- Audio CD (Mar 20 2001)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Original recording remastered, Import
- Label: Island - Universal Special Imports
- ASIN: B000009EJU
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
|1. Cold As Christmas (In The Middle Of The Year)|
|2. I'm Still Standing|
|3. Too Low For Zero|
|5. I Guess Why They Call It The Blues|
|7. Kiss The Bride|
|8. Whipping Boy|
|10. One More Arrow|
|11. Earn While You Learn|
|13. The Retreat|
At the insistence of long time lyricist, Bernie Taupin, Elton decided to go back to basics and work with Taupin full time since 1976's Blue Moves. And, just as important, Elton reunited with the core of his backing band of the early 70s: Dee Murray, Nigel Olsson and Davey Johnstone. This dynamic trio never sounded so good and they easily capture the romance and aura of the sound that made so many of Elton's early albums classics. Bernie Taupin also wrote lyrics with meaning and depth. He and Elton have always been better together than writing with other artists.
From the opening chords of the first track, Cold As Christmas, listeners are in for a treat. Elton's haunting vocal, coupled with the incredible backing vocals of the band, take the listener on a story of an elderly couple whose romantic flame as burned out. Then, as if on cue, Elton cuts right to the next song, I'm Still Standing and you can almost hear him saying: "Liked the first song? I knew you would. I'm back so take notice!" The transition is a bit jarring, but hey, he was feeling frisky and that's a great thing.
From there, the album slowly builds. The synthesizers are heavy (it's 1983 afterall) but they never intrude. They supplement the melody and reinforce Elton staying with the times. The title track should have been a single as it went over big on the tour that followed. I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues remains an instant Elton classic with it's overtly sentimental lyric about pining for a love one. Stevie Wonder's express and sweet harmonic solo only add to the songs' nice touches. Elton and the band deliver a rock solid effort on this one. And speaking of rock, the "rock" songs on the album are also worthy of mentioning. Kiss The Bride and Whipping Boy are fun, yet throwaways that, taken in the context of the album, fit in just fine. Crystal relies on a drum machine and is clearly an experimental effort that again, would have made a great choice for a single. Saint and One More Arrow round out the ballads and are equally satisfying primarily on the strength of Elton's vocals. The only song here that feels out of place is Religion. An obvious attempt to mimic a country-rock feel and would have been better suited on a b-side. Though Taupin's lyric is full of great imagery and sly humor.
Too Low For Zero had three hits in the USA: I'm Still Standing amazingly just missed the Top 10; I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues peaked at #4; and the third single, Kiss The Bride, made the Top 40. It's also no secret that the videos that accompanied the singles helped reshape Elton's image for the decade.
Longtime fans waited for this one. Elton and Bernie delivered and this one is remembered as a true return to form.