Too Low for Zero is the seventeenth studio album by British singer/songwriter Elton John, released in 1983.


 [hide*1 Production


For the first time since Blue Moves in 1976, all lyrics were written by Bernie Taupin, who has continued in this role to the present day. At the insistence of Taupin, John decided to go back to basics and returned to working with Taupin full-time. John also reunited with the core of his backing band of the early '70s:Dee MurrayNigel Olsson and Davey Johnstone as well as Ray CooperKiki Dee and Skaila Kanga (who played harp on John's self-titled album andTumbleweed Connection) – two other musicians were intended to join the line-up, but dropped out.

The album was produced by Chris Thomas and recorded at AIR Studios in Montserrat (the same studio for Jump Up!) and Sunset Sound Recorders inHollywood.

For the first time since A Single Man, John played synthesisers 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.

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


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 to date 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. They were also previously released on European singles. In the US, it was certified gold in January 1984 and platinum in October 1995 by the RIAA.

Track listing[edit]Edit

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

Side one[edit]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]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]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    • B-side of "I'm Still Standing" recorded in 1978 and withdrawn as a 12" picture disc-single.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 recorded during the sessions for The Fox.
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]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 Paich – organ on "The Retreat"
  • James Newton-Howard – synthesizers on "The Retreat"



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

^shipments figures based on certification alone xunspecified figures based on certification alone


Chart positions[edit]Edit

Chart (1983/84) Peak position
Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart[9] 2
Canadian RPM Albums Chart[10] 17
Dutch Mega Albums Chart[11] 28
French SNEP Albums Chart[12] 11
Japanese Oricon Albums Chart[13] 71
New Zealand Albums Chart[14] 2
Norwegian VG-lista Albums Chart[15] 6
Spanish Albums Chart[16] 7
Swedish Albums Chart[17] 30
Swiss Albums Chart[18] 6
UK Albums Chart[19] 7
US Billboard 200[20] 25
West German Media Control Albums Chart[21] 5

Year-end charts[edit]Edit

Chart (1983) Position
Australian Albums Chart[9] 3
Canadian Albums Chart[22] 79
French Albums Chart[23] 11
UK Albums Chart[24] 16
Chart (1984) Position
Australian Albums Chart[9] 8
UK Albums Chart[24] 74

Decade-end charts[edit]Edit

Chart (1980–89) Position
Australian Albums Chart[9] 7
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