If you ranked all of Elton John’s studio albums, Leather Jackets would land in the bottom three. It was an album the American public did not appreciate or buy in great quantities as it was his lowest charting album, only reaching number 91 on the charts. Elton himself would ultimately pronounce it his least favorite album.
His contract with the Geffen label was running out and neither he nor the company were particularly happy with the relationship. It may have been that he submitted this release to fulfill his contractual obligations. Even still, he owed the label one subsequent album, to which Geffen wisely released Greatest Hits Volume 3.
The album credits and information read like an encyclopedia. There was even a person in charge of programming all manner of synthesizers, which was not a good sign. Elton played very little piano and thus the keyboards had an impersonal and mechanical '80's sound. The long list of instrumentalists and singers did not bode well either as the tracks lacked cohesiveness and consistency.
He had already issued several average albums in the 1980’s by this point, but those efforts were ultimately saved by one or two superior songs that became hit singles. No such luck here. “Heartache All Over The World” was one of the best of a mediocre batch of material but it could not crack the American top forty. It is upbeat and somewhat catchy but ultimately the song is lost in the company it keeps on this album.
I find only two more really listenable tracks. “Slow Rivers” is an adequate ballad. What made the song unique was the duet with English legend Cliff Richard. “Paris” is almost good but it has a somewhat unfinished feel to it.
On the other hand, “Gypsy Heart” and “Hoop of Fire” are tepid ballads. “Don’t Trust That Woman” is a dance track with lyrics by Cher and one can only ask why?
Leather Jackets is an album best avoided unless you want absolutely everything released by Elton John. The music is faceless and forgettable. It makes me yearn for Victim Of Love. Well, almost!