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Too Low for Zero (stylized as 2 ↓ 4 0), released in 1983, is the seventeenth official album release for Elton John. The album marked a comeback for John, whose previous four albums had failed to yield many enduring international hit singles, and had disappointing sales compared to his string of hit records released during the first half of the 1970s. It is his best selling album of the 1980s, earning Platinum certification
Platinum certification
by the RIAA. It produced several hit songs, each accompanied by successful MTV
MTV
music videos, and it spent over a year on the Billboard album chart.

Contents

1 Background 2 Production 3 Releases 4 Reception 5 Track listing

5.1 Side one 5.2 Side two 5.3 Bonus tracks (1998 Mercury reissue)

6 Personnel

6.1 On bonus tracks

7 Credits 8 Certifications 9 Charts

9.1 Weekly charts 9.2 Year-end charts 9.3 Decade-end charts

10 References

Background[edit] For the first time since Blue Moves
Blue Moves
in 1976, all lyrics were written by Bernie Taupin. At the insistence of Taupin, John decided to go back to basics and returned to working with Taupin full-time.[citation needed] John also reunited with the core of his backing band of the early '70s: Dee Murray, Nigel Olsson
Nigel Olsson
and Davey Johnstone
Davey Johnstone
as well as Ray Cooper, Kiki Dee
Kiki Dee
and Skaila Kanga (who played harp on John's self-titled album and Tumbleweed Connection). Production[edit] The album was produced by Chris Thomas and recorded at AIR Studios
AIR Studios
in Montserrat
Montserrat
(the same studio for Jump Up!) and Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood. For the first time since A Single Man, John played synthesizers in addition to piano, since James Newton Howard
James Newton Howard
left the band. John felt that synths allowed him to write better fast rock songs, having not been entirely happy with such compositions performed on piano.[1] The album was written and recorded in approximately two weeks, with overdubs completed in a week.[2] Releases[edit] The original LP issue of the album featured a die-cut cover with a special inner sleeve. The four shapes shown on the cover were cut out, with the colours (shown as ink smears on the inner sleeve) showing through the holes. No CD release has duplicated these die-cuts. All B-sides released on US singles from this time originate from his 1978 album A Single Man and the 21 at 33 sessions from 1980.[citation needed] They were also previously released on European singles.[citation needed] In the US, Too Low for Zero was certified gold in January 1984 and platinum in October 1995 by the RIAA.[citation needed] Reception[edit]

Professional ratings

Review scores

Source Rating

AllMusic [3]

Rolling Stone [4]

Reviewing the album in Rolling Stone, Don Shewey commented, "Elton John and Bernie Taupin
Bernie Taupin
have written some great hit singles, but since the early Elton John
Elton John
LP, they have never produced an album of consistently first-rate material. And although Too Low for Zero is a big step up from losers like Blue Moves
Blue Moves
and A Single Man, it doesn't hang together, either." He praised the catchy energy of "I'm Still Standing", "Kiss the Bride", "Crystal", and "Too Low for Zero", and approved of the way those four songs synthesized stylistics from popular artists such as The Pointer Sisters
The Pointer Sisters
and Joe Jackson. However, he felt the rest of the album suffered from poor lyrics, finding the morbidity of "Cold as Christmas" and "One More Arrow" to be especially distasteful.[4] Track listing[edit] All music composed by Elton John, except where noted; all lyrics written by Bernie Taupin. Side one[edit]

"Cold as Christmas (In the Middle of the Year)" – 4:19 "I'm Still Standing" – 3:02 "Too Low for Zero" – 5:46 "Religion" – 4:05 "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" (Music: John, Davey Johnstone) – 4:41

Side two[edit]

"Crystal" – 5:05 "Kiss the Bride" – 4:22 "Whipping Boy" – 3:43 "Saint" – 5:17 "One More Arrow" – 3:34

Bonus tracks (1998 Mercury reissue)[edit]

"Earn While You Learn" (Lord Choc Ice (John)) – 6:46

B-side of "I'm Still Standing" recorded in 1978 and withdrawn as a 12" picture disc-single.

"Dreamboat" – 7:34

B-side also recorded in 1978. Music by Elton John
Elton John
and Tim Renwick. Lyrics by Gary Osborne though not credited.

"The Retreat" – 4:46 (John, Taupin)

UK B-side from 1982 "Princess". Recorded in 1979 August during the sessions for 21 at 33.

Song Format

"Choc Ice Goes Mental" "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" 7" (UK)/"Kiss the Bride" 7" (US)

"The Retreat" "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" 7" (US)

"Love So Cold" "I'm Still Standing" 7" (US)

"Earn While You Learn" "I'm Still Standing" 7"/12" (UK)

"Dreamboat" "Kiss the Bride" 7" (Edited version)/12" (Full version) (UK)

"I'm Still Standing" (extended version) "I'm Still Standing" 12" (UK)

"Je Veux De La Tendresse" (French version of "Nobody Wins") "Cold as Christmas"/"Crystal" 12" (UK)

"Lonely Boy" "Too Low for Zero" 7" (Europe)

Though Chris Thomas was the album's original producer, Gus Dudgeon supervised the remastering for the 1998 Geffen re-release.

