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Elton John - Breaking Hearts  (1984)

Breaking Hearts appare come il logico proseguimento del precedente Too Low For Zero, che aveva riscosso un buon successo sia di critica che di pubblico.   Il risultato č buono anche se non a livello dell'album dell'anno prima, ma riesce persino ad arrivare al n° 2 delle classifiche inglesi.

Elton John


1) Restless
2) Slow Down Georgie (She's Poison)
3) Who Wears These Shoes
4) Breaking Hearts (Ain't What It Used To Be)
5) Li'l 'Frigerator
6) Passengers
7) In Neon
8) Burning Buildings
9) Did He Shoot Her
10) Sad Songs (Say So Much)

Stati Uniti:  20° posto
Inghilterra:  2° posto
Italia:  --  posto

da Stereoplay n° 131 - aprile 1985

Greetings, fellow Rowers... can't believe it's been four albums already, but this review brings us to the end of the remaster reviews... at least until more arrive. I'm sure we'll all be chiming in on the re-release (yet again) of "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" during the fall, but for now this will have to do! So, without further delay, you've waited long enough for it and after apologizing for the delay I'll get right to "Breaking Hearts". By the time he got around to recording "Breaking Hearts", Elton John had firmly re-established himself as a force in the music business and on the record charts. His singles were performing well overall, with several top-40 and top-10 hits in numerous record charts around the globe and particularly in the US and the UK. His record sales were strong... beginning with "The Fox" and "Jump Up!" and accelerating further with the world-wide smash "Too Low For Zero", gold and platinum awards were once again becoming commonplace for Elton's albums. Elton and the band's concerts were selling out around the world and he had successfully made the transition from radio star to video star with a couple of strong music videos, not the least of which was the lavish, colorful and campy tour de force "I'm Still Standing". Taking a short break from touring, Elton and company owed Geffen a followup to the best-selling "Too Low For Zero" and decided that since the formula of John-Taupin compostions + Dee/Davey/Nigel + Chris Thomas = hit records worked so well on the last album, they would use it once again. recorded principally at Air Monserrat and released in the summer of 1984, "Breaking Hearts" was the kick-start to a very busy time for Elton John. Coming off a fairly extensive world-wide trek for "Jump Up!" and "Too Low For Zero", the band was taking a rest before what looked to be one of their biggest tours to that point. But before the concerts would come the recording. Based on the speed and precision that "Breaking Hearts" was assembled, it seems the album came together easily. Elton and Bernie were generating songs as they once did back in the seventies, the remote island studio gave everyone a chance to unwind while they recorded and the renewed energy was captured in what would prove to be some very spirited recordings. "Breaking Hearts" took the consolidation of personnel that had begun on "Jump Up!" and continued on "Too Low For Zero" even further, with all tracks written by Elton and Bernie except "Passengers", which in addition to Elton and Bernie also had contributions by Davey Johnstone and Phineas McHize, of whom little is know... perhaps a nom de plume as suggested by John Tobler in his liner notes, or perhaps a writer who composed a part of the song on which the final track was based. Also, only Elton and the band appear on all tracks, except for one lone guest appearance by Australian session sax player Andrew Thompson, who blew a scorching alto lead on "Lil Refrigerator". The only other major change was in the engineers. Bill Price stayed home on this one and Chris Thomas instead chose to work with Renate Blauel, a German-born engineer, who assisted on "Two Low For Zero". As history will note, Elton began a relationship with Renate during the sessions for "Too Low..." and the two were married on Valentine's Day of the following year. "Breaking Hearts" is an interesting album, and though not necessarily a fan favorite, it's still a very good album and historically important to the Elton John timeline. For one thing, it performed well with the album scoring a very respectable Top 20 finish in the US and stunning #2 position in the UK, not to mention the FIVE singles that came from the record. It also marks Elton's formal "debut" on keyboards other than piano, harmonium, mellotron and harpsichord - that being the new staple of pop music bands during the 80's known as "the synthesizer". Indeed, electronic keyboards and the advent of MIDI technology really took off during the mid-eighties, with Kurzweil, Synclavier, Roland and Yamaha all competing for customers in various price ranges. Perhaps the best known keyboard of this time has to be the Yamaha DX-7, which was (and still is) widely used by any number of touring bands. The synthesizer had appeared on Elton records before, with early versions of the Arp synth appearing on the "Elton John" album as early as 1970, but Elton himself hadn't really played them all that much, if at all, over the years, preferring to assign those chores to other players, such as Ken Scott, Dave Hentschel or James Newton  Howard. "Breaking Hearts" finds less of Elton on piano on most of the tracks, though his keyboard parts are all over the album in one form or another. Yamaha is credited as supplying the synthesizers for "Breaking Hearts". For this remaster, once again the pattern is generally the same, though I must say that the packaging for "Breaking Hearts" is possibly the most consistent of the five discs, with original artwork reproduced faithfully, including additional photographs all from the "Breaking Hearts" period. While there is no Elton signature, single sleeve artwork is once again included as are complete lyrics and credits, and shots of Bernie and the band members, who were left off the US issue of the original CD release. Gary Moore's mastering is impressive again here. The original masters of "Breaking Hearts", at least the ones used for the first CD transfers, were very noisy and lacked not only dynamic range but clarity. While this version doesn't improve the dynamics dramatically, this is more than acceptable in light of how much noise has been removed and clarity had been improved. I would have been happy with a less noisy master, but it's amazing the things you can now hear and better appreciate with Moore's sonic refinements. Musically, "Breaking Hearts" could very well be the album that "Caribou" aspires to. We all think of "Caribou" fondly through the perspective of time and distance, but when one places it in context between "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Captain Fantastic", it's actually a musical mess. Gus Dudgeon's post-production work salvaged the record and pulled together the tracks in a sequence that works, but it's a terribly unfocused piece of work when you consider it in detail. "Breaking Hearts", while not a masterpiece by any stretch, had the disadvantage of coming after "Too Low For Zero", but made the most of its limitations and couple with Chris Thomas' production actually is a fairly focused and cohesive collection of tunes. There are the obvious rockers, "Restless" and "Lil Refrigerator" which while not on the par of say "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting" are improvements on even something like "Whipping Boy".  There are also the the obvious singles in "Who Wears These Shoes" and "Sad Songs Say So Much", both of whom are catchy, danceable and in the case of "Sad Songs..." instantly memorable. One of my favorites on the disc is "Did He Shoot Her?", a psedo dance track that features a growling Davey guitar solo and intermixed with his sitar layered against Elton's keyboards. There are of course the obvious ballads in "In Neon" and "Breaking Hearts". Bernie made his directorial debut on the video for "In Neon" and it's certainly my hope he does more directing, as this piece of film was quite good and tells the song's story in pictures very well. That point notwithstanding, these two tracks are every bit as good as any John-Taupin ballad and illustrate why Elton and Bernie are among the very best at the genre. These two tracks also let Elton step out from behind the sythesizer and lay down some real piano, which reminds us quickly that he's not left behind his true instrument and certainly that he's not forgotten how to play it! There are the "filler" tracks, like "Burning Bridges" and "Slow Down Georgie", which are really deserving of a better title as they stand up very well for themselves and help chain the rest of the songs together... far above the level of most filler on most albums by lesser artists. And few Elton albums would be complete without one or two excursions off the beaten path in a track such as "Passengers", an ecclectic little number about apartheid and segregation in Africa and Australia that percolates along nicely to Nigel's drums and Davey's myriad of acoustic guitars and Elton's melodic and recurring keyboard riff. Special mention should be made of Dee and Nigel, who can both be heard prominently across the entire record and prove again how brilliant they played together. Regrettably, in another sadder milestone, "Breaking Hearts" marks the last time on record that they would supply rhythm section along side Elton and Davey. Thankfully, the "choir of three" reunited once again to supply vocals on "Reg Strikes Back", but personally I know we all wished there had been more albums with Dee on bass and Nigel on drums. Nigel has recently returned to work with Elton, but sadly Dee lost his battle with cancer in 1991 and a full-scale reunion is out of the question. After "Breaking Hearts", Elton's personal life was in turmoil and his recording and tourning tended to mirror that in many ways. Elton once again changed the band and would go through a few different lineups. In many ways, "Breaking Hearts" marks the end of an era. It isn't a stellar work, but it is a solid album and if you're looking for a single body of work that truly bottles the essence of what Elton and Bernie are capable of in a pure pop setting, you need look no further than this collection of fine songs performed by one of the best all around bands rock music ever produced.

