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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 23 November 2013
With Elton's piano and voice at the fore throughout the majority of this album, "The Diving Board" continues Elton's creative purple patch and delivers an album reminiscent of some of his best work from the early seventies. It's not a particularly instant piece of work and like "Tumbleweed Connection" requires a little bit of time and focus to appreciate everything Elton and Bernie are trying to get across on this project. The first time I listened to it, I concluded that it was a rather nice album, but a little unremarkable. Half a dozen playbacks later and I think that it's really a rather wonderful album indeed. It is a relatively gentle affair, very little that gets out of second gear here, but the music and lyrics really are largely fantastic and it proves to be a very good piece of work to simply relax to and enjoy. It also feels like a truly accomplished album, rather that just a collection of songs, with some lovely short pieces of incidental, instrumental music to tie everything together. In other words, it's a classy affair.

There aren't many compositions here which are less than excellent. The highlights are plentiful, with my favourites including the magnificent "Oscar Wilde Gets Out", imagining the scene when Wilde was released from his couple of years hard labour, "A Town Called Jubilee", one of Bernie's many richly descriptive pieces of prose based on small town old America and "The Ballad Of Blind Tom", which tells the story of a blind pianist over a deft riff and an uplifting, catchy chorus. The mournful "My Quicksand" is also rather excellent, "Voyeur", even with its piano line a little reminiscent of Cat Stevens' "Matthew and Son" is one of the best songs on the album and "Home Again" is a beautiful, wistful piece with a longing chorus. Other stand-outs on the album are "The New Fever Waltz", "Mexican Vacation (Kids In The Candlelight)" and the excellent title track. There are, simply, too many top-quality songs here to list them all in any great detail. The only song that sounds a little contrived and pedestrian here is "Can't Stay Alone Tonight", which doesn't have the level of intricacy and thought to either the music or lyrics that make the other songs so appealing. It's pleasant enough, of course, but the rest of the material on offer here puts it to shame. The bonus live tracks really aren't worth the extra money on the deluxe edition either, as the tinny, distorted piano sound is quite awful and compares badly with such a beautifully recorded studio album. To be frank, I find them quite difficult to listen to, especially right after the main album, so they're a bit of a disappointment.

To surmise, I don't think it's quite as good as his best album from the last twenty years, "Songs From The West Coast", but it's probably better than anything else from these last two decades which, considering the other excellent efforts such as "Peachtree Road" and "The Captain and The Kid" (I wasn't over-awed by "The Union"), isn't exactly faint praise. His piano playing is creative, painting beauteous, intricate pictures within the songs, and, although his voice perhaps lacks the range it once had, he delivers these songs with real belief in the material and makes the most of what he still has. Lyrically, "The Diving Board" is nothing short of excellent and the long-standing partnership between Elton and Bernie sounds as fresh today as it did forty years ago. This album may be a little too slow-paced and gentle for some palates, but if you appreciate beautifully crafted songs and some of the less-commercial efforts that Elton has released over the years, especially in his early days, then "The Diving Board" will probably be something you will enjoy greatly.
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on 3 October 2013
The Jimmies

As can be seen from other reviews, some love this album while others (including self-declared EJ fans) either hate it or are at best lukewarm. Well, this reviewer just loves it - and it gets better and better the more times I listen to it.

EJ has emerged from what I would consider a kind of comfort zone to deliver this album. This comfort zone included use of his longstanding backing band and crafting and arranging tunes to take account of his band's strengths (particularly evident on the fine Songs from the West Coast album, the less good Peachtree Road album and his most recent solo effort, The Captain and the Kid. On this album, he's crafted songs primarily for himself and piano - and the excellent session musicians and TBone production provide sensitive back-up to this approach. It has resulted in a cohesive suite of relatively sparse, excellent, but piano-rich tracks, far removed from the heavily arranged norm. What some people would consider the "EJ sound" is markedly absent here, and the album is all the better for it. The songs (based on a set of Taupin lyrics that among his best) are honest, rootsy and non-commercial. They are a breath of fresh air and befit an artist of EJ's age and rich musical heritage.

Among the real highlights for me are Oceans Away, Oscar Wilde Gets Out, The Ballad of Blind Tom, Voyeur, The Diving Board, the outstanding instrumental Dream #3, and Can't Stay Alone Tonight (a vastly superior country song that shows what Turn the Lights Out from the Peachtree album could have been with more rigorous quality control and musical de-cluttering).

This album is so surprising ... it harks back to the days when the Elton John, Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across the Water, Honky Chateau, Don't Shoot Me, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Caribou, Captain Fantastic, Rock of the Westies and Blue Moves albums all sounded completely different to each other showed progression and versatility. I suspect that this album will one that I will go back to again and again in years to come, just like Madman Across the Water and in contrast with most of EJ's recent output.

Five stars and well deserved!
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on 23 May 2015
Elton and Bernie in great mood.
Elton John gets back to his roots with melancholic piano music at its best. These songs are strong with inner meaning and thoughtful attitudes to life.
Is our Elton looking back with these songs, well maybe, but with this result keep going in reverse.
There is an added passion on this album that flows throughout.
If you one of the old fans that had given up on him, buy this give it a couple of listens without pre judging.
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on 15 February 2014
If you listen to this album 1 to 3 times you will dislike it and put it away in a drawer. Like the majority of ELTON JOHN albums you need to listen properly. Switch off the television, tell the wife to be nice and quiet, read the lyrics and listen like you used to when you were a teenager. After 5 listens you will love it, and after 10 or more you will realise that ELTON has written yet another classic album. Its atmospheric, beautiful, and the best thing your ears will hear this year. Nick.
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on 26 October 2013
I went off Elton a few years ago having been repeatedly disappointed with the quality of his later albums. However, having read a few reviews here I gave the Diving Board listen and was very happy indeed. This is the Elton I loved - great melodies, the piano to the fore. This deluxe album is well worth the money and I highly recommend it for newcomers or older fans like me. This has been well described by others here so no need to go over it again , Just listen and enjoy - Reg still has it! MOC - DUBLIN
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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 18 November 2015
Not the best Elton has done i dont know what it is but it must be getting harder these days for Elton & Bernie to come up with an album and say wow nothing memorable to call a classic here. Apart from that Elton is the best live performer and may he still reign .
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on 29 September 2015
Elton's very best work for a long time and in his top 5 albums ever. Even the extra tracks on the bonus cd version are top quality. Amazing how he keeps coming up with consistent quality albums.
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on 24 November 2013
Producer T-Bone Burnett has produced a classic acoustic album that's quite reminiscent of Elton's early work. It is definitely Elton's best 21st century album, if not the best of his entire career. The string of strong and superb albums has begun with Songs From The West Coast (2001), followed by Peachtree Road (2004), The Captain And The Kid (2006) and the brilliant The Union (2010). The Diving Board is Elton at his best - musically and vocally, with a strong set of songs, diverse in musical styles (rock, blues, gospel, jazz, country and even waltz) and lyrical themes. Thumbs up for this truly masterpiece!
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on 8 April 2017
great music
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