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09.30.13
Reviews for "The Diving Board"

Elton John - The Diving Board
From the UK's prestigious "Uncut" magazine

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Uncut Magazine


And if that isn't enough here's what legendary music critic Robert Hilburn has to say about "The Diving Board"

When 23-year-old Elton John made his American club debut at the Troubadour in West Hollywood in the summer of 1970, he was already blessed with a deep and mature talent. The songs, which he wrote with lyricist Bernie Taupin (just 20), combined eloquent melodies and evocative lyrics that stepped boldly beyond normal Top 40 fare to embrace such diverse subjects as the innocence of youth (“Your Song”) and a respect for the elderly (“Sixty Years On”). Backed simply by bass, drums and his own piano, John delivered the songs with an intimacy and immediacy that felt straight from the heart.

Remarkably 43 years on, John and Taupin have put together a new album, “The Diving Board,” that reflects those same qualities in such splendid fashion that it serves as an inspiring bookend to the two albums Elton showcased at the Troubadour, “Elton John” and “Tumbleweed Connection.” This is music so finely crafted and deeply moving that if they had played on that 1970 night, instead of the ones that were performed, Elton would still have been showered with applause and acclaim.

It’s no wonder that one of the album’s key numbers is titled, “Home Again.” This is music that celebrates the best of Elton and Bernie’s past, but in ways that are consistently fresh and revealing. Time after time, the songs look gracefully at a similarly broad range of themes—youth to life’s lessons—but from the perspective of age. The closest parallel in recent years is the way Bob Dylan re-examined some of his early observations in such songs as “Not Dark Yet” and “Things Have Changed” more than a dozen years ago—the start of what has been a spectacular new resurgence in his own career.

Elton’s new chapter began when he teamed with producer T Bone Burnett on “The Union,” the album Elton made in 2006 with one of his musical heroes, Leon Russell. When Burnett suggested Elton return to the spare instrumentation of the Troubadour shows, Elton responded with some of his most heartfelt music in years.

Backed only by his own vibrant and warm piano styling on the opening track, he signals the album’s spirit. The song,“Ocean’s Away,” stands with the most memorable John-Taupin works—a reflection on the passage of time, touching on both those left behind and the lessons that live on. Taupin dedicates the song to his father, Captain Robert Taupin, but he speaks for everyone who has made it to a point in life where he or she understands the blessings of the past. Its chorus:

Call ’em up, n’ dust ‘em off, let ‘em shine
The ones who hold on to the ones they had to leave behind
Those that flew and those that fell, the ones that had to stay
Beneath a little wooden cross oceans away.


From there, the album travels in some surprising directions, sometimes a touch playful, other times fearlessly personal, notably in “My Quicksand,” “Voyeur” and “The New Fever Waltz.” The songwriting duo also comments on the struggles of an artist. Rather than employ the self-aggrandizement so common in contemporary pop, John and Taupin salute the dramatic exploits of two other artists, “Oscar Wilde Gets Out” and “The Ballad of Blind Tom” (Blind Tom Wiggins).

This sub-theme of artistic dreams and sacrifice is touched upon most memorably in the album’s title song, which speaks about the daring and strength required to share one’s deepest feelings in music—a quality that John and Taupin have together done consistently over the years. It’s a quality that, too, tells la lot about why their music remains so gripping. Crucially, the song is not a complaint about the fickle nature of fame or stardom. Instead, it admits the joy of being able to spend a lifetime making music that touches people. Confides Elton, “You fell in love with it all.”

 

Now Check out more "Diving Board" reviews and articles on Bernie



9.30.13

ALBUM REVIEW: Elton John, ‘The Diving Board’ - The Boston Globe
From The Boston Globe

A tremendous compilation could be made of the best songs from Elton John’s albums of the last 30 years. As whole entities, some were stronger than others, but the generally polished and competent affairs rarely demanded full replays. For the last decade or so, John and his criminally undersung lyricist Bernie Taupin have flirted with the sound of their creative ’70s peak. Produced by T Bone Burnett and assisted by a tasteful small combo, “The Diving Board,” succeeds where the others did not...

Read full article here.



9.27.13

Still Making Music Together, Far Apart
Elton John and Bernie Taupin Are Back With ‘Diving Board’
From The New York Times

The partnership started with an ad in an English music magazine in 1967. Liberty Records was looking for songwriters, and Bernie Taupin, a farmworker and amateur poet from Lincolnshire, sent in a sheaf of lyrics, not expecting much. Around the same time a frustrated young blues pianist named Reg Dwight auditioned for the label. An executive didn’t like Mr. Dwight’s material but tossed him a stack of Mr. Taupin’s lyrics and said, “See what you can do with these.”