Personnel[edit]

Elton John
Elton John
– acoustic piano (tracks 1-5, 8, 10), Fender Rhodes (Track 1), synthesizers (Tracks 1-7, 9) Yamaha
Yamaha
electric piano (Track 9), lead and backing vocals Davey Johnstone
Davey Johnstone
– acoustic guitar (Tracks 1, 4, 5, 6, 9), electric guitar (Tracks 2-10) backing vocals Dee Murray
Dee Murray
– bass guitar, backing vocals Nigel Olsson
Nigel Olsson
– drums, backing vocals Ray Cooper
Ray Cooper
– percussion on "Cold as Christmas (In the Middle of the Year)" Skaila Kanga – harp on "Cold as Christmas (In the Middle of the Year)" Kiki Dee
Kiki Dee
– backing vocals on "Cold as Christmas (In the Middle of the Year)" Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
– harmonica on "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" James Newton Howard
James Newton Howard
– string arrangements on "One More Arrow"

On bonus tracks[edit]

Produced by Elton John
Elton John
and Clive Franks Elton John
Elton John
– piano on "Earn While You Learn" and "The Retreat", organ on "Earn While You Learn" and "Dreamboat", electric piano on "Dreamboat", mellotron on "Earn While You Learn", vocals on "Dreamboat and "The Retreat" Tim Renwick
Tim Renwick
– guitars on "Earn While You Learn" and "Dreamboat" Steve Holley
Steve Holley
– drums on "Earn While You Learn" and "Dreamboat" Clive Franks – bass guitar on "Earn While You Learn" and "Dreamboat" Ray Cooper
Ray Cooper
– tambourine on "Earn While You Learn" and "Dreamboat", triangle on "Earn While You Learn" Paul Buckmaster – orchestra arrangement on "Dreamboat" Steve Lukather
Steve Lukather
– guitar on "The Retreat" Reggie McBride – bass guitar on "The Retreat" Alvin Taylor – drums on "The Retreat" David Paich
David Paich
– organ on "The Retreat" James Newton-Howard – synthesizers on "The Retreat"

Credits[edit]

Produced by Chris Thomas Recorded and Mixed by Bill Price Mixed at AIR Studios
AIR Studios
London Mastered by Chris Thomas (UK) and Greg Fulginiti (US). Management: John Reid Art Direction: Rod Dyer Design: Clive Piercy

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales

Australia (ARIA)[5] 6× Platinum 420,000^

Canada (Music Canada)[6] Platinum 100,000^

France (SNEP)[7] Gold 318,600[8]

Germany (BVMI)[9] Gold 250,000^

United Kingdom (BPI)[10] Platinum 300,000^

United States (RIAA)[11] Platinum 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Charts[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1983/84) Peak position

Australian Kent Music Report
Kent Music Report
Albums Chart[12] 2

Canadian RPM Albums Chart[13] 17

Dutch Mega Albums Chart[14] 28

French SNEP Albums Chart[15] 11

Japanese Oricon
Oricon
Albums Chart[16] 71

New Zealand Albums Chart[17] 2

Norwegian VG-lista Albums Chart[18] 6

Spanish Albums Chart[19] 7

Swedish Albums Chart[20] 30

Swiss Albums Chart[21] 6

UK Albums Chart[22] 7

US Billboard 200[23] 25

West German Media Control Albums Chart[24] 5

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1983) Position

Australian Albums Chart[12] 3

Canadian Albums Chart[25] 79

French Albums Chart[26] 11

UK Albums Chart[27] 16

Chart (1984) Position

Australian Albums Chart[12] 8

UK Albums Chart[27] 74

Decade-end charts[edit]

Chart (1980–89) Position

Australian Albums Chart[12] 7

References[edit]

