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Thread: Ranking Billy Joel's albums

  1. #26
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  2. #27
    Turnstiles and The Stranger are the only ones of his I really care for. I find the rest of his work either too “sour,” too derivative, or both. And I hate to be “that guy,” but I feel compelled to mention the Attila album, which I actually have a non-ironic affection for.
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  3. #28
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    I always liked Turnstiles the best. I think The Nylon Curtain is a very underrated album also.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fracktured View Post
    I always liked Turnstiles the best. I think The Nylon Curtain is a very underrated album also.
    Agree, I rated them 1 & 2. Nylon Curtain is top notch and I like every song on it. I can't say that about too many Billy Joel albums.

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveSly View Post
    Agree, I rated them 1 & 2. Nylon Curtain is top notch and I like every song on it. I can't say that about too many Billy Joel albums.
    I don't know all of his albums but I think Piano Man is near perfect. There's maybe two songs towards the end that are just ok but most of it is really good. I remember the Stranger being pretty top notch also. Some of the others that I currently own(such as River of Dreams, Glass Houses and 52nd street) I need to listen to again(come to think of it I need to listen to the stranger again also). Turnstiles and the Nylon Curtain are two that I don't have so I'll need to add them to the list.

  6. #31
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    I used to like some of his songs on radio but the first album I heard was The Stranger, which I thought was great. I think 52nd Street is just as good an album. 'Zanzibar' is a gem which doesn't turn up on best ofs etc.

    I basically like him up to The Nylon Curtain (which was a strong album). An Innocent Man is OK in a pastiche sort of way, but pretty lightweight fare, really. TBH I'd rather hear the original Brill Building/Motown/doo wop records he was trying to sound like. Not particularly interested after that, though to be fair he hasn't recorded very much since the early 90s anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    I find the rest of his work either too “sour,”
    I'm not massively keen on 'Captain Jack', for that reason.

  7. #32
    Billy Joel was one of those artists who I came around to a bit late. I was there during the heyday, but it wasn't cool to listen to him until I listened more closely. One example was "Only the Good Die Young." Until I really paid attention to the lyrics, I was dismissive. Now it's one of my favorites from him. I suppose I was blinded by the pop charts. But, man what a great songwriter. One of the best lyricists of his day. A great voice and great keyboard player.

    I really love the live recordings from the mid- to late-70s.

    That being said, "It's Still Rock & Roll to Me" has to be one of the worst R&R-themed songs ever.
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  8. #33
    Far and away, my favorite is The Stranger. I've always loved that album.

    After that, I'd probably say Turnstiles and 52nd Street are about tied. The only other one I own at the moment is Glass Houses, but inspired by this thread I have Piano Man and Streetlife Serenade on order, not sure I've ever owned these. Back in the day, I pooh-poohed Glass Houses, but it's actually a pretty decent little album.

    I'm a little mixed on Nylon Curtain. For me, it has a kind of 80s sound that I don't especially like - gone is that sort of jazzy vibe for those big 80s dance beats. I do like some of the songs, so for me maybe it's just a production thing. After that, though, I think he lost the plot and never got it back.

    Bill

  9. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Man View Post
    I don't know all of his albums but I think Piano Man is near perfect. There's maybe two songs towards the end that are just ok but most of it is really good.
    Piano Man is a great album but I’m tired of hearing it anymore. When it was released he was already a big act in the Philadelphia area and it got played to death especially the title track and Captain Jack. On the deluxe edition there is a separate cd of his live show the WMMR recorded at Sigma Sound studios which was aired live if memory serves me before Piano Man was released and in fact he doesn’t even play the title track so it may not have been written yet at the time.

  10. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronmac View Post
    Billy Joel was one of those artists who I came around to a bit late. I was there during the heyday, but it wasn't cool to listen to him until I listened more closely. One example was "Only the Good Die Young." Until I really paid attention to the lyrics, I was dismissive. Now it's one of my favorites from him. I suppose I was blinded by the pop charts. But, man what a great songwriter. One of the best lyricists of his day. A great voice and great keyboard player.

    I really love the live recordings from the mid- to late-70s.

    That being said, "It's Still Rock & Roll to Me" has to be one of the worst R&R-themed songs ever.
    Exactly the same for me. Back when Joel was really popular I was not into him at all other than a few songs like "Piano Man". I remember sometime in the 90's I was having a conversation about Joel with a friend of mine and basically saying that I did not care for him much. My friend asked me if I had actually listened to any of his albums, which I had not at the time. He lent me "The Stranger" album and suddenly I got it with Joel and began exploring his catalogue. "Only The Good Die Young" is a great example of a song that was all over the radio that I just kind of blew off, but like you, once I really paid attention to it, I realized what a great song it is. There are still some Joel albums that I don't care for much, but many of his albums are great.

