The early '80s were not a particularly focused time in Elton John's career. The Fox (1981) is a reflection of the tentative regrouping that began on his previous effort, 21 at 33 (1979). In fact, a third of the material was left over from the same August 1979 sessions. This results in dithering musical styles and ultimately yields an uneven and at times somewhat dated sound. The reunion with Bernie Taupin (lyrics) that commenced on 21 at 33 is once again sparsely tapped. He contributes the tepid "Heels of the Wind" as well as "Just Like Belgium," which foreshadows the pair's future lightweight efforts such as "Nikita." Slightly more promising, however, is the midtempo rocker "Fascist Faces" -- which may well be a nod to David Bowie's infamous "Britain could benefit from a fascist leader" statement. The album's introspective title track instantly recalls the slightly bittersweet "Curtains" coda from Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboys (1975). Gary Osborne and Elton John's collaborations were beginning to yield some impressive results, including "Heart in the Right Place" -- which could easily have been a follow-up to the slinky Caribou (1974) track "Stinker." The tender "Chloe" conclusion to the "Carla/Etude/Fanfare" medley became one of two tracks extracted as singles. The other, "Nobody Wins," sports a Euro-beat flavor and was adapted from a French techno-pop hit by Osborne and Jean-Paul Dreau. According to John, the dark and noir "Elton's Song" remains a favorite, and he very occasionally revives it for live performances. Although The Fox isn't a grand slam, it isn't exactly a bunt either. However, the incremental momentum would continue on the subsequent long-player, Jump Up! (1982), before culminating on his '80s breakthrough, Too Low for Zero (1983).
The Fox Review
by Lindsay Planer