^ The Other Side of the Tracks (documentary) ^ 1984/01 Interview with Paul Gambaccini, Retrieved 5 July 2017 ^ "Too Low for Zero". Allmusic. Retrieved 7 January 2012.  ^ a b Shewey, Don (June 9, 1983). "Too Low for Zero". Rolling Stone (397): 57. Archived from the original on 4 November 2007.  ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1989 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association.  ^ "Canadian album certifications – Elton John
Elton John
– Too Low for Zero". Music Canada.  ^ "French album certifications – Elton John
Elton John
– Too Low for Zero" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique.  ^ "Les Albums Or". infodisc.fr. SNEP. Archived from the original on 18 October 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-18.  ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Elton John; 'Too Low for Zero')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.  ^ "British album certifications – Elton John
Elton John
– Too Low for Zero". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Too Low for Zero in the search field and then press Enter. ^ "American album certifications – Elton John
Elton John
– Too Low for Zero". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH ^ a b c d Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book
Book
1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.  ^ Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 2011-10-29 ^ "dutchcharts.nl Elton John
Elton John
– Too Low for Zero" (ASP). Hung Medien (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved 2011-10-29.  ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste" (in French). infodisc.fr. Archived from the original (PHP) on 10 September 2013. Retrieved 2011-09-18.  ^ Oricon
Oricon
Album
Album
Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon
Oricon
Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.  ^ "charts.org.nz Elton John
Elton John
– Too Low for Zero" (ASP). Hung Medien. Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 2011-10-29.  ^ "norwegiancharts.com Elton John
Elton John
– Too Low for Zero" (ASP). Hung Medien. VG-lista. Retrieved 2011-10-29.  ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.  ^ "swedishcharts.com Elton John
Elton John
– Too Low for Zero" (ASP) (in Swedish). Retrieved 2011-10-29.  ^ " Elton John
Elton John
Too Low for Zero – hitparade.ch" (ASP). Hung Medien (in German). Swiss Music Charts. Retrieved 2011-10-29.  ^ "Chart Stats – Elton John
Elton John
– Too Low for Zero" (PHP). UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 2011-10-29.  ^ "allmusic ((( Too Low for Zero > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-10-29.  ^ " Album
Album
Search: Elton John
Elton John
– Too Low for Zero" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 2011-10-29.  ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1989". RPM. Retrieved 2011-10-03.  ^ "Les Albums (CD) de 1983 par InfoDisc" (in French). infodisc.fr. Archived from the original (PHP) on 11 July 2013. Retrieved 2012-01-29.  ^ a b "Complete UK Year-End Album
Album
Charts". Archived from the original on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 2011-10-29. 

v t e

Elton John

Discography Albums Singles Videography Awards

Studio albums

Empty Sky Elton John Tumbleweed Connection Madman Across the Water Honky Château Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Caribou Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy Rock of the Westies Blue Moves A Single Man Victim of Love 21 at 33 The Fox Jump Up! Too Low for Zero Breaking Hearts Ice on Fire Leather Jackets Reg Strikes Back Sleeping with the Past The One Duets Made in England The Big Picture Songs from the West Coast Peachtree Road The Captain & the Kid The Union The Diving Board Wonderful Crazy Night

Live albums

17-11-70 Here and There Live in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Elton John
Elton John
One Night Only – The Greatest Hits Elton 60 – Live at Madison Square Garden

Soundtrack albums

Friends The Lion King The Muse Elton John
Elton John
and Tim Rice's Aida The Road to El Dorado Gnomeo & Juliet

Compilation albums

Greatest Hits Greatest Hits Volume II The Thom Bell Sessions Lady Samantha Greatest Hits Vol. 3 The Complete Thom Bell Sessions To Be Continued The Very Best of Elton John Rare Masters Greatest Hits 1976–1986 The Superior Sound of Elton John Chartbusters Go Pop Classic Elton John Love Songs Prologue Greatest Hits 1970–2002 Elton John's Christmas Party Rocket Man: The Definitive Hits Diamonds

Other albums

Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John
Elton John
& Bernie Taupin Good Morning to the Night Revamp & Restoration

Video albums

The Afternoon Concert The Night Time Concert Night and Day Concert Live in Australia The Very Best of Elton John Live in Barcelona Love Songs Elton John
Elton John
One Night Only – The Greatest Hits Dream Ticket Elton 60 – Live at Madison Square Garden The Red Piano

Concert tours

1970 World Tour West of the Rockies Tour Louder Than Concorde Tour 1980 World Tour Jump Up Tour Too Low for Zero Tour European Express Tour Breaking Hearts Tour Ice on Fire
Ice on Fire
Tour Tour De Force Reg Strikes Back
Reg Strikes Back
Tour Sleeping with the Past Tour The One Tour Face to Face 1994 Face to Face 1995 Made in England Tour Big Picture Tour Face to Face 1998 An Evening with Elton John Medusa Tour Stately Home Tour Face to Face 2001 Songs from the West Coast Tour Face to Face 2002 A Journey Through Time 2003 Tour Face to Face 2003 2004 Tour Peachtree Road Tour 2006 European Tour The Captain and the Kid Tour Rocket Man: Greatest Hits Live Face to Face 2009 Face to Face 2010 2010 European Tour Greatest Hits Tour 40th Anniversary of the Rocket Man The Diving Board
The Diving Board
Tour Follow the Yellow Brick Road Tour All the Hits Tour The Final Curtain Tour Wonderful Crazy Night
Wonderful Crazy Night
Tour Farewell Yellow Brick Road

Concert residencies

The Red Piano The Million Dollar Piano

Miscellaneous performances

List of Elton John
Elton John
and Ray Cooper
Ray Cooper
concert tours The Union Tour

Musicals

The Lion King

animated live-action musical

Billy Elliot the Musical Aida Lestat The Devil Wears Prada

Related articles

Bernie Taupin Gus Dudgeon Paul Buckmaster John Reid Dick James David Furnish Kiki Dee Elton John
Elton John
AIDS Foundation Watford F.C. Bluesology Hookfoot Woodside, Old Windsor The Union Elton John: Me, Myself & I Elton John: Tantrums & Tiaras Elton John: The Classic Years

Bo

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