Tuesday, October 19, 2021

"A Word in Spanish" by Elton John

Song#:  3648
Date:  09/17/1988
Debut:  86
Peak:  19
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Touted as a comeback effort, John's '88 album Reg Strikes Back did help to revive his career following the abysmal performance of his '86 LP Leather Jackets and the throat surgery he successsfully had early in '87. The album would become a #16 gold seller thanks to the #2 Pop/#1 AC hit "I Don't Wanna Go on with You Like That." To try and keep the momentum going, this next track was issued out as a single. It would do well at AC hitting #4. Over at Pop it didn't catch on quite as well and it stopped just inside the Top 20. Oddly, a third single from the album was not release in the US. In the UK the track "Town of Plenty" was issued out as the second single prior to "A Word in Spanish" (#91 UK), but it only got to #74. Perhaps that result along with the fact that a duet single with John and Aretha Franklin was set to debut early in '89 made the record company choose to not push out a third single in the US. Still, Reg Strikes Back would help to right the ship and it would set John up well for his next LP.

ReduxReview:  Here's a forgotten single in John's catalog. How it ever cracked the Pop Top 20 is a mystery. I assume it just rode the wave created by "I Don't Wanna Go on with You Like That" and was able to somehow cruise up the chart. It was a nice album track, but it really was not single material. However, it probably did have the best shot because the LP was not ripe with single candidates. It had the one surefire hit and the balance was fairly tepid, but listenable John/Bernie Taupin compositions. Seriously, do you even remember this song on the radio? I sure don't and it seems that after its run was done, it quickly disappeared. It is certainly one of John's least memorable and least played Top 20 hits.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  During much of Elton John's prime period, he had a steady backing backing band that consisted of Dee Murray on bass, Davey Johnstone on guitars, and Nigel Ollson on bass. While other side players would come and go, the three musicians would form the core of the band that stayed with John through most of the 70, then later in the 80s. For Reg Strikes Back, Johnstone would stick around on guitars, but Murray and Ollson would only contribute background vocals. For Murray, it would be his last project with John as he would die of a stroke while battling cancer in '92. Over the years, the three musicians would work on projects with other artists besides John, but only Ollson would take a legit stab at a solo career. Although Ollson issued out a prog rock album in 1971, it was after he started working with John that he got a chance to try for a solo career. He signed on with John's label, Rocket Records, and in 1975 issued out a self-titled LP. A single from it, "Only One Woman," would only get to #91 and the album failed to chart. Then a 1978 album for Columbia came and went to little notice, but a 1979 album for Bang Records simply titled Nigel did better. It spawned a pair of Pop Top 40 entries with "Dancin' Shoes" getting to #18 (#8 AC) and "Little Bit of Soap" making it to #34 (#9 AC). A second album for Bang in 1980 was a bust and that result basically ended Ollson's main attempt at a solo career. He would then pick back up with John and also work with other artists.


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