Leather Jackets is the twentieth studio album by British singer/songwriter Elton John, recorded at Sol Studios in England and Wisseloord Studios in the Netherlands, and released in 1987. It was his first album to not create any top 40 singles in either the US or the UK since 1970's Tumbleweed Connection, which had no singles released from it. It is also the poorest-charting album of his career. The majority of the tracks from the album were recorded during theIce on Fire sessions in 1985.
In 2006, John declared this his least favourite of all his albums: "Gus Dudgeon did his best but you can't work with a loony." He's also been quoted as saying there were some records where he was "not together at all" and cited this album as an example. With its biker cover, he said it was "very butch but a total disaster. I was not a well budgie, I was married and it was just one bag of coke after another."
In 2001 Elton regarded Heartache All Over the World as the worst song he'd ever recorded, calling it "pretty insubstantial".
In 2000, Gus Dudgeon said: "There was a chance he could polish himself off. He'd go out and do some coke and it'd be all over his mouth, his nose would be running and I'd go: 'Oh God, this is just awful'."
"Heartache All Over the World" was the only single to achieve chart success in the US, though it failed to crack the top 50. "Slow Rivers" is a collaboration withCliff Richard that was released as a single in the UK. Cher collaborated with "Lady Choc Ice" (actually John himself) to write "Don't Trust That Woman".
This was John's last studio release to be produced by Gus Dudgeon and his last in which he played a grand piano before switching to the Roland RD-1000 digital piano for Reg Strikes Back and the two albums following that. After his throat surgery in 1987, Chris Thomas would be rehired as producer. For the first time in John's career, no songs on this album are longer than five minutes.
John played "Paris" during his 1986 US tour. He included "Heartache All Over the World" and "Slow Rivers" on his 1986 Australian tour with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, which would eventually yield John's live album Live in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. "Heartache" was included in the band portion of the show (John opted not to play piano for that number) while "Slow Rivers" was played during the second half of the show with the orchestra. Due to contractual constraints, "Slow Rivers" was not included on Live in Australia, despite the fact that it was from the orchestral portion of the show, which was the basis for the album.
Though not released as a single, "Paris" would also, ironically, become a minor FM hit for some jazz stations that programmed the track.
This is John's only studio album (from the pre-1993 period) that has yet to be remastered as of 2013. However, it is available on compact disc.
- 2 Personnel
- 3 B-sides
- 4 Charts
- 5 References
- "Leather Jackets" – 4:10
- "Hoop of Fire" – 4:14
- "Don't Trust That Woman" (Cher, Lady Choc Ice [John]) – 4:58
- "Go It Alone" – 4:26
- "Gypsy Heart" – 4:46
- "Slow Rivers" (Duet with Cliff Richard) – 3:06
- "Heartache All Over the World" – 4:01/4:17++
- "Angeline" (John, Taupin, Carvell) – 3:55
- "Memory of Love" (John, Gary Osborne) – 4:08
- "Paris" – 3:58
- "I Fall Apart" – 4:00
++There are actually two different versions of the song: on the LP original pressing, the length of "Heartache All Over the World" is 4:01 (incorrectly listed as "3:52" on the album sleeve), while on CD editions, including the 1992 American CD re-release, the version of "Heartache" includes a brief additional a capella segment during the final chorus, resulting in a length of 4:17. 
- Produced by Gus Dudgeon
- Engineered by Graham Dickson
- Mastered by Greg Fulginiti (US)
- Albert Boekholt – emulator vocals
- Alan Carvell – backing vocals
- John Deacon – bass guitar on "Angeline"
- Kiki Dee – backing vocals
- Graham Dickson – electronic percussion
- Gus Dudgeon – electronic percussion, drum programming
- Martin Fjord – orchestra contractor
- Elton John – piano, MIDI piano, Yamaha GS1, Yamaha CP-80, JX8P, vocals
- Davey Johnstone – acoustic and electric guitars, backing vocals
- Katie Kissoon – backing vocals
- Shirley Lewis – backing vocals
- Jody Linscott – percussion, tambourine
- Fred Mandel – piano, Jupiter 8, JX8P, synthesisers, DX7, Korg DW-8000, TX Rhodes, Prophet 2000, Roland P60, programming, synthesiser sequences
- Dave Mattacks – drums
- Charlie Morgan – drums, electronic percussion
- Gordon Neville – backing vocals
- James Newton-Howard – string arrangements, conductor
- David Paton – bass guitar
- Frank Ricotti – percussion
- Cliff Richard – vocals on "Slow Rivers"
- Roger Taylor – drums on "Angeline"
- Paul Westwood – bass guitar
- Pete Wingfield – backing vocals
- Gavin Wright – orchestra leader
|"Highlander"||"Heartache All Over the World" 7"/12" (US/UK)|
|"Heartache All Over the World (Megamix)"||"Heartache All Over the World" 12" (US/UK)|
|"Billy and the Kids"||"Slow Rivers" 7"/12" (UK)|
|"Lord of the Flies"||"Slow Rivers" 12" (UK)|