With "Rock of the Westies" (a pun on "West of the Rockies"), Elton was starting to come down off his Seventies' high. After the "Captain Fantastic..." album, he had fired bassist Dee Murray and drummer Nigel Olsson, hired another guitar player (Caleb Quaye) to complement Davey Johnstone, hired old friend Roger Pope as the new drummer, as well as hiring a new bassist, Kenny Paserelli. The results of the new unit were middling. The beginning "Medley" has a muddy sound, the "Yell Help" part of the suite is just plain annoying; "Ugly" admonishes all men who wouldn't have sex with an ugly woman if it was all they could get. Not exactly "Candle in the Wind, Part II." "Dan Dare" is an interesting story about an intrepid space traveller, but is done in so campy a style as to be considered an afterthought, or at least an in-joke. "Island Girl" and "Grow Some Funk of Your Own" redeem the off parts quite a bit. "Funk" is just a darn good rocker and "Island Girl" was a number-one hit (the last for Elton in many a year). "I Feel Like a Bullet(in the Gun of Robert Ford)" is a nice ballad, with a great understated Johnstone solo. The rockers on Side Two display the harder edge that EJ no doubt wished to convey with his new band; unfortunately, bad production and monotonous music,partially at least, did him in. "Street Kids" is good, but overly long. "Hard Luck Story" is a litany of the rigamarole life that lyricist Bernie Taupin was dreading; alternately, his marriage was falling on hard times. "Feed Me" is my favorite song on the album; it has a great hook and conveys the message of insanity better than anything Taupin had written since "Madman Across the Water" (on the album of the same title). "Billy Bones and the White Bird" showed promise, but the mantra-like phrase "Check it out!" just goes on endlessly. The bonus tracks, "Planes" and "Sugar on the Floor", are just O.K. and don't last long in the memory. Though this album sold well initially (probably on the strength of "Island Girl") it wasn't well-received by the critics, and with some justification. The re-issued CD is far superior sonically to the original MCA release, but it STILL sounds muddy in places to me. I give it three stars, because half of it was pretty good. But it is easy to see why EJ would soon lose the sway he held for so long in the pop-music industry. This one remains a hit-or-miss affair.