Elton John would begin his 1980’s comeback with 1982’s very solid Jump Up. The comeback continued a year later with the release of Too Low For Zero.
He would reach back into his past for this album. Bernie Taupin would return to full time duty and provide all the lyrics. Their relationship continues to the present day. He also reassembled his classic backing band from the seventies. Guitarist Davey Johnstone, bassist Dee Murray, and drummer Nigel Olsson quickly slipped back into their roles as a great supporting cast of players.
While some of the material may fall into the average range; there were three classic songs that made the album a must buy and still make it an interesting listen over a quarter of a century later. Elton John and producer Chris Thomas recognized the superiority of these tracks as all were released as singles and would become worldwide hits.
“I’m Still Standing” was an upbeat song about still being around after all these years. This hit single is still popular and remains a part of his live show. “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues” is as good a ballad as he has produced and remains one of his most popular eighties songs. Using only his basic band and some harmonica playing by Stevie Wonder it would reach number four on the American charts.
“Kiss The Bride” is probably the forgotten one of the three singles but remains my personal favorite. It features some nice rock ‘n’ roll and is about falling in love with the bride as she walks down the aisle. It reminds me of the great Nick Lowe/Dave Edmunds song “I Knew The Bride.”
There are a couple other songs of interest. “Cold As Christmas (In The Middle Of The Year)” is one of those songs where the music and lyrics do not match. It is melodic with some wonderful vocal phrasing yet the words tell the story of a failing relationship. The title song is more of the same as it has a great beat and chorus yet the lyrics are about depression and boredom.
The only real miss among the ten tracks is “Whipping Boy” which is about masochism and musically is repetitive which is not the best combination.
Too Low For Zero is an under appreciated release that is often lost in his vast catalog. It is an album with some real high points plus a good supporting cast. It deserves a listen every now and then.