  11. #36
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    his albums were never my dope (became aware of him +/- around The Stranger). It was too "adult" for the teenager I was, and I'm still too young for it nowadays.


    How are those Attila (1 album) and The Hassle (2 albums), where he was obviously the main guy?
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  12. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post
    How are those Attila (1 album) and The Hassle (2 albums), where he was obviously the main guy?
    The Attila album is pretty ridiculous (goofy lyrics, and listening to Billy Freaking Joel trying his hardest to sound like Robert Plant is just hilarious. Don’t even get me started on the cover!) but if you’re into early organ-based attempts at heavy rock like Atomic Rooster or Quatermass, you ought to dig it.

    I haven’t heard all of the Hassles stuff, but what I did hear was pretty uninspired pop-psych-rock. And the psych was pretty much slight period flavor, we’re not exactly talking the Jimi Hendrix Experience here. “Second-rate Rascals” was how someone described them, and that seemed pretty on the money.
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  13. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sputnik View Post
    Far and away, my favorite is The Stranger. I've always loved that album.

    After that, I'd probably say Turnstiles and 52nd Street are about tied. The only other one I own at the moment is Glass Houses, but inspired by this thread I have Piano Man and Streetlife Serenade on order, not sure I've ever owned these. Back in the day, I pooh-poohed Glass Houses, but it's actually a pretty decent little album.

    I'm a little mixed on Nylon Curtain. For me, it has a kind of 80s sound that I don't especially like - gone is that sort of jazzy vibe for those big 80s dance beats. I do like some of the songs, so for me maybe it's just a production thing. After that, though, I think he lost the plot and never got it back.

    Bill
    Well, if I knew you were going to order them I would have recommended deep discount where you can find them(many of them)for a little over 6 dollars each(on cd). Not sure how much they are on vinyl.

  14. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Man View Post
    Well, if I knew you were going to order them I would have recommended deep discount where you can find them(many of them)for a little over 6 dollars each(on cd). Not sure how much they are on vinyl.
    I got them for a little over $6 each on Amazon on CD. I don't do vinyl.

    Bill

  15. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sputnik View Post
    I got them for a little over $6 each on Amazon on CD. I don't do vinyl.

    Bill
    I guess Amazon has them for about the same price as DD. As an fyi DD gives you free shipping on orders over 25 dollars. I don't do vinyl either. Maybe one day(again)but it's way more expensive for the most part. Cds all the way for me.

  16. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Man View Post
    I guess Amazon has them for about the same price as DD. As an fyi DD gives you free shipping on orders over 25 dollars. I don't do vinyl either. Maybe one day(again)but it's way more expensive for the most part. Cds all the way for me.
    Yeah, so does Amazon. I got them there because I needed a couple of other items that got me to $25. I never pay shipping on Amazon.

    Bill

  17. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sputnik View Post
    Yeah, so does Amazon. I got them there because I needed a couple of other items that got me to $25. I never pay shipping on Amazon.

    Bill
    I didn't realize that(about free shipping over 25) but good to know. That wouldn't apply if you buy from independent sellers on there which sometimes seems to be the case. However, sometimes you can find stuff cheaper there(through independent sellers on amazon)than just about anywhere else. I bought the Geddy Lee album "my favorite headache" on cd that way last year which was about 14.04 cents but that included shipping. It was a used copy but still not too bad but considering it's out of print and hard to find for a decent price I won't complain.

    Anyway, back to Billy Joel. I noticed that DD(Deep Discount)and probably also amazon have his first album, Cold Spring Habor, remastered(with the correct speed)from the original(and not the 80's release with updated production). That's one I'll probably get after the others.
    Last edited by Digital_Man; 04-06-2021 at 10:58 PM.

  18. #43
    cunning linguist 3LockBox's Avatar
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    I love Nylon Curtain. It's the first album proper of his I've ever owned, then his Greatest Hits Vol I & II, the The Bridge. I wasn't overly impressed with The Bridge and pretty much lost interest in him. Years later my teenage daughter came up to me (several years ago in fact) and asked if I'd ever heard of him (she'd heard Piano Man and a few other songs). I presented her with my Greatest Hits CD. I freaked her out when I pointed out that that old TV show, the one with Tom Hanks (Bosom Buddies), that was Billy Joel singing the theme. Holy crap, I did that a lot with my daughter. Good times.

