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album I album secondari

Elton John - Jump Up!  (1982)

Jump Up! è sicuramente un album minore nella discografia di Elton, nonostante il buon successo del singolo Blue Eyes.   Registrato nell'isola caraibica di Montserrat offre un'ottima band, con Jeff Porcaro alla batteria, Dee Murray al basso, Richie Zito alle chitarre e James Newton Howard alle tastiere, che fornisce un sound fresco a pezzi non proprio memorabili.  Dopo tutti questi anni viene ricordato soprattutto per Empty Garden, dedicata allo scomparso John Lennon.


1) Dear John
2) Spiteful Child
3) Ball And Chain
4) Legal Boys
5) I Am Your Robot
6) Blue Eyes
7) Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)
8) Princess
9) Where Have All The Good Times Gone
10) All Quiet On The Western Front

Stati Uniti:    17° posto
Inghilterra:    13° posto
Italia:    --° posto

Once again, fellow Rower's we meet around the 22nd Row campfire and exchange stories! This edition, we'll examine (objectively, as always) a fan-favorite: "JUMP UP!"  Elton John released much product during the 1980's and at least a few of his album releases from this period can be considered classics. First off, there's the unqualified smash hit "Live in Australia", the masterful concept album "Sleeping With The Past", and of course the evergreen pop perfection of "Reg Strikes Back". All of these have been remastered and reissued. However, at least one more record Elton put out in the early part of the decade can easily be added to that list. Released in April 1982, "Jump Up!" was Elton's second album for Geffen, his new label in the United States. It was also his first really focused record of the new decade. Recorded almost entirely at Air Montserrat, it was his first produced entirely by Chris Thomas. Like Elton's most recent records around this time, several lyricists are represented on the album. Bernie Taupin and Gary Osborne both contributed lyrics, and a newcomer to the fold made his first appearance in the form of Broadway veteran Tim Rice, whose collaboration with Elton on the intricate and interesting "Legal Boys" would culminate (as John Tobler points out in his liner notes) with an Oscar for "Can You Feel The Love Tonight?" some twelve or so years later. However, that's where the similarities end. Gone are the album sleeves that find Elton in hiding or not to be seen at all, as well as the sedate designs. Elton is front and center on the cover and back cover and the artwork is playful and gregarious to say the least! Gone too is the wide assortment of musicians. For "Jump Up!", Elton and Chris Thomas chose to use a studio band, but the same musicians appear on all the tracks. Though there are guest appearances, very few supporting players contributed to the album. The core band, again minus Davey Johnstone who would be absent from an Elton album just one last time, was made up of very strong players who had all previously served as studio sidemen for Elton. Laying down his very distintive bass was Dee Murray. On fire behind the drums was Jeff Porcaro who was on loan from Toto, one of Elton's favorite bands of the day. Ritchie Zito again handled most of the guitars, turning in some of his best work on this album, and keyboard ace James Newton Howard supplied a myriad of additional keyboard parts and leads as well as string arrangements. Guests included Steve Holly on tambourine, who had played on "A Single Man" and was also a member of Wings, and making his SECOND appearance with Elton was Pete Townsend kicking in acoustic guitar on "Ball and Chain". Pete had previously played additional guitars on "Pinball Wizard" in 1974, though he would not claim credit for it on the "Tommy" soundtrack album. He and Elton had been and still remain very good friends. And The Martyn Ford Orchestra (credited humorously as "Mountain Fjord") make another invaluable contribution to an Elton John album. Backing vocals were all done either by Elton himself or along with Dee and Gary Osborne. As Rolling Stone commented in their original review, the album showed Elton as a "rare master of pop form" and noted that he was "feeling frisky". One listen will tell you that this was exactly what Elton intended the album to convey. From the rapid-fire open of "Dear John" to the majestic closing of "All Quiet On The Western Front", Elton was indeed feeling frisky, as evidenced by a strong lineup of songs executed with equally strong performances by Elton and the band, and captured in one of the richest and most exciting mixes ever to come out of a Chris Thomas album. All the numbers are well crafted, even "I Am Your Robot", which in my opinion is the weakest track on the album and yet a driving danceable track slathered in guitars and synthesizers coupled with Elton's cheeky delivery of cheeky "space age" lyric references, it's so cheeky it's good! As with nearly all Elton albums, there are some