★精装加值盘额外收录创作曲"Candlelit Bedroom"，以及包括全美抒情榜TOP 14单曲"Home Again"在内的3首录音室现场演唱版
获颁大英帝国爵士勋章，荣膺全英音乐奖杰出音乐贡献奖、葛莱美奖传奇奖、奥斯卡金像奖、金球奖、东尼奖，入列摇滚名人殿堂，拥有2亿5000万张专辑销售，乐坛传奇巨星Elton John并不以这些成就自满，在2013年藉著与另类摇滚团Queens Of The Stone Age、流行庞克团Fall Out Boy的合作激发音乐能量；同年岁末，又与同获美国词曲创作名人殿堂贡献奖的搭档Bernie Taupin携手合作歌唱生涯的第30张个人录音室大碟【The Diving Board】，专辑发行首週长驱直入英国金榜第3名。
在【The Diving Board】专辑中，Elton John回归出道时的钢琴、贝斯、鼓创作架构，展现他身为杰出歌曲创作家与世界顶尖钢琴师的风范。专辑中的歌曲再度绽放Elton John与Bernie Taupin的快手创作默契，Bernie宛如电影情节般的歌词彷彿与Elton的键盘乐音灵犀相通，两人在2012年利用3天时间合写出11首歌，然后在5个录音室工作天之内完成歌曲录制，接著又在2013年利用两天录制了另外4首歌曲，效率飞快且成果惊人！本辑重现了Elton John在1970年与管弦乐团以现场伴奏方式灌录同名专辑『Elton John』时的冒险精神，Elton让2010年与谱写过The Carpenters名曲"Superstar"的传奇唱作歌手Leon Russell合作专辑「The Union」的葛莱美奖制作人T-Bone Burnett邀请吉他手Doyle Bramhall（*Eric Clapton）、贝斯手Raphael Saadiq（*John Legend）、键盘手Keefus Ciancia（*Lenka）、鼓手Jay Bellerose（*Diana Krall）等乐手组成伴奏乐团，随后，Elton就以现场伴奏录唱的方式完成专辑录制。专辑的乐风游走於流行、福音、乡村、蓝调之间，有引人入胜的叙事小品"The Ballad Of Blind Tom"，具有自省风格的抒情曲"My Quicksand"，朗朗上口的"Can’t Stay Alone Tonight"，经由电视实境节目风潮深思自己在成名过程中付出代价的动人大作"The Diving Board"。
The Diving Board / 生命跳板 (Deluxe Edition / 加值盘)
艺人名称：Elton John / 艾尔顿强
专辑名称：The Diving Board / 生命跳板 (Deluxe Edition / 加值盘)
Audio CD (September 24, 2013)
Original Release Date: 2013
Number of Discs: 1
Label: Capitol Records (Universal)
At first, Elton John’s The Diving Board seems to suggest a statement of presence, nearly everything but the aging performer’s voice and piano kept to a bare minimum. 31 albums into his career, handfuls of mega-hit singles and platinum albums in the rearview, he’s sitting at the keys, opting for a simple background from which to stand out, rather than get swallowed up in elaborate arrangements. It’s almost inconsequential that Bernie Taupin wrote all of the lyrics, or that T-Bone Burnett ran the sessions; this is all Elton John, all the time. The problem with that Occam’s razor is that John’s voice isn’t quite as flexible as in years past, and that paired near-exclusively with a set number of piano keys makes for an occasionally flat, un-diverse record. But, John is a legend for a reason, capable of pushing the emotions and finding the hook even when the lines begin to blur.
We’ve repeatedly had to face the quandary of a past-prime artist releasing a record over the past few years, and a 31st record here again begs the question of necessity. More Tumbleweed Connection than Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, the album finds John using some of the formulas from his earliest records to produce mature, classically-inflected songs. The spotlight focuses entirely on John on this album, as if he’s switched from a huge Broadway musical to a black-box one man show. While John has offered his unique take throughout his catalog and through the press, The Diving Board would (if you’ll pardon the too-direct linguistic connection) provide the perfect jumping-off point for extremely personal songs.
But, this isn’t a diary record. If these songs are at all connected to John’s personal life or view, the connections are oblique, often to the point of inscrutability. Flamboyant wit and raconteur Oscar Wilde is a subject here, but the dotted lines to the figure behind the mic aren’t connected. Else, the album is full of out and out characters, including auctioneers, war veterans, and tragic ex-pats. These are short stories set to song, rather than the pop songs he’s proven so capable of in the past, but they also lack the personal touch to enliven the subjects.
