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The early 1980s was 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) which commenced on 21 at 33 is once again sparsely tapped. He contributes the tepid "Heels of the Wind" and "Just Like Belgium," which foreshadow the pair's future lightweight efforts, such as "Nikita." Slightly more promising, however, is the mid-tempo 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 Cowboy (1975). Gary Osborne and John's collaborations are beginning to yield some impressive results, including "Heart in the Right Place," which could easily have been a follow-up to 1974's slinky Caribou track "Stinker." The tender "Chloe" conclusion to the "Carla/Etude"/"Fanfare" medley became one of two tracks released 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 which he occasionally revives 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 Jump Up! (1982) before culminating on his '80s breakthrough Too Low for Zero (1983).