It was always going to be hard to follow his hugely successful 1983 album, Too low for zero, which is regarded as something a comeback album. Not that Elton had ever been away, but his albums during the period 1977 to 1982 aren't generally held in such high regard as most of his early albums released between 1970 and 1976. Actually, Elton's albums from that period aren't all as bad as some would have you believe. I enjoy some of them, particularly Blue moves and 21 at 33, but it would be fair to say that Elton made some mistakes during that period, the biggest by far being the album Victim of love. So the 1983 comeback (if that's what it was) surprised a lot of people who had written Elton off as a has-been. But with this album, Elton proved that Too low for zero was no fluke. While Breaking hearts doesn't quite match the brilliance of its predecessor, it comes close. With basically the same people involved, and the same recording studio in Montserrat (some years before the volcanic eruption that devastated the island), the sound and style is similar to Too low for zero, the difference being in the songs.
Four of the songs here became British hits (though only two were big hits), while there were three hits in America, although only two hits were the same songs in both countries. The standout track on the album is Sad songs say so much. It made the American top five and the British top ten. The second and biggest British hit (where it made the top five) from the album was Passengers. The lyrics are difficult to understand, but the liner notes to this re-mastered CD suggest that it is actually about South African apartheid, so the train and its would-be passengers are metaphorical. Passengers never became an American single, for whatever reason. The third British single and the second American single was Who wears these shoes?. It made the top twenty in America but was only a minor British hit, perhaps because most people who wanted the song bought the album. The third American single, In neon, became a top forty hit there. In Britain, that song was relegated to the B-side, with the A-side being the album's title track, but it was only a minor hit. Again, any Brits who wanted it probably already had the album.
The five tracks already mentioned provide reasons enough to buy the album, but the other five tracks (Restless, Slow down Georgie she`s poison, Li'l 'frigate, Burning bridges, Did he shoot her?) are all worth a listen. Perhaps the pick of them is Burning bridges, but there's not a lot to choose between them quality-wise.
Buying this album shouldn't take precedence over Too low for zero or Elton's classic albums of the early to mid-seventies. Nevertheless, every self-respecting committed Elton John fan should buy this album eventually.
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