The inconsequential-seeming involvement of Taupin and Burnett, though, becomes increasingly important after each listen. Elton John shouldn’t be, in fact, alone in the spotlight. Taupin provided these characters, these narratives, to give John the perfect opportunity to emote. Burnett pulled the trigger on the minimal swashes of strings, the gospel choir that pipes up here and there. Both do their work, essentially, to get out of John’s way. The entrancing piano figure of “Oscar Wilde Gets Out” chimes into the subconscious for days, the jaunty “Mexican Vacation (Kids in the Candlelight)” offers a serious shot of adrenaline, and the trio of “Dream” instrumentals provide some of the album’s most captivating moments. His delivery of the somewhat trite lines of “Can’t Stay Alone Tonight”, thick and hearty, compensates perfectly. “You’re the diner in my rearview / A cup of coffee getting cold,” he croons, the line not saying nearly as much about the relationship as the way he sings it.
This 31st studio album won’t be anyone’s favorite Elton John record, or even necessarily a must-listen. The heavy reliance on the piano means that the Southern focus of “The Ballad of Blind Tom” and the Fleet Street narration of “Oscar Wilde Gets Out” don’t wind up sounding all that different. But, John’s vocals and technical playing raise nearly any song at least one rung up the ladder. Rather than recreate the past, the simplicity, the return to the sounds of his early albums, and the thoughtful story-telling reflect the place of a longtime legend keeping things in perspective. The union of John, Taupin, and Burnett stands out by being the best way for John to sound like he’s doing it entirely by himself. But, if he were to take the step further and use these tools to more clearly connect to the content of the songs, the emotional impact could be astounding.
John could put on a show in any arena in the world and sell a ton of tickets, just playing the same hits over and over. Yet here he is trotting out another album, ‘The Diving Board,’ and it’s perplexing. He’s done it all, and he can perform till he keels over onstage, but creating new art? Really, Hercules?
Such is the plight of the aging rock star: still playing to sizable crowds, yet barely making a dent on the charts. Depending on your point of view, that’s either tremendously sad or tremendously liberating.
John sounds liberated on ‘The Diving Board,’ and while it’s always risky to call any major-artist release “their best since [insert title of last comeback album here],” this is one of the Rocket Man’s strongest sets of new music in recent years. At the same time, it lacks even cursory nods to catchy songs; it’s a rewarding if challenging listen.
Ever since John’s wildly successful run of hits from the early ’70s to the early ’90s, casual fans and die-hards alike have wanted some nebulous “return to form,” usually centering around a more piano-driven sound. The truth is, John has been making that kind of music again for more than a decade now — from 2001′s ‘Songs From the West Coast’ through 2010′s ‘The Union’ LP with Leon Russell. They’re organic, acoustic and grounded albums that feature quintessential Elton John songwriting and the lyrics of Bernie Taupin, still a master at a gorgeous turn of phrase, and still obsessed with the Old West and the Old South.
The songs on ‘The Diving Board’ do lead with piano, guitar and drums, with some percussion accents from legendary Motown session man Jack Ashford on tambourine. There’s a notable absence of hooks, which speaks to John’s own understanding of his place in the modern musical universe. No singles to sell means no need to play the pop game, and so these melodies can meander through chord changes that are distinctly John, but also rich and unexpected. That makes it easy to compare this record to his earliest work, before he became an unprecedented hit machine. Fans will know the shift well, from musical tone poems on ‘Tumbleweed Connection’ and ‘Madman Across the Water’ to a campier, catchier sound on ‘Honky Chateau’ and ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.’
‘The Diving Board’ echoes that earlier John, but it echoes an earlier era in rock as well, when the lofty title of “singer-songwriter” bestowed upon the artist a greater degree of latitude than the more hit-oriented acts on the scene. It was up to the fans to meet the artist at whatever level they chose to make their grand statements. Those old John records were great, but they also required work to absorb. Similarly, ‘The Diving Board’ is not an easy record to grasp. The first few listens offer precious few of those magical hooks; it expects the listener to spend the time necessary to fully realize its pleasures.
Songs like ‘My Quicksand’ and ‘Oceans Away’ frame the mistakes of impulsive youth through the perspective of advancing age. That’s an easy crutch for older songwriters, but Taupin doesn’t always temper his observations with any wry humor; when John sings about “the ones that had to stay / Beneath the little wooden cross / Oceans away,” there’s a real sense of the gray skies over a lonely grave site in some European country, where those lost in the great wars found their final rest. On ‘Can’t Stay Alone Tonight’ and ‘The New Fever Waltz,’ they explore the delicate desperation of seeking and finding love late in life.
There’s no pretension about the songs on ‘The Diving Board’; at this late stage, John and Taupin are who they are, and they’re not trying to fit into any easy box that the music industry or fan expectations may have prepared for their burial. It’s a record that may put off some fans, but it’s not made for young ears in search of the Next Big Thing, or casual fans hoping for another ‘Philadelphia Freedom.’ Longtime John observers will be familiar with the drill — ‘The Diving Board’ is simply a fine set of new music from a pair of brilliant songwriters. Settle in and let the music happen.
