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4.5 out of 5 stars257
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on 1 November 2013
For those of you who think that Elton John was at his peak with the likes of Madman Across The Water, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road then this album is a must buy. Too early to say if the lyrics will become classics like Tiny Dancer, but the performances are in a class of their own. Stripped back to a simple band, and then recorded with minimal studio magic has resulted in John's vocals and piano work to the for.
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on 12 October 2013
In the last few years every new studio album released by Elton John has been hailed by both critics and fans as his best work in decades. The Diving Board has done exactly that, even surpassing it's recent predecessors! It's been well documented that Elton had a lot of time to live with the finished body of work and had returned to studio to improve upon it. This payed off as we are left with an outstanding body of music!

The star tracks are the bluesy country flavoured Can't Stay Alone Tonight; the previous title track Voyeur, of which could easily have been released as a single with it's beautiful harmonies and unique bass section; and The New Fever Waltz with it's somber tune and piano keys reminiscent of Carla Etude. The songs are all a very beautiful and melodic that cross a range of genre from piano rock and roll, blues, country and jazz . This mixed bag of genres are married together by three short instrumentals that divide the album and gives the listener a break before the next selection plays.

Of all the versions out there, I prefer the double cd with all the bonus material on the second disc as I find it demanding to listen to a lengthy album with numerous songs.

The piano, drums and bass themed album is well structured and Elton John reminds us what a great musician and artist he is by stripping down the music to show it has substance.
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I think this is a good Elton John album, although probably not a great one.

Elton's great strength as a songwriter has always been his ability to create a great tune with genuinely interesting and often original structures and harmonic backing. There are songs here which really do fall into that category - Oceans Away, My Quicksand and Home Again, for example. Oscar Wilde Gets Out, too, is a fine and genuinely passionate polemic about Wilde's mistreatment with very strong lyrics and which stands with Elton's best work. However, there are some which don't really shine after repeated listening for me - Dream #1 and Voyeur among them. They are perfectly OK but seem a little ordinary to my ears. And although My Quicksand is a really good song, it gets a bit self-indulgent (that "joke" Grieg quotation gets very wearing after a couple of hearings, for example) and would have been better if it were a minute shorter.

Bernie Taupin's lyrics are still very good (I don't think he gets the credit he deserves as a fine lyricist) and the production is great. It's generally reasonably restrained which works very well with the songs here, and Elton's voice sounds good. He may not be able to belt it out as he did 40 years ago, but he's still a fine singer and can put a song across brilliantly, and it's good to see that he can still make a good album. Fans like me who have followed Elton John down the decades may not be set on fire but they certainly won't be disappointed.
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The narrative around Elton John's new album "Diving Board" is about a return to a stripped down, sparse piano and lyric-driven sensibility of his early days. Go back to 2001 and the same claims were also being made for the excellent "Songs from the West Coast". But on this album Elton John has again enlisted the producing "gun for hire" T Bone Burnett, fresh from work with Diana Krall, Steve Earle, Gregg Allman and of course rekindling the link with Elton forged on 2011's "The Union". The Burnett and John link up adds new dimensions not least with Bernie Taupin firing on all lyrical cylinders and the producer essentially dismissing band support. The result is that "The Diving Board" is a fine album recalling the wonders of the early Elton which got lost over the years in "Tantrums and Tiaras". So it back to a proper emphasis on songs and all the better for it. Opener "Oceans Away" sets the tone with Elton singing better than ever as and where he opens with the confession that "I hung out with the old folks/ in the hope that I'd get wise/I was trying to bridge the gap, between the great divide". Other great songs follow not least the haunting "Town called jubilee" and the brilliant standout "My Quicksand" which is one of the better songs he has written in years. The album is punctuated with 3 "Dream" piano interludes and the sumptuous third of these is also Keith Jarrett like in composition.

Songs like "Can I stay alone tonight" hark back to that vintage era of "Tumbleweed Connection" as does the splendid "Take This Dirty Water" where Elton sings sagely "If you break some bones on landing/ You'll know you're built to last". It is three of the darker songs here however which impress most. "Oscar Wilde gets out" charting the writers sad departure to France post Reading Jail is an automatic start for downloads. The "New Fever Waltz" would not go amiss on a Tom Waits album while the highly reflective almost Randy Newman style song "Home Again" is pure class.

"The Diving Board" is a master class in song writing and sees Elton John at his most intimate and introspective. Perhaps it is not sardine packed with obvious hits but taken as a whole it is his most solid and worthwhile album in a decade. The old Rocket Man has got back into groove, and achieved lift off. Part of this stems from the fact that he is clearly enjoying himself greatly not least on the evidence of "Mexican Vacation (Kids in Candlelight)" and the excellent bluesy title track. This reviewer would not claim to be a fully paid up member of the Elton John fan club but this is one record of his that you really need.
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on 17 September 2013
I guess with all these recent new offerings from our senior tried & tested musicians, I tend to look for that familiar carpet slipper feeling - a hint of the old - and that is definitely here especially with Can't Stay Alone Tonight,Voyeur &Home Again.
My favourites, to date, are Oceans Away,The New Fever Waltz & the outstanding My Quicksand.
Currently a free MP3 download from Amazon, the bonus track is available only on some versions of the main album, and this also floats my boat!

Just short of an hour of EJ - overall a mixed bag with some I like and some I have yet to come to appreciate but, I am sure, like ROD, it will grow on me!

ooOoo

EDITED TO ADD

STOP PRESS *** 19th September 2013 - now part of Amazon's 'Two CDs for £15' offer ***
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on 29 November 2013
Love this album. Voice is more controlled and assured. He seems to have rediscovered a zest for music that he lost a touch. Such a gifted musician on top form.
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on 2 January 2014
I purchased this CD after seeing Elton John at the Palladium back at the end of the summer. He performed a few of the tracks from this CD, which I liked instantly. I have to say that the piano plays a big part in this album, which demonstrates what a brilliant musician he is, and if you love jazz, you will particularly like this album. Well done Elton - another hit!
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on 10 October 2013
I love this new album of Elton Johns. It is of course a stark contrast to some of his earlier work when he first started out. An easy album to listen to and very melodic, the piano playing expressing his many years of dedicated practice. I would definitely recommend this whether you are a fan or not!
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on 28 September 2013
This is the one..........
On the first play maybe one or two tracks may grab you!
After that the whole masterpiece will absorb the listener ......and take no prisoners.
The free download of 5th avenue will just complete the experience .
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on 10 October 2013
This album is without no doubt Elton's best work since Songs From The West Coast. All the songs on the album take you back to the days of Madman Across The Water, Tumbleweed Connections. Quite simply this is just as good as Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.
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