excellent singles, one of which is the John/Taupin classic "Empty Garden (Hey, Hey Johnnie)", a beautifully written and played tribute to John Lennon that not only stands as the best of those written about him but to this day still brings a tear to your eye, it's that good. (Rumor has it that Elton himself was so moved upon hearing the playback that he cried.) The other single that is a more likely candidate for the Top 40 is "Blue Eyes", a simple, lovely Gary Osborne's lyric that features a breezy arrangement and a silky-smooth, lower-register delivery from Elton. (When I first heard it in 1982, it took me a few listens on radio to figure out that it was him before I acquired the album!) Once again, there are no bonus tracks, but the original album lineup flat-out CRANKS! Remastering guru Gary Moore needed to make this mix really jump out of the speakers at you and boy does it ever! The crack of Jeff Porcaro's snare will put bullet holes in your walls. Dee Murray's bass lines thunder off the disc, Elton's flashy piano is crisp and clear and go hand in hand with the guitars, keyboards and strings. The emphasis on enhancing the already big dynamic range can be heard across the board, even on "Blue Eyes", and are especially prevalent on "All Quiet On The Western Front", whose soft intro gives way to a crescendo at the end. "Jump Up!" finds Elton in GREAT form, covering a wide range of the vocal spectrum between leads and backing vocals, and his piano work is razor sharp and prominently placed in the mix across the whole album. He also generates some great solos and all of this is accented by the remastering. Instruments and effects are afforded so much more clarity than the original versions and one can actually hear subtle things in the mixes that previously went unnoticed. Vocals, especially the backing tracks, come through clean and present and the mix interestingly enough sounds like it could have been done only a few years ago instead of the twenty that have passed since the album came out. Audio highlights include "Where Have All The Good Times Gone?" with a pulsing soulful rhythm section and a Gene Page-esque Philly-soul style string arrangement that pays homage to the classic soul singers and groups. "Princess", the pretty pop tune with a beautiful electric piano solo and Elton falsettos that have aged like fine wine. But to be fair, all the songs on the record play well especially cleaned up so well. Original album art is pretty faithfully reproduced here, with the exception of some of the sleeve photographs that for some reason are missing and there are two odd photographs that have been included, one from the 1984 "Breaking Hearts" tour programme and one from an early seventies TV or concert appearance that both are a little out of place since they are not from the original album artwork and are not from this period. No Elton signature this time, but back again are the single sleeves and a shot of the "Jump Up!" tour poster, this one being the legs that included Geffen label-mates Quarterflash as special guests. The tour is another point of interest. Instead of taking his studio players with him on the road, Elton made a cunningly smart move and reformed the original Elton John Band, retaining only Dee Murray from the album sessions, bringing back Nigel Olsson and hooking up once again with Davey Johnstone, who with the exception of some solo piano tours, has been on the road with Elton ever since. Audiences were stunned to hear that Elton's original bandmates were playing together again and flocked to the shows in droves. The tour sold-out all over the world, setting records in many stops on the way. The shows themselves were nothing short of spectacular, with Elton wearing an all new assortment of costumes and playing with energy and enthusiasm not seen since the mid-seventies. Elton and the band even made an appearance on "Saturday Night Live" as the musical guest of a show hosted by no less than country music legend Johnny Cash! "Jump Up!" and its singles ("Blue Eyes" and "Empty Garden") placed well in the charts both in American and Europe, with US record buyers responding in particular to the album, which improved a great deal over "The Fox", finishing just outside the top 10. Only "All Quiet On The Western Front" didn't fare so well in Europe. Well-written and almost flawlessly executed, "Jump Up!" was an important album and proved to be a great experience for both Elton and fans as well. While perhaps not at the fever pitch of his mid-70's heyday, Elton mania was definitely returning and could be felt across the country and around the world for the first time since those days. The collaborations with Chris Thomas and Taupin were key in that these songs, the resulting performance of the album and the phenomenal success of the tour with the reunited band all helped set the stage for the full-scale reunion to come in 1983's "Too Low For Zero".

