Elton John returned in March of 1995 with his first true studio album in three years. He released Duets in 1993 and contributed a number of songs to The Lion King soundtrack in 1994. Made In England re-united him with lyricist Bernie Taupin and his own band. It would be representative of his output during the nineties and after the turn of the century, as it would be filled with solid songs with excellent lyrics and feature good production.
It is Taupin’s lyrics that are at the heart of this release. Song for song they form one of the better efforts in his long history. He writes about love, nostalgia, life, safety, and even throws in a little wit.
What immediately strikes you when looking at the track list is that ten of the eleven song titles consist of only one word. Only the title song is longer at three words. While this may not mean much, one can only wonder if this was planned. If it was they should have shortened the title song to just “England.”
“Believe” was issued as a single, and would continue his tradition of a hit song propelling the album’s sales. It comes close to being a power ballad as the vocals project emotion. The use of strings to fill in the sound was creative and excellent.
There were two other songs that stood above the rest. The title song is an autobiographical tune filled with catchy hooks plus a surprising and funny ending. “Belfast “ is a haunting and beautiful tribute to the city. It is a creative masterpiece as he uses traditional Irish music to fill in the background.
While the rest of the songs may not be the equal of the first three, there is not a weak one among the lot. “Please” has a sixties feel with a little rockabilly thrown in for good measure. “Man” finds him moving in a blues direction. “Pain” is the sort of nice uptempo rock that he is so good at creating. “House” may not be as good as some of his past ballads but it is still above average.
Made In England finds Elton John seemingly happy, healthy, and settled as he nears his fiftieth birthday, and the music reflects these facts. The album also has a good flow to it as the songs blend together well. Plus it is nice to hear Elton at the grand piano. All in all, this was an excellent album that still provides a pleasurable listening experience.