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John, Elton - 1982 Jump Up!

ARTIST: John, Elton
ALBUM: Jump Up!
LABEL: Rocket
SERIAL: 6302-180, HISPD 127
YEAR: 1982
CD REISSUE: 1992, MCA, MCAD-10499 * 2003, Rocket, 077 112-2


LINEUP: Elton John - vocals, piano * Richie Zito, Pete Townshend - guitar * Dee Murray - bass * Jeff Porcaro, Steven Holly - drums * James Newton-Howard - synthesizers

TRACK LISTING: 01 Dear John * 02 Spiteful Child * 03 Ball & Chain * 04 Legal Boys * 05 I Am Your Robot * 06 Blue Eyes * 07 Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny) * 08 Princess * 09 Where Have All The Good Times Gone? * 10 All Quiet On The Western Front


Regardless of the bloated caricature Elton John degenerated into after his regaining his full head of hair sometime in the early 90's, there's no denying the man's musical excellence through most of his career. Indeed through the 80's Elton adopted the AOR influences that ran roughshod over much of the decade and for a melodic whizz like him I think it was a natural fit. Coming out of the 70's Elton seemed to be on a slight decline, having peaked as one of the biggest stars of the decade some years earlier. He came in for some flak for the 1979 disco tinged 'Victim of Love', but it isn't too bad if given the chance. Both 1980's '21 at 33' and 1981's 'The Fox' both contained some nifty West Coast overtones, with numerous studio luminaries of the L.A. scene getting in on the act assisting Elton. Sounds like a great recipe doesn't it? Listen to 1980's 'Give Me The Love' and you'll know the answer.. A year later the results were even better, 'Jump Up' being one of the more consistent albums of the decade for Elton, even if it seems to have been buried in the scheme of things in his career.

The Songs
The previous year's 'The Fox' was largely a collection of B-sides and older material, making this material more of a reflection of Elton's current direction. There is clearly a move towards the harder rock of the 70's, with 'Dear John' a punchy opener throwing plenty of keyboards into the mix. This is the real rocker Elton at work here. 'Spiteful Child' opens with some vintage Elton piano notes, but eases into a competent chorus, again upbeat and commercial at the same time. Pete Townshend shows up to add guitar to the acoustic 'Ball And Chain', a simple sing-along track that recalls Fleetwood Mac to these ears. Before hearing 'Legal Boys' I had some doubts as to its content as you might expect, but this co-write with Tim Rice is Elton's West Coast masterpiece rallying against the accountants of the world during a bitter divorce (so I take it anyway). This is a lost melodic classic which is one of his best of the decade, definitely worth hearing. From what I've read 'I'm Your Robot' is one of Elton (and Bernie Taupin's) most hated songs, but I find that hard to believe. For lovers of heavy AOR this is a stunning workout that stands proudly with every other 1982 winner. I can't get enough of it for one, the riffs and synths giving it that lofty status, Elton barking out the vocals also. 'Blue Eyes' was a significant hit, a much more mellow ballad, but still within the West Coast ideology. Even more popular was 'Empty Garden', the famous tribute to John Lennon and a truly brilliant song at that. This is one of the best songs of Elton's career, not just the album itself, tremendously atmospheric and moving. 'Princess' is another effortless soft rock staple, similar to 'Little Jeannie', but with a touch more bite, to the point this could have been on any Toto album. 'Where Have All The Good Times Gone' has elements of the mid 70's Elton period, much in the 'Philadephia Freedom' mould. With its war themes 'All Quiet On The Western Front' is much lighter, but with a great performance on vocals by Elton, sadly overlooked.

In Summary
If Bernie Taupin really did say this was disposable and one of their worst albums, then he must have an extremely high bar of excellence. I don't hear a bad song in the bunch and I'm glad I decided to give this album a chance, because it's high on quotients of AOR, as would be the rest of Elton's remaining 80's albums. They are all good in their own right, but this is probably the best place to start and I think this is far from the last I'll be investigating to review here.

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#1 | gdazegod on January 02 2013 13:32:15
Spent some time listening to this today. The last track 'All Quiet On The Western Front' was quite poignant.
#2 | gdazegod on December 10 2017 02:34:14
Definitely more EJ reviews coming down the pike.

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