Tuesday, 12 June 2018
Billy Joel - The Bridge (1986)
Released July 1986
Recorded in New York City and California
Like its title suggests, this is something of a bridging album for Billy Joel, after the huge commercial success of "An Innocent Man" and its multiple hit singles from two years earlier and "Storm Front" from three years later.
Joel produced a much less commercial album here and in many ways it is the better for it. It is a pretty credible effort, to be fair. There is no obvious hit single on here, although the riffy rocker that was "A Matter Of Trust" was a middling hit. There are two wonderful, sweeping romantic numbers on the album - the lovely, evocative "This Is The Time" with its instant build up chorus and "Temptation", a number that sees Joel's deep, alluring and melodic voice on top form. He just has such a way of producing a real, catchy hook to a song that maybe slow in its build up but has that tuneful drama in its chorus. Both of these have that to the max.
"Running On Ice" is a frantic, piano-driven rocker to kick things off with another glorious hook. All good stuff. This is actually one of my favourite Billy Joel albums.
Billy doesn't neglect his beloved jazzy blues either and his duet with Ray Charles on "Baby Grand" is bluesy, soulful and pretty magnificent, to be honest. "Big Man On Mulberry Street" has Billy revisiting his old New York haunts, something which guarantees and atmospheric song. It merges big band punch, jazzy vocals, brass riffs and a New York urban soundscape. An impressive cornerstone of the album.
"Modern Woman" is an upbeat, slightly cynical, slightly witty take on strong contemporary women who give the singer the runaround, while the slightly staccato, shuffling "Code Of Silence" features Cyndi Lauper on vocals with Joel. "Getting Closer" is another of those slow songs with a killer hook on its refrain. Joel was just the master of those sort of instantly recognisable songs at the time. I prefer this album to "An Innocent Man". A good one.