This classic 1972 album on Elektra by John Kongos has Queen/Cars director Roy Thomas Baker remixing superb production by Gus Dudgeon, the man who created many an Elton John hit. Elton sidemen Ray Cooper, Caleb Quaye, Dave Glover, Roger Pope, Sue (Glover) and Sunny (Leslie) -- pretty much the crew from John's 1971 epic Madman Across the Water -- are all excellent here. But this album has more to offer than the solo records by Kiki Dee and Bernie Taupin, which also proliferated around the same time. Though he never made it to Joel Whitburn's Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits in the U.S.A., there were three minor splashes on this disc: "Tokoloshe Man," "Jubilee Cloud," and "He's Gonna Step on You Again." The totally original sound -- producer Dudgeon on "asses jawbone," bicycle bell, maracas, and Mike Noble playing the "clapper board" -- build a texture one didn't hear on Elton John records. Highly experimental, the brilliant piano and guitar by Quaye invigorate "Jubilee Cloud," which can only be described as psychedelic gospel. Not only a gospel feel, the mysterious Sue and Sonny personify a church choir next to Mike Moran's ARP Synthesizer. There are lots of Jesus references throughout the disc, and on the heavily Beatles-influenced "Come on Down Jesus" with brass and Ray Cooper's tambourine, one gets the message that Kongos is a Jesus freak. This record sounds like a party -- a bunch of hippies on some Indian reservation at sunset. The album cover giving hints to what is transpiring on the grooves. Some of the themes Bernie Taupin flavored the Elton John "Country Comfort" song with are here, but the singer embraces them in a different way. Kongos sounds like a sincere Billy Joel on "Gold," and a cross between Elton and Joel on "I Would Have Had a Good Time." But as good as those tracks are, it is the energy of "Tokoloshe Man," the ecstasy of "Jubilee Cloud," and the insanity of "He's Gonna Step on You Again" that make this album timeless. Producer Gus Dudgeon plays "chair squeak," "rusty tin," and "earth drums" on "Step on You," John Kongos adding castanets, creating a Phil Spector stereo nightmare, which is simply gorgeous. The album has been re-released in different versions; a German CD contains eight bonus tracks and a U.K. collection has five additional songs. Magical music that one does not get to experience often.
by Joe Viglione