In my opinion, this is the true apex of Elton's career, where he put everything together. His (and Bernie Taupin's) great songwriting had never been in question over the years; but he always seemed to be struggling with each album as to what he was really trying to accomplish - either artistic integrity, or trying to sell en masse. Too Low For Zero is his most relaxed and even album.
On the commercial side, the two first singles, "I'm Still Standing" and "Kiss The Bride", rank with my favorite commercial Elton songs. Both are undeniably catchy and rock as much as he did in the eighties...and having his old band together made it easy for him to let loose. The big surprise was the success of the terrific "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues", a sensational song that was more in place with Elton's early seventies material.
But on the less commercial side, jewels abound. "Cold as Christmas", the album's opener, is a terrific sad ballad that is a real treasure. "Crystal" is a stripped-down upbeat number that gets further into your head with each listen. And "Saint" might be my favorite Elton song of all time...a strange ballad that is almost indescribable, yet hypnotically beautiful and blossoms with perhaps the best Davey Johnstone guitar solo of all. It might also be Bernie Taupin's best work as a lyricist, which is saying something! And the title track is a moody piece, although mid-tempo, that lingers with you.
If you want to experience various stages of Elton's career, pick "Madman Across The Water" for his non-commercial times, "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" for his peak of popularity or "Peachtree Road" for his return to his roots. But if you want the whole package in one CD - this is where it all arrived together.