

Strolling on stage in a long coat of Christmas tree icicles, pink framed shades and a foot-high, pink-feathered Mohawk wig, John continued to ham it up wonderfully throughout the show. The 39-year-old Briton was in good voice and good spirits as he rocked his way through one hit single after another.

Thirteen performers filled the stage, and on the more grandiose compositions there was enough pseudo-operatic bombast – complete with gongs, yellow smoke and rattling arpeggios – to fill a touring production of “Evita.” Fortunately, most of the evening was given over to John’s simple but effective rockers, from 1974’s “The Bitch Is Back” to 1983’s “I’m Still Standing.” John pounded out the memorable piano chords with undiminished fervor, and the songs took off at a full gallop, chased by two drummers and four horns.

Like the rest of the big band, John’s longtime guitarist Davey Johnstone proved quite talented, if somewhat undisciplined. John slowed down the show periodically for solo piano renditions of “Daniel,” “Wonderful” and other ballads.

He previewed one song, a romantic travelogue called “Paris,” from his forthcoming album, “Leather Jackets,” due in October. “Rocket Man” featured an extended coda that had John quoting Dave Mason’s “Feelin’ Alright” and exchanging improvised vocal and piano phrases with Johnstone’s guitar for chorus after chorus.

All in all, there was plenty of utterly safe foolishness to satisfy the well-scrubbed sellout crowd.

Source: The Washington Post, September 1, 1986 

Elton John Spins Gold From His ’70’s Oldies
by Matt Neufeld

COLUMBIA, MD – This was one of Merriweather’s and the Washington areas best concerts of the year. It doesn’t matter that about 90 percent of Elton John’s 2-hour 20-minute show was classic material from the 1970s. That’s what made the show so great: It was wonderful to hear those songs. And it’s doubtful anyone wanted to hear a concert full of his 1980’s work, which is fine, but can’t match the ‘70s songs. Forget Ocean City, backyard barbecues, picnics, jaunts to the mountains, crab feasts or lounging by the neighborhood pool. The definitive way to celebrate Labor Day weekend and the traditional “end of summer” this year was relaxing at Merriweather Post Pavilion Sunday night, listening to 140 minutes of classic rock songs by Elton John.

Rumors circulated earlier this year that Elton was tired of touring and would not perform live anymore. But we know that’s not the real Elton. Bouncing his stout frame around the stage in rock-style campy outfits – silver-sequin suits and purple capes – and a hot pink Mohawk haircut wig, he was all energy and fire, the Elton we remember, alternately pounding his piano, singing and coyly mugging at the audience.

He was having a great time, and loving every second of it.

That enthusiasm, backed by a 12-piece band probably unrivaled by anything on the radio today, carried over to the capacity house of 15,000.

The 12-piece band included Elton’s guitarist since 1971, Davey Johnstone, who wrote “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues,” which was performed. Bassist David Paton, pianist Fred Mandel, percussionist Jody Linscott and drummer Charlie Morgan were backed by vocalists and the Onward International Horns, a four-piece brass section renowned in Britain and Europe, a twist that gave Elton’s songs a fresher, fuller sound than they previously had.

Elton was uniquely adept at giving his fans a well-rounded tour of his myriad albums featuring in his 24-song set cuts from “Madman Across The Water” (“Levon”), “Tumbleweed Connection” (“Burn Down The Mission”), “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy” (“Better Off Dead”), “Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player” (“Daniel”), “Honky Chateau” (“Rocket Man”) and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” (the trend-setting “Bennie And The Jets”).

It a tribute to Mr. John’s vast wealth of material  that he could perform such a superb concert without playing some of his biggest hits, such as “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Crocodile Rock” and “Get Back.”

Elton John has a new album “Leather Jackets,” due out in October. A sampling from that release, “Paris,” was a wistful, romantic ballad that made on anticipate October’s arrival and another chance to hear one of rock’s most enduring stars.

Source: The Washington Times, September 2, 1986 

Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York – September 11, 1986

Elton John Performs
by Robert Palmer

Elton John’s concert at Madison Square Garden on Thursday might have been subtitled ”The Revisionist Elton John.” It was not an attempt to pump up flagging record sales by performing new material.

Almost every song was a hit; much of the program dated from the 70’s, when Elton John was scoring one hit single after another.

In the past, his live performances of these songs emphasized their sing-along qualities. The bands Elton John took on the road were playing slick pop-rock, with polished surfaces and a soft center. Thursday’s performance was enthusiastic, hard-hitting rock-and-roll.ej86

Ever the fashion plate, Elton John appeared on stage in a kind of tuxedo suit gravid with glitter and a quasi-Mohawk hat that Liberace would blush to wear. But the music was direct and full of energy.

One had the impression that while Elton John used to emphasize the pop-song aspects of his material, thinking this would please that audience that bought his singles, he is now performing more in order to please himself. The irony of this is that he is pleasing himself by recasting the songs in the rocking rhythm-and-blues mode he favored early in his career, and this is making them more exciting than ever, and pleasing the audience more. The crowd at the Garden was almost delirious with enthusiasm and had every reason to be.

Source: New York Times, September 13, 1986

Pacific Amphitheatre, Los Angeles, California – October 4, 1986

Elton John Stirs Up Memories
by Randy Lewis

Elton John burst onto the pop music scene in 1970 with wild stage antics and colorful costumes that were in stark contrast to the serious, blue-denimed emotionally sensitive singers who were the order of the day.

He has now returned to concert stages, after a two-year retirement from touring, with his flamboyance renewed at a time when serious, blue-denimed politically sensitive singers are the new de rigueur in rock.

Recalling his outrageous concerts of yore, John made his entrance before a capacity crowd Saturday night at the 18,800-seat Pacific Amphitheatre in a sparkling black tuxedo with tails. He looked like a punk Amadeus under a multi-toned blue-frizz wig and sporting sunglasses that sprouted Captain America-like wings.

The two-hour-plus show began with a surprising three-song set from “Blue Moves,” the double album that marked the beginning of John’s fall from rock ‘n’ roll grace in the late ’70s. He then moved on to the hits, from the early “Rocket Man” and “Philadelphia Freedom” through the more recent “Sad Songs (Say So Much)” and “Nikita.”

Source: Los Angeles Times, October 6, 1986



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