Since then Mr. Taupin and Mr. Dwight, who later became Elton John, have written dozens of hit songs and more than two dozen albums and have sold 250 million records. Their latest effort, “The Diving Board,” a stripped-down collection of dark piano-driven songs that look backward with the heartache of advancing years, came out on Capitol Records on Tuesday; critics have called it Mr. John’s best work in decades...

Read full article here.



9.26.13

Bernie Taupin on Elton John's New LP: 'It's Kudos All Around'
From Rolling Stone

"I'm not very good with words," Elton John said when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. "I let all my expressions and my love and my pain and my anger come out with my melodies. I had someone to write my words for me. Without him, the journey would not have been possible. I kind of feel like cheating standing here accepting this. Without Bernie Taupin, there wouldn't have been any Elton John at all. And I would like him to come up and give this [award] to him."

Bernie Taupin came onto the stage and embraced his songwriting partner, whom he met in 1967 when they both responded to a "talent wanted" ad in the British music magazine NME placed by Liberty Records. Forty-six years later, they are still writing songs together. Their new album, The Diving Board, just hit shelves. We spoke to Taupin about the new album, his songwriting methods, how he wound up co-writing Jefferson Starship's 1985 hit "We Built This City" and why he blames narcotics for some of Elton John's lesser albums in the Eighties...

Read full article here.



9.24.13

Elton John finds 'room to breathe' on 'The Diving Board'
Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin say not feeling pressured to make Top 40 radio with 'The Diving Board' has freed and excited them.
From the Los Angeles Times

On Oct. 25, 1975, Elton John played the first of two sold-out concerts at Dodger Stadium for a combined audience of 110,000 people. The gigs helped establish John as one of the most theatrical pop stars in the world: a piano-pounding dynamo prowling the stage in a bedazzled Dodgers uniform. Last week, John was back in L.A., performing in a somewhat cozier, more decorous space: the 1,200-seat Bovard Auditorium at USC. The show paired the English superstar with students from the Thornton School of Music for stately renditions of hits like "Levon" and "Your Song," as well as a handful of thoughtful new tunes (including one about Oscar Wilde)...

Read full article here.



9.20.13

Elton John grows as a songwriter with leap from a bountiful ‘Diving Board’ on new album
From the Miami Herald

Elton John has alternated handles “Rocket Man” and “Captain Fantastic” for decades, but on The Diving Board his 30th studio album, he should claim “Piano Man” from Billy Joel. John has never made an album with as strong an emphasis on his piano playing as he has on his latest set. The Diving Board strips the musical accompaniment that sometimes overshadowed his main instrument to a core trio of piano, bass and drums, with only a dusting of guitar or warm brass underpinning some tunes...

Read full article here.



9.20.13

Review: Elton John, The Diving Board
From the Huffington Post

Back with his 13th solo album, Elton John's The Diving Board is slated for release in the United States by Capitol Records on September 24, 2013. The Diving Board takes us back to Elton John's early days in the music industry. Produced by T-Bone Burnett, the album features songs whose instrumentals consist of piano, bass, drums, and not much else. Burnett's goal in this album was to challenge Elton John to make music in a more intimate fashion with just a few incredibly talented artists. Courtesy of Columbia Records and two Cellos, Raphael Saadiq, Sjtepan Hauser, and Luka Sulic play with Elton John on almost all the songs featured in The Diving Board. Opening with "Oceans Away," Elton John begins the album on a more somber note, as his writing partner Bernie Taupin chose to write this song in memory of his father Captain Robert Taupin and the Great Generation. It's a beautiful song with only piano to accompany Elton John's voice. Because Elton sings on this track with minimal instrumental support, the words are more pronounced and poignant to convey the struggle of "Those that flew and those that fell / The ones that had to stay / Beneath a wooden cross oceans away..."

Read full article here.



