Friday, 20 June 2014

Elton John 'Island Girl'

Chart Peak:
Elton's 14th Top 30 single in Britain was 'Island Girl'. It reached No. 14 in November 1975 and became his 5th No. 1 in America - his 3rd just in 1975 following 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' and 'Philadelphia Freedom'.
Side 3 has been pretty decent so far, albeit very 80s-oriented. The good news is that this single is a break from the latter. Unfortunately, it's kind of a change from the former as well; just like the fifth track on the first disc it's an attempt at reggae by some white people who sound like they might once have had the genre described to them by a deaf person, and it comes with an unpalatable side-order of racial stereotyping. Not only is this statuesque lady "black as coal" but she's a whore who will wrap herself around you "like a well-worn tyre". Really, Bernie Taupin actually wrote that and thought it was OK. I can just about imagine that the chorus "What you want with the white man's world" (note the elided auxillary verb there, to make it sound more "ethnic") is only supposed to be patronising rather than actively racist but it doesn't sound right at all now. The most charitable interpretation I can make is that his album Rock Of The Westies was allegedly somewhat rushed, and this has the atmosphere of an in-joke studio jam that ended up on an album out of desperation. And I obviously do recognise that this was almost forty years ago and the world has moved on. It's not really any good musically, although that odd guitar sound that opens the track and recurs later on is quite nice. Somebody sample it and put it in a better song please.

Available on: Rock Of The Westies

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