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Elton John Says "The Diving Board" Is "One of the Best Records of My Career"

Image courtesy of Capitol Records (via ABC News Radio)
Image courtesy of Capitol Records (via ABC News Radio)

Elton John figures he's released somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 albums in his incredible career, but he believes that his new one, The Diving Board, which is in stores on Tuesday, is one of his better efforts.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Elton said, "I think this is probably one of the best records of my career."  He added, "I know artists say that whenever a new album comes out, but I really, sincerely believe -- piano-wise and vocal-wise, songwriting-wise and production-wise -- that this is one of my best records, if not the best."

The Diving Board is a continuation of the sound that Elton first explored with The Union, the acclaimed disc he made a few years back with his idol Leon Russell and producer T Bone Burnett .  Inspired by the back-to-basics sound of a record called Modern Times by Bob Dylan , Elton decided to go back to analog, rather than digital recording, and strip things way down.  "It's basically piano, bass and drum," Elton says of The Diving Board.  

The record, he says, was made in two parts.  Armed with a batch of new lyrics from Bernie Taupin , Elton says, "We wrote ten or eleven songs in about three days, and recorded them in about three days. And then, I kind of left it for a year, and I'd never had the luxury before of having space between writing something and then going back to it, [but] I went back a year later." 

He says he then wrote another four songs, threw out a couple of the original tracks, and the result was The Diving Board.

The title track, he says, is about the dark side of fame, especially its effect on young people.  "For me, the song is about someone like Lindsay Lohan , who had everything at the start, was a fantastic actress, great recording artist," he explained to the BBC. "And then it all went really, tragically wrong because of drugs and the wrong people she was hanging around with.  It's about the pitfalls of being a young star."

While Elton is making the rounds to promote the record -- he appeared on the Emmy Awards on Sunday night, and will be on both ABC's Good Morning America and The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Wednesday -- he says he's not necessarily trying to compete with today's big pop stars when it comes to radio hits and album sales.

"I'm not competing with anybody anymore.  My place is safe," he says firmly.  "Y'know, I sell out concerts.  My place is safe.  I just want to make sure that the more I record, the better I can get, and the quality that I do is still up there.  And that's what keeps me going."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio