After the success of Too Low for Zero, Elton John decided to keep basically the same production team for its follow-up album, Breaking Hearts. The classic band of Davey Johnstone on guitars, Dee Murray on bass, and Nigel Olsson on drums returned, as did producer Chris Thomas. Bernie Taupin was now firmly back as Elton's full time lyricist. The album (like its predecessor) was recorded at AIR Studios in Montseratt. The engineer on the album was Renate Blauel, to whom Elton would later be briefly married.
After years of relatively lackluster albums, Elton John decided to go back to basics with 1983s Too Low for Zero. Chris Thomas, who had produced Elton's last few albums, would return. However, for the first time since Blue Moves, Bernie Taupin would write all lyrics for the album, and all instrumental tracks would feature the classic core band of Davey Johnstone on guitar and vocals, Dee Murray on bass and vocals, and Nigel Olsson on drums and vocals. As was the case with many of Elton's albums, things came together quickly. Bernie's lyrics were set to music and the entire album was recorded within two weeks at AIR Studios in Monserat and Sunset Sound Recorders in Los Angeles.
Elton John's sixteenth studio album, Jump Up!, was released on April 9, 1982. It was the first Elton John album to be fully produced by Chris Thomas, the Abbey Road technician who worked on the Beatles' White Album and was responsible for supervising the mixing of Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon. Thomas produce most of Elton's work through the better part of the next two decades, all the while working as well with acts including Roxy Music, Pete Townsend, and the Pretenders—not to mention David Gilmour and Paul McCartney of the aforementioned Floyd and Beatles respectively. The album also saw five tracks that featured lyrics by Bernie Taupin, the most he had contributed since Blue Moves in 1976 (The next Elton John album, Too Low for Zero, would feature only songs with Taupin lyrics.).
Elton John's The Fox was released on May 20, 1981. It was produced by Elton John and Clive Franks, as well as Chris Thomas who had previously supervised the mixing of Pink Floyd's Legendary The Dark Side of the Moon and would produce much of Elton's recorded work through the 1980s and 1990s.
21 at 33, Elton John's first album of the 1980s, was released on May 13, 1980. The album title refers to the fact that this was Elton's 21st release at the age of 33—a pretty good pace for a 12-year period. (Had he kept up that pace, there'd be over 70 albums by now.) 21 was recorded at Super Bear Studios in Nice, France, which was home base for the currently hot album The Wall by Pink Floyd, with additional work done at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles, California. It was produced by Elton with Clive Franks.
"Another Saturday Night" by Sam Cooke., "Mr. Tambourine Man" by the Byrds, "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys, "The Boxer" by Simon & Garfunkel