Elton John - The Diving Board
There’s really no need for introductions for Elton, sorry, Sir Elton John, whether it’s his gold standard seventies fare (‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’), his eighties commercial heyday (‘Sacrifice’), his Disney years (‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’) or his Broadway wilderness years (the Billy Elliott musical), everyone has an Elton they can at least respect. In his fifth decade at the top he’s had somewhat of an Indian Summer, with his exceptionally well received album The Union with Leon Russell. Now on album number thirty he’s teamed with T-Bone Burnett - again aiming to lengthen that return to favour.
And he’s mostly successful with The Diving Board. Although the album initially feels front-loaded with the good stuff, there are cracking tunes throughout. Reminders of his and Bernie Taupin’s most productive period, ‘Oscar Wilde Gets Out’ and ‘A Town Called Jubilee’ are all Elton blues piano and melodies, with gospel choir on the latter. ‘Voyeur’ and ‘The Ballad Of Blind Tom’ could have been written forty years ago, as could ‘Take This Dirty Water’, which has echoes of his best stuff, or the sultry blues of the title track. There are some very dull tracks too though, generally the slower ones, including lead single ‘Home Again’ and opener ‘Oceans Away’, the two most prominent offenders. Very Elton, this is so very nearly a full return to form; some tracklist editing would have done it wonders and the three ‘Dream’ interludes add nothing. This is step two on the road to musical redemption. The bitch is definitely back.