On September 16, 2013, Elton John will release one of the most distinguished records of his unparalleled career. The Diving Board is set to be hailed as both a sophisticated new chapter in his unique songbook, and a work of old-school sonic clarity.
A return to the piano-bass-drums construction of Elton's early years, and a celebration of his brilliance not just as a song craftsman but as a world-class pianist, The Diving Board will evoke memories of the groundbreaking albums that established him in the early 1970s.
The lead track from the album, Home Again, makes its radio debut on June 24. On its release in September, The Diving Board will be available in a 15-track edition on CD, vinyl and download; a 19-track super deluxe version on CD and download, adding the extra studio track Candlelit Bedroom and three songs performed live earlier this year at Capitol Studios; and a Super Deluxe box set featuring the extended CD, gatefold vinyl, book and bonus DVD.
All of the songs on The Diving Board were written by John and his career-long lyrical collaborator, Bernie Taupin. It was recorded at The Village in Los Angeles and produced by T-Bone Burnett, the storied helmsman of countless landmark records including The Union, John's acclaimed 2010 collaboration with Leon Russell.
In a break with tradition, the recordings feature the minimalist accompaniment of a crack team of musicians, namely guitarist Doyle Bramhall, R&B singer-producer Raphael Saadiq on bass, Keefus Ciancia on keyboards and drummer Jay Bellerose. As another nod to John's devotion to vintage soul, there's also an appearance by Jack Ashford, the legendary percussionist of Motown's Funk Brothers heyday. The percussion block that Ashford plays onA Town Called Jubilee is the very one he used for Marvin Gaye's What's Going On.
For all of his global celebrity, the album is yet another reminder that Elton's chief professional responsibility is always to his music, and to helping the careers of young artists via his Rocket Music company. Soon-to-explode Irish band the Strypes are the latest act to be added to their roster, which includes Ed Sheeran, James Blunt, Lily Allen and many others.
The Diving Board follows John's latest collaboration, on Queens Of The Stone Age's chartbusting .Like Clockworkalbum and his recent work with Fall Out Boy.
It's only a year since he topped the UK album chart with Good Morning To The Night, which saw Australian dance production duo Pnau reinhabiting his classic catalogue. But The Diving Board is Elton's first studio recording of all-new solo material since 2006's The Captain & The Kid, and when the sessions started, he came roaring out of the traps.
"On the first three days of recording, in 2012, [Bernie and I] wrote 11 songs," he says. "All the tracks on the first session were done in five days. We went back this year and Bernie wrote some additional lyrics. I chose four and they were written and recorded in two days."
The John-Taupin team has been in partnership for so long, it's easy to underestimate the telepathic symbiosis of their creative process. "The great advantage of having Bernie as a lyricist is he's a very cinematic writer," says Elton. "I get a piece of paper [from him] and it has as story on it. Then I sit down at the keyboard.and because the story he's telling affects what I'm hearing.something comes out. I don't know what it is. It's as exciting as it was when I wrote the first melody to his first lyric, way back in 1967."
The spirit of spontaneity extended into the performances, just like old times. "When you've got musicians like these guys behind you, it's so exciting," Elton enthuses. "This was done, more or less, live. That's the way I used to record. In the old days, with the Elton John album  we were recording live with an orchestra, and I was terrified. But it's the way to do it. And that's the way T-Bone does it, he assembles this great group of musicians, and hence things don't take five or six months."
As on those formative albums, these new John-Taupin creations have echoes of the gospel, blues and country of the great American outdoors that always inspired them. Every track is a highlight, but they include intricate, engrossing narratives such as Ballad of Blind Tom, the introspective ballad My Quicksand, the irresistibly catchyCan't Stay Alone Tonight and The Diving Board itself, Elton's "saucy" examination (his description) of the price of fame, through the prism of modern-day reality TV.
"It's a very musical album," says Elton. "There's a lot to take in. I'm not going to be chasing One Direction up the charts. I'm just making music I feel good about."
01. Oceans Away 3:58
02. Oscar Wilde Gets Out 4:35
03. A Town Called Jubilee 4:29
04. The Ballad of Blind Tom 4:12
05. Dream #1 (Instrumental interlude) 0:39
06. My Quicksand 4:46
07. Can't Stay Alone Tonight 4:48
08. Voyeur 4:16
09. Home Again 5:01
10. Take This Dirty Water 4:24
11. Dream #2 (Instrumental interlude) 0:43
12. The New Fever Waltz 4:38
13. Mexican Vacation (Kids in the Candlelight) 3:33
14. Dream #3 (Instrumental interlude) 1:36
15. The Diving Board 5:55
Total length: 57:33
Deluxe edition bonus tracks
16. Candlelit Bedroom 4:13
17. Home Again (Live from Capitol Studios) 5:19
18. Mexican Vacation (Kids in the Candlelight) (Live from Capitol Studios) 4:27
19. The New Fever Waltz (Live from Capitol Studios) 4:42
Total length: 76:13