Tuesday, 29 May 2018
Billy Joel - Turnstiles (1976)
Released May 1976
Recorded at Ultrasound Studios, Hempstead NY
Arguably Billy Joel’s first great album, often unfairly overshadowed by the multi-million selling “The Stranger”. It felt on here that he had finally married all the disparate facets, both musically and lyrically, that appeared in patches on previous albums. This one hit the nail on the head.
Billy had wanted to write a song for Ronnie Spector of The Ronettes. What a song it was too, he out-Spectored Phil Spector on the marvellous, uplifting, saxophone-heaven that is “Say Goodbye To Hollywood”. Despite Ronnie’s iconic voice, Joel’s version is even better. There are two other great rock songs on here too, the closing, anthemic “Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)” with its great New York-inspired lyrics and the mighty, piano-introduced “Prelude/Angry Young Man”, often used since as a worthy concert opener.
The sensitive balladeer is found on the simply beautiful, short but sweet “Summer, Highland Falls”, one of my favourite Joel songs ever - “they say that these are not the best of times, but they’re the only times I’ve ever known”. “James” is also a lovely, thoughtful, tender song to an old schoolfriend and “I’ve Loved These Days” is a celebratory piece of nostalgia for a era that has barely ended. “All I Wanna Do Is Dance” echoes the same sentiments, with its question"why don't The Beatles get back together".
Then, of course, there is “New York State Of Mind”. Forget Sinatra’s “New York New York”, this has to be the greatest of all NYC songs. Full to the brim with images of the Big Apple against its melodic piano backing and Joel’s soulful voice. One of his finest moments. Do not underestimate this album in comparison with others. It is up there among Joel’s best.