Here’s where I admit that my Elton John deep dive become a lot more like dipping my toe in the pool once I got past 1974. John has released 22 albums since Caribou and only three of them are represented on my playlist.
Did I listen to all 22? No, I did not. Taking my cue from Rocketman, I stopped with ‘I’m Still Standing’ and the 1983 album Too Low For Zero on which it appears. If he found nothing in the 13 albums that followed worth putting on screen, who am I to argue?
I didn’t fully listen to the eight albums between Caribou and Too Low For Zero either. Some of those are considered his worst efforts, including the albums he wrote without Bernie Taupin.
I did find room for ‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight’ from 1975’s Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy and ‘Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word’ from 1976’s Blue Moves. But that’s it.
Too Low For Zero, released in 1983, made for a nice comeback. Not only did it produce the hits ‘I’m Still Standing’ and ‘I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues,’ but the whole album has a distinct sound and energy that set it apart.
Those two singles made my playlist, along with the title track, and one other song: ‘Crystal.’ Of all the deep cuts on Too Low For Zero, this is the one that captured me immediately and begged for additional listens.
Thanks for following along on this two-week Elton John appreciation. Please comment with any additional songs you think are worth checking out, especially if they come from the 19 albums I ignored.
We’re caught up in a web, you and I
Since Crystal came between us
The knots of friendship seem to be untied
And it hurts me most to cheat and that’s no lie
She can swing us both forever
In the long run she’s the one who must decide
And if she leaves me handle her with care
Don’t hurt little Crystal
And if she calls you long distance just be there
The world is your oyster, you’re a pearl
But he’s a jewel and my friend
I’m sure that in the end, Crystal you’ll be his little girl
You’re stronger than me but I’m sure
That the fight would fall to no one
The cold hard truth is stronger than us all
And it breaks my heart to see us go this far
We’re just captives in our separate cells
And without her there’s no peace behind these bars
This was the last Elton album to really capture my attention as well. The one song I’m surprised did not make your list from this album is the haunting “One More Arrow.”
The albums between Caribou and Too Low For Zero feature many great, overlooked tunes. And only ONE of those albums is a stinker. Jump Up is solid from start to finish, despite what Bernie says. ‘Empty Garden’ & ‘Blue Eyes’ everyone knows but all the other songs are winners in my opinion. All of them. The album that precedes that one is The Fox and it has been a sneaky favorite of mine since I bought on vinyl in the mid-80s. The song ‘Chloe’ is one of Elton’s best from the decade. Right before that one is 21 at 33. ‘Little Jeannie’ is a great song that was a big hit and should be on any playlist. ‘Sartorial Eloquence’ is nice along with everything else on it. It has a good flow. The album prior to that is Elton’s clunker. You can totally skip Victim of Love. But DO NOT sleep on The Complete Thom Bell Sessions. It was recorded in 1977 but wasn’t released til ’79. It was expanded with additional tracks when it came out on CD 10 years later. Find that one. You can categorize it as disco or Philadelphia soul. Whatever. It’s awesome. A Single Man from 1978 has some cool songs on it. ‘Song for Guy’ has rare Elton-composed lyrics. They show up late in the song and were inspired (supernaturally?) by the accidental death of a teen named Guy who worked for Elton as a delivery boy. You are somewhat familiar with Blue Moves but the hidden gem on that one is ‘Cage the Songbird’. It’s a perfect song. And a DEEP cut from Blue Moves called ‘Where’s the Shoorah?’ got fresh new exposure in Elton’s 2021 mash-up hit with Dua Lipa, ‘Cold Heart’. The two 1975 albums Cap’n Fantastic & Rock of the Westies need to be owned. They are the last of Elton’s “Golden Era” where his voice and style are in keeping with everything that came before. And great songs are featured on each. ‘Tower of Babel’ is a song from Cap’n that gets no love. Except in my living room, apparently.