Elton John returned in April of 1982 with one of his most consistent albums of the 1980s. He seemed to be more relaxed and at ease with himself and the overall quality of the material reflected these facts.
The quality of the album was helped by the part time return of his long time lyricist Bernie Taupin who co-wrote five of the ten tracks. Gary Osborne was on board for four tracks but it was the one song co-written with Tim Rice that would look ahead to the future. While “Legal Boys” was a witty if forgettable tune about divorce; it was the beginning of a relationship which would lead to The Lion King in 1997 and Aida in 1998.
Today Jump Up is best remembered for the two hit singles it produced. “Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)” was a moving tribute to John Lennon who had been murdered in December of 1980. Lennon’s last live appearance had been on stage at an Elton John concert and this poignant song was about an empty Madison Square Garden. “Blue Eyes” would become a number one adult contemporary hit which was a direction in which his music would move as the decade passed. It featured one of the lower register vocals of his career. Both songs would echo some of his classic singles from the seventies.
The most ambitious track was “All Quiet On The Western Front.” It combined sophisticated lyrics from Taupin and building music from John as it told a tale of the First World War.
The rest of the tracks are at least solid. “Spiteful Child” features some tasty guitar licks from Pete Townshend. “Princess” is a romantic pop ballad that may not be of the quality of his best work but it is still above average for the time period. Even the somewhat odd “I Am Your Robot” contains some good rock ‘n’ roll.
While Jump Up may be somewhat forgotten given the excellence of his vast catalogue; it does remain a very good effort. It catches him at a point when he had become comfortable with the second part of his career and was producing good music again on his own terms.