Thursday, 30 August 2018

Billy Joel




I became aware of Billy Joel in 1973, with his "Piano Man" single. It seemed, during that period, that a number of UK artists had an American "equivalent" - David Bowie had Lou Reed The Stones/Mott The Hoople had The New York Dolls and Elton John had Billy Joel. He was very much perceived as the USA's Elton John, serving up piano-backed, thoughtful ballads with a touch of rock here and there.

Personally, I properly got into him with the "52nd Street" album in 1978, which inspired me to buy "The Stranger" too. Despite being preoccupied with punk and new wave at the time, this sharp, cool New Yorker appealed to me in the same way that Bruce Springsteen did. He was more than just a balladeer - he had a knack for an atmospheric lyric and he merged it with a tough, streetwise persona too. He had a knowledge of music history as well, reflected in many of his recordings. There was always a down to earth honesty about Joel, together with a bit of wit that made him and his music an attractive prospect. The best material comes from the 1974-1978 period, a time where he just personifies that whole New York Italian restaurant vibe.

LIST OF ALBUMS

Click on the title for a more detailed review.

Cold Spring Harbor (1971)
Piano Man (1973)
Streetlife Serenade (1974)
Turnstiles (1976)
The Stranger (1977)
52nd Street (1978)
Glass Houses (1980)
The Nylon Curtain (1982)
An Innocent Man (1983)
The Bridge (1986)
Storm Front (1989)
River Of Dreams (1993)

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