Too Low for Zero

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Too Low for Zero
Too low for zero.JPG
Studio album by Elton John
Released 30 May 1983
Recorded September 1982 – January 1983 at Montserrat
Genre Rock, pop rock, new wave
Length 44:06
Label Geffen (US)
Rocket (UK)
Producer Chris Thomas
Elton John chronology
Jump Up!
Too Low for Zero
Breaking Hearts
Singles from Too Low for Zero
  1. "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues"
    Released: April 1983
  2. "I'm Still Standing"
    Released: 3 July 1983
  3. "Kiss the Bride"
    Released: 1983
  4. "Cold as Christmas (In the Middle of the Year)"/"Crystal"
    Released: 1983
  5. "Too Low for Zero"
    Released: 1984
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[2]

Too Low for Zero, released in 1983, is the seventeenth official album release for Elton John. It is his most critically acclaimed album of the 1980s, earning Platinum certification by the RIAA. It produced several huge international singles, each accompanied by successful MTV music videos, and it spent over a year on the Billboard album chart.


For the first time since 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 and Davey Johnstone as well as Ray Cooper, Kiki Dee and Skaila Kanga (who played harp on John's self-titled album and Tumbleweed Connection).


The album was produced by Chris Thomas and recorded at AIR Studios in 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 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.[citation needed]

The album was written and recorded in approximately two weeks, with overdubs completed in a week.[citation needed]


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]

Track listing[edit]

All music composed by Elton John, except where noted; all lyrics written by Bernie Taupin.

Side one[edit]

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

Side two[edit]

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

Bonus tracks (1998 Mercury reissue)[edit]

  1. "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.
  2. "Dreamboat" – 7:34
    • B-side also recorded in 1978. Music by Elton John and Tim Renwick. Lyrics by Gary Osborne though not credited.
  3. "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.


On bonus tracks[edit]

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



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[3] 6× Platinum 420,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[4] Platinum 100,000^
France (SNEP)[5] Gold 318,600[6]
Germany (BVMI)[7] Gold 250,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[8] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[9] Platinum 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone



  1. ^ "Too Low for Zero". Allmusic. Retrieved 7 January 2012. 
  2. ^ Rolling Stone Review at the Wayback Machine (archived November 4, 2007)
  3. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1989 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. 
  4. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Elton John – Too Low for Zero". Music Canada. 
  5. ^ "French album certifications – Elton John – Too Low for Zero" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. 
  6. ^ "Les Albums Or". SNEP. Retrieved 2011-09-18. 
  7. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Elton John; 'Too Low for Zero')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  8. ^ "British album certifications – Elton John – Too Low for Zero". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Too Low for Zero in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
  9. ^ "American album certifications – Elton John – Too Low for Zero". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
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  11. ^ Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 2011-10-29
  12. ^ " Elton John – Too Low for Zero" (ASP). Hung Medien (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved 2011-10-29. 
  13. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste" (PHP) (in French). Retrieved 2011-09-18. 
  14. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9. 
  15. ^ " Elton John – Too Low for Zero" (ASP). Hung Medien. Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 2011-10-29. 
  16. ^ " Elton John – Too Low for Zero" (ASP). Hung Medien. VG-lista. Retrieved 2011-10-29. 
  17. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  18. ^ " Elton John – Too Low for Zero" (ASP) (in Swedish). Retrieved 2011-10-29. 
  19. ^ "Elton John – Too Low for Zero –" (ASP). Hung Medien (in German). Swiss Music Charts. Retrieved 2011-10-29. 
  20. ^ "Chart Stats – Elton John – Too Low for Zero" (PHP). UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 2011-10-29. 
  21. ^ "allmusic ((( Too Low for Zero > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". Retrieved 2011-10-29. 
  22. ^ "Album Search: Elton John – Too Low for Zero" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 2011-10-29. 
  23. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1989". RPM. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
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  25. ^ a b "Complete UK Year-End Album Charts". Retrieved 2011-10-29.