Andy Geisel - 22nd Row 2003

da All Music Guide

Building off of the success of his previous long player Too Low For Zero (1983), Elton John (piano/vocals) retained his 'classic quartet' for the follow-up Breaking Hearts (1984). After an eight year ('75 -- '83) hiatus Dee Murray (bass/backing vocals), Davey Johnstone (guitar/backing vocals) and Nigel Olsson (drums/backing vocals) briefly reunited with John and Bernie Taupin (lyrics) to attempt a musical resurrection of their early-to-mid '70s sound. Without question this is one of John's most consistent efforts during his half decade on Geffen Records ('81 -- '86). However the shift in pop music styles since 1975 as well as lack of edgy material, seemed to stifle the band's return to full form circa Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (GYBR) (1973) or Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975). Breaking Hearts was not light on hits either, yielding "Who Wears These Shoes" as well as the Top 5 smash "Sad Songs (Say So Much)"." The oft over looked "L'il 'Frigerator" is a high octane rocker that could be considered a post script to "Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock 'n' Roll)" from GYBR. The opening cut "Restless" is also one of the spunkier tracks and came off particularly well when John hit the road with his formidable sidemen to support the disc. The vast majority of Breaking Hearts however, is met with varying degrees of success. Both "In Neon" and the reggae-dub influenced "Passengers" were best suited to the lighter pop genre and Adult Contemporary radio format where John joined the ranks of Phil Collins, Lionel Ritchie and George Michael. This stylistic direction, while concurrently popular, also criminally under-utilised the synergy between the artist and band. With the exception of the noir 'unplugged' title performance "Breaking Hearts (Ain't What It Used To Be)" a majority of the LP is indistinguishable from much of the rest of his mid '80s and early '90s catalogue.

Lindsay Planer All Music Guide


anno/label 1984 - ROCKET in UK, GEFFEN in USA 
produzione Chris Thomas
arrangiamenti orchestrali
studio Air Studios, Montserrat 
musicisti Nigel Olsson: batteria e cori; Dee Murray: basso e cori; Davey Johnstone: chitarre e cori; Kiki Dee: cori; Ray Cooper: percussioni; Elton: piano
note buon album, non apprezzato particolarmente dalla critica e dal pubblico, anche se il singolo Sad Songs ha avuto un discreto successo.
come stile č il proseguimento logico di Too Low For Zero

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