On Second Thought
Elton John - Victim of Love






for better or worse, we here at Stylus, in all of our autocratic consumer-crit greed, are slaves to timeliness. A record over six months old is often discarded, deemed too old for publication, a relic in the internet age. That's why each week at Stylus, one writer takes a look at an album with the benefit of time. Whether it has been unjustly ignored, unfairly lauded, or misunderstood in some fundamental way, we aim with On Second Thought to provide a fresh look at albums that need it.

Produced by Pete Bellotte at Musicland Munich, featuring Steve Lukather and Michael McDonald (and the godlike Keith Forsey) with the Rocket Man who likes nice things saving your life tonight. Why did this not sell 17 million copies?

Perhaps the cover is just really boring. The title appears to be scribbled over with a crayon. The front cover is a b&w photo of Mr Furnish wearing shades with his eyes open. Back cover is in colour, shades still on but eyes closed. The inner sleeve (remember ‘delete vinyl’? Like somebody cut a huge roach out of the top-right corner?) is just white print on a fluorescent pink/blue bisection (well he hadn’t come all the way out then) and the back of the innersleeve is the same seasick (as in “Six Months in a Leaky Boat”) style except without the writing. Hardly Captain Fantastic or Tumbleweed Connection as packaging goes. Elton does Eurodisco; one would expect the record to have been packaged Merzbow style, embedded in a giant coke-frosted wedding cake with transvestites leaping out of it. Of all the times to lowball the profile!

For fans (like myself) of Sylvester Levay, Thor Baldurrson and the godlike Keith Forsey (not to mention Paulinho da Costa, though you may prefer Airto Moreira or Laudir de Oliveira or Nelly Furtado or General Salazar), it’ll do fine! (That sentence is a deliberate allusion to Eurodisco’s unfortunate ‘utilitarian’ stigma.) Reason being that Reg’s genius has always been to get into the spirit of things while treading the yellow brick tightrope between self-effacement and self-annihilation. This was the guy who turned the singer/songwriter game into glam pandemonium while singing SOMEBODY ELSE’s lyrics, so it’s not like he wouldn’t understand that the best way to make an authentic Eurodisco record is to phone in the vocals over the most monochromatic ‘series of tracks’ (really one long track, although the titles do get all Lizzy Springsteen on the second side [“Thunder in the Night”, “Spotlight Street”, “Boogie”]) since D. Summer’s Once Upon a Time, while letting Bellotte, Baldurrson, and the godlike Keith Forsey do their stuff!

(Another thing I love about Eurodisco is how every song is the exact same but each song has like 12 different composer credits. ‘Like reading Pravda’, etc)

Better than the Gary Osborne records, not quite as good as Rock of the Westies or ‘Songs from the West Coast’. But it still should’ve sold more than 11 copies. To make up the slack I will recommend this to a) anyone who absolutely must hear a disco version of “Johny B. Goode” – shout out to Judas Priest! - with a BASS SOLO, and b) anyone who, like myself, is collecting any record ever made featuring the godlike Keith Forsey!


By: Dave Queen
Published on: 2003-09-26
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