 Andy Geisel - 22nd Row 2003


da Rolling Stone del  27 maggio 1982

Jump Up is the album that redeems Elton John from his famine years as a fallen superstar exiled to less verdant pastures. Showing more spunk than anyone might have expected at this late date, he's put himself back on top simply by making a tour de force of a record that says he knows he's worth it. Even if he never again comes close to inciting the mass hysteria of the mid-Seventies, the sheer stylistic breadth of Jump Up should secure Elton John's reputation as a rare master of pop form.

From the muscular lurch of "Dear John" to the Philly-soul stylings of "Princess," Elton is feeling frisky again. Those trademark piano rolls and crisp cadences never sounded so good as on "Spiteful Child," and he's found a new expressiveness in his singing (witness the dramatic, mock-Brechtian reading of "Legal Boys," which redresses the paper chasers with eloquent vehemence). And, for a guest-celebrity change of pace, there's "Ball and Chain," a catchy little tune that rolls along to the inimitable percussive strum of Pete Townshend's acoustic guitar.

Lyric-writing duties are divided between Gary Osborne and Bernie Taupin. The former seems to coax a more effervescent melody from John, while the latter plumbs for emotional intensity – be it vengeance ("Spiteful Child") or sentimentality ("Empty Garden," a heartfelt paean to John Lennon).

Elton John just might be rock & roll's equivalent of the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. His songs have a kind of mechanical vigor, he's a one-man pop-music assembly line, but the guy's got a heart that won't quit. "I am your robot/I am your robot man," he sings on Jump Up, in a way that suggests he's content with this self-assessment. Yeah, he may be a robot, but he's our robot, all right. God bless him.



da  All Music Guide

Jump Up! (1982) was Elton John's (piano/vocals) first full LP to have been recorded in the 1980s, and is best remembered for including "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)" -- John and lyricist Bernie Taupin's tribute to the their slain friend, John Lennon. While the pair had been writing together again, albeit infrequently, since the late '70s, John continued to include material written with his primary non-Taupin collaborator, Gary Osborne. The latter team had previously scored big with "Little Jeannie" on John's 21 at 33 (1980), and to a lesser degree with the noir ballad "Chloe" from The Fox (1981). However, on Jump Up!, the quality of material dithers from the absurd and inane "I Am Your Robot" -- featuring lead guitar work from Pete Townshend -- or the insipid breakup opener "Dear John" to the sublime beauty of "Blue Eyes" or the cathartic value of the aforementioned "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)." The dramatic "Legal Boys" is an understated masterpiece, marking the first public effort between John and Sir Tim Rice. The pair would garner Tony and Grammy awards 12 years later for their work on the original motion picture soundtrack to the animated feature film The Lion King (1994). John's backing band includes many of the same musicians who contributed to his most recent recordings. Representing the "classic" personnel are Dee Murray (bass) and post-Captain Fantastic (1975) recruit James Newton-Howard (keyboards). Fleshing out the core combo are studio guitarist extraordinaire Richie Zito and Toto drummer (and another highly regarded session heavy) Jeff Porcaro. Steve Holly (drums), who worked with Wings as well as John circa A Single Man (1978), guests on the tracks "Ball & Chain" and "I Am Your Robot." While far from a total washout, Jump Up! would remain tethered in the wake of the follow-up, Too Low for Zero (1983), marking a reunion between John and both his "classic" 1970s combo as well as Taupin.

Lindsay Planer

anno/label 1982 Rocket (UK) - Geffen (USA)
produzione Chris Thomas
arrangiamenti orchestrali James Newton Howard
studio Air Studios, Montserrat - Pathe Marconi Studios, Parigi
musicisti Jeff Porcaro: batteria; Dee Murray: basso, cori; Richie Zito: chitarre; Steve Holley: percussioni, syndrum; James Newton Howard: tastiere; Pete Townshend: chitarra; Gary Osborne: cori; Mountain Fjord Orchestra diretta da Gavin Wright; Elton: piano, cori
note discreta produzione, senza grosse pretese, ben prodotta e ben suonata; Chris Thomas ha una mano più leggera del solito e emerge la batteria del grande Porcaro e le chitarre di Zito.