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Elton John - Too Low For Zero

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Too Low For Zero

Elton John

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Elton John began inching back into the mainstream with Jump Up, an uneven but strong record highlighted by "Empty Garden." Its success set the stage for Too Low for Zero, a full-fledged reunion with his best collaborator, Bernie Taupin, and his classic touring band. Happily, this is a reunion that works like gangbusters, capturing everybody at a near-peak of their form. That means there aren't just hit singles, but there are album tracks, like the opener, "Cold as Christmas (In the Middle of the Year)," that strongly (and favorably) recall Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. John hadn't been this engaging in years, not since Gerald Ford was in office. Why does this work so well? Well, the question isn't just consistency, since records like A Single Man were strong, but it's because each cut here showcases John at a peak. He's rocking with a vengeance on "I'm Still Standing" and "Kiss the Bride," crafting a gorgeous romantic standard with "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" -- songs that anchor this album, giving the hits context. While this may not be as rich as his classic early period, it's a terrific record, an exemplary illustration of what a veteran artist could achieve in the early '80s.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Too Low For Zero

Elton John

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1
Cold As Christmas (In The Middle Of The Year)
Elton John
00:04:21

Bill Price, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - CHRIS THOMAS, Producer - Bernie Taupin, ComposerLyricist - Elton John, Keyboards, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Ray Cooper, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Skaila Kanga, Harp, AssociatedPerformer - Nigel Olsson, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Kiki Dee, Additional Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Dee Murray, Bass Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1983 Mercury Records Limited

2
I'm Still Standing
Elton John
00:03:03

Bill Price, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - CHRIS THOMAS, Producer - Bernie Taupin, ComposerLyricist - Elton John, Keyboards, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Nigel Olsson, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Dee Murray, Bass Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1983 Universal Music Operations Limited

3
Too Low For Zero
Elton John
00:05:46

Bill Price, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - CHRIS THOMAS, Producer - Bernie Taupin, ComposerLyricist - Elton John, Keyboards, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Nigel Olsson, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Dee Murray, Bass Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1983 Mercury Records Limited

4
Religion
Elton John
00:04:06

Bill Price, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - CHRIS THOMAS, Producer - Bernie Taupin, ComposerLyricist - Elton John, Keyboards, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Nigel Olsson, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Dee Murray, Bass Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1983 Mercury Records Limited

5
I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues
Elton John
00:04:45

Bill Price, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - CHRIS THOMAS, Producer - Bernie Taupin, ComposerLyricist - Elton John, Keyboards, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Stevie Wonder, Harmonica, AssociatedPerformer - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Nigel Olsson, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Dee Murray, Bass Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1983 Universal Music Operations Limited

6
Crystal
Elton John
00:05:05

Bill Price, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - CHRIS THOMAS, Producer - Bernie Taupin, ComposerLyricist - Elton John, Keyboards, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Nigel Olsson, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Dee Murray, Bass Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1983 Mercury Records Limited

7
Kiss The Bride
Elton John
00:04:22

Bill Price, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - CHRIS THOMAS, Producer - Bernie Taupin, ComposerLyricist - Elton John, Keyboards, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Nigel Olsson, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Dee Murray, Bass Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1983 Universal Music Operations Limited

8
Whipping Boy
Elton John
00:03:44

Bill Price, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - CHRIS THOMAS, Producer - Bernie Taupin, ComposerLyricist - Elton John, Keyboards, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Nigel Olsson, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Dee Murray, Bass Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1983 Mercury Records Limited

9
Saint
Elton John
00:05:20

Bill Price, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - CHRIS THOMAS, Producer - Bernie Taupin, ComposerLyricist - Elton John, Keyboards, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Nigel Olsson, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Dee Murray, Bass Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1983 Mercury Records Limited

10
One More Arrow
Elton John
00:03:47

Bill Price, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - CHRIS THOMAS, Producer - Bernie Taupin, ComposerLyricist - Elton John, Keyboards, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Davey Johnstone, Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Nigel Olsson, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - James Newton Howard, Conductor, String Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Dee Murray, Bass Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1983 Mercury Records Limited

11
Earn While You Learn
Lord Choc Ice
00:06:46

Elton John, Composer, Producer, Keyboards, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Ray Cooper, Tambourine, Triangle, AssociatedPerformer - Tim Renwick, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Lord Choc Ice, MainArtist - Clive Franks, Producer, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Holly, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1983 Mercury Records Limited

12
Dreamboat
Elton John
00:07:34

Paul Buckmaster, Recording Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Elton John, Producer, Keyboards, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Ray Cooper, Tambourine, AssociatedPerformer - Tim Renwick, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Gary Osborne, ComposerLyricist - Clive Franks, Producer, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Holly, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1983 Mercury Records Limited

13
The Retreat
Elton John
00:04:43

Alvin Tyler, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Bernie Taupin, ComposerLyricist - Elton John, Producer, Keyboards, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - DAVID PAICH, Organ, AssociatedPerformer - STEVE LUKATHER, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - James Newton Howard, Synthesizer, AssociatedPerformer - Reggie McBride, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Clive Franks, Producer

℗ 1982 Mercury Records Limited

Album Description

Elton John began inching back into the mainstream with Jump Up, an uneven but strong record highlighted by "Empty Garden." Its success set the stage for Too Low for Zero, a full-fledged reunion with his best collaborator, Bernie Taupin, and his classic touring band. Happily, this is a reunion that works like gangbusters, capturing everybody at a near-peak of their form. That means there aren't just hit singles, but there are album tracks, like the opener, "Cold as Christmas (In the Middle of the Year)," that strongly (and favorably) recall Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. John hadn't been this engaging in years, not since Gerald Ford was in office. Why does this work so well? Well, the question isn't just consistency, since records like A Single Man were strong, but it's because each cut here showcases John at a peak. He's rocking with a vengeance on "I'm Still Standing" and "Kiss the Bride," crafting a gorgeous romantic standard with "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" -- songs that anchor this album, giving the hits context. While this may not be as rich as his classic early period, it's a terrific record, an exemplary illustration of what a veteran artist could achieve in the early '80s.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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