9.14.13

'Lyricist? I think of myself as a storyteller'
Bernie Taupin, songwriting partner of Elton John, tells Mick Brown about their 28th album together, and why he'll never return to England.
From The Daily Telegraph

After more than 40 years as one half of one of the most successful songwriting partnerships in British musical history, Bernie Taupin says that he now considers writing lyrics simply as “a hobby”. At his ranch in the hill country above Santa Barbara in California where he has lived for the past 20 years, Taupin spends most of his time pursuing other passions. He paints, cooks and reads. And from a small study above his studio – decorated with a poster for The Wild Bunch, a fine pencil drawing of a young Taupin by Don Bachardy, and a photograph of Leonard Nimoy signed “to a fellow Rocket Man” – produces a weekly programme, American Roots Radio, for the American satellite station Sirius, playing an eclectic mixture of the traditional blues, country and rock ’n’ roll that has always been his abiding musical obsession...

Read full article here.



9.13.13

Elton John
The Diving Board
From Rolling Stone Reviews

Tabloid fixture, Las Vegas institution, movie producer, duet partner with everyone from Lady Gaga to Queens of the Stone Age – even in his sixties, Elton John still thrives in the spotlight. Yet musically, his priorities have shifted. When he released 2010's The Union – a triumphant collaboration with Leon Russell, which reclaimed the legacy of one of Sir Elton's greatest inspirations – he said that the project had left a permanent mark on his creative direction. No longer would he chase the fleeting vanities of pop taste, but he would commit to making music that was more honest and personal...

Read full article here.



9.10.13

Elton John - The Diving Board 5/5
From Attitude Magazine

Elton John has gone back to basics, stripping his new record down to piano, bass and drums, and writing most of it in just two days. Nowhere is the beauty of the album better presented than in the opening track Oceans Away, a WW1 tribute dedicated to Bernie Taupin’s father. With its Your Song-esque intro, it echoes Elton’s musical beginnings, but his voice and lyrics are now rooted in the mature worldliness of a wiser man. More so than ever before, this record is almost a duet between Elton and the piano, with prominent and complex motifs on the keyboard making up the backbone of Oscar Wilde Gets Out and Ballad Of Blind Tom, plus further indulgences in several Dreaminterludes. He flits from his famous jazzy riffs, to a fresher country sound on tracks like Can’t Stay Alone Tonight, with the help of producer T-Bone Burnett. As ever, Elton writes beautiful songs, but here with such minimal orchestration it is crystal clear why his position as the father of British pop is both deserved and well maintained. Other highlights include the dark personal ballad My Quicksand and the captivating lead single Home Again, which should instantly join his legendary canon. His recent fatherhood doesn’t present itself as a theme, but he’s not exactly short on inspiration. Writing with life experience, and an unrivalled ‘view from the diving board’, Elton has produced a late career classic to match recent efforts by Springsteen and Bowie - and it’s not too soon to say it’s one of his all time best.

Uncut Magazine




10.07.13

Elton John - Genius
From GQ Magazine

For the last decade or so, Sir Elton John has been turning into Philip Roth. Like the American novelist, who has produced more great books in the last 20 years than the rest of his career, Elton has been experiencing a late purple patch, a re-blossoming that has resulted in an extraordinary run of albums that began in 2001 with Songs From The West Coast and includes Peachtree Road (2004), The Captain & The Kid (the 2006 sequel to Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy that includes one of Elton and career-long conspirator Bernie Taupin's finest ever songs. 'Tinderbox'), The Union (his 2010 solo collaboration with Leon Russell), the remarkable Good Morning To The Night (a reinterpretation of his seventies back catalogue by Australian duo Pnau, which appeared last year), and now The Diving Board, yet another collection of reflective, intricate songs that equal anything he has done in the past.

A return to the stripped-back studio sound of the early Seventies, it is an album that relies almost completely on it's material. All the songs have been written with Taupin and all are testament to Elton's determination to continue to make good music in spite of the throwaway, fly-by-night nature of much of today's chart fodder.

The piano man is doing things his own was and is as proud of this album as any he's recorded in the last 40 years.

'The great advantage of having Bernie as a lyricist is he's a very cinematic writer', says Elton. 'I get a piece of paper from him and it has a story on it, then I sit down at the keyboard and because the story he's telling affects what I'm hearing, something comes out. I don't know what it is, it's as exciting as it was when I wrote the first melody to his lyric, way back in 1967'.

At the age of 66 Elton appears to be getting better and better, and while he can still fill a stadium, a sports arena or a Las Vegas showroom at the drop of a turquoise astrakhan fez, his albums are becoming more intimate, more considered, and dare we say it, more mature.

As for Elton's next album, who's to say it won't rival I Married a Communist, The Human Stain, The Plot Against America or The humbling?

View article here.


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