  19. #44
    From Epic Prog, duh The_Lurker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3LockBox View Post
    I freaked her out when I pointed out that that old TV show, the one with Tom Hanks (Bosom Buddies), that was Billy Joel singing the theme. Holy crap, I did that a lot with my daughter. Good times.
    That wasn't Billy singing the theme, although it was his song. It was re-recorded and sung by Gary Bennett.
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  20. #45
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    Here's my Top Five:

    1. The Nylon Curtain
    2. The Stranger
    3. Glass Houses
    4. 52nd Street
    5. An Innocent Man

    I love Billy Joel!!! And Billy is a big Yes fan.
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  21. #46
    So I got my CDs and listened to Piano Man. It definitely sounds like an artist still finding his voice, he wears a lot of his influences in his sleeve here. The title track, Captain Jack and to a lesser extent Billy the Kid are all worth the price of admission, the latter marred somewhat by the cliche production. I know that song form a live version he did on Don Kirshner, which was much rawer and more personal. It's a good song, they just didn't need all that hokey orchestration, imo.

    Travelin' Player is good, as is Ain't No Crime, but the rest of the other tracks are at best serviceable and largely forgettable, If I Only Had the Words being the worst of the lot. This album would definitely not touch my top five, but I'm not sorry I have it.

    Streetlife Serenade is spinning now. So far I'm liking it. It sounds much more mature.

    Bill

  22. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sputnik View Post
    So I got my CDs and listened to Piano Man. It definitely sounds like an artist still finding his voice, he wears a lot of his influences in his sleeve here. The title track, Captain Jack and to a lesser extent Billy the Kid are all worth the price of admission, the latter marred somewhat by the cliche production. I know that song form a live version he did on Don Kirshner, which was much rawer and more personal. It's a good song, they just didn't need all that hokey orchestration, imo.

    Travelin' Player is good, as is Ain't No Crime, but the rest of the other tracks are at best serviceable and largely forgettable, If I Only Had the Words being the worst of the lot. This album would definitely not touch my top five, but I'm not sorry I have it.

    Streetlife Serenade is spinning now. So far I'm liking it. It sounds much more mature.

    Bill
    To be fair that assessment is just from one listening is it not? It might grow on you. Imo, piano man is more or less a country rock album. If that isn't someone's thing then I wouldn't expect them to like it. It's actually not normally my thing but for some reason I liked it and thought it was a very good album. It was also his breakthrough album. As they say on here though ymmv.

  23. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Man View Post
    To be fair that assessment is just from one listening is it not? It might grow on you. Imo, piano man is more or less a country rock album. If that isn't someone's thing then I wouldn't expect them to like it. It's actually not normally my thing but for some reason I liked it and thought it was a very good album. It was also his breakthrough album. As they say on here though ymmv.
    Yeah, that's one listen. I'll give it some time, but I doubt many of the deep tracks on this will grow on me much. You say "country rock," and I think there is some truth to this. There's a couple of songs that channel Glen Campbell. You're right, that's not really my thing, but I don't feel he especially brings a lot to the table in this particular style either. It was his breakthrough on the strength of two or three songs, as it should have been. But as an overall album, it's not that great, imo.

    First listen to Streetlife Serenade was a totally different experience. To me, this is a much more mature and interesting album, even though it lacks any killer hits like Piano Man or Captain Jack. Joel's vocal performance on this album is excellent, it really ranks among his best. I don't think the overall track list is quite up to the quality of Turnstiles, but he's moving in that direction. This is an album I'll be revisiting a lot. Despite the lack of hits, it's a far more consistent and better developed record. Definitely glad I took a chance on this one.

    Bill

  24. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sputnik View Post
    Yeah, that's one listen. I'll give it some time, but I doubt many of the deep tracks on this will grow on me much. You say "country rock," and I think there is some truth to this. There's a couple of songs that channel Glen Campbell. You're right, that's not really my thing, but I don't feel he especially brings a lot to the table in this particular style either. It was his breakthrough on the strength of two or three songs, as it should have been. But as an overall album, it's not that great, imo.

    First listen to Streetlife Serenade was a totally different experience. To me, this is a much more mature and interesting album, even though it lacks any killer hits like Piano Man or Captain Jack. Joel's vocal performance on this album is excellent, it really ranks among his best. I don't think the overall track list is quite up to the quality of Turnstiles, but he's moving in that direction. This is an album I'll be revisiting a lot. Despite the lack of hits, it's a far more consistent and better developed record. Definitely glad I took a chance on this one.

    Bill
    Ok. I think I'll pick up Streetlife Serenade at least then. Maybe some others also. I've heard a few tracks on youtube and it sounded good but that was a while ago. I like that there's a couple of instrumental tracks on it. Did you pick up Cold Spring Harbor also? Being that it's his first(and also considering your lukewarm opinion of Piano Man)that might be a miss for you. I had turnstiles on tape at point but it was used and had poor sound quality so never got to enjoy it. I'll add that to the list also.

  25. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Man View Post
    Ok. I think I'll pick up Streetlife Serenade at least then. Maybe some others also. I've heard a few tracks on youtube and it sounded good but that was a while ago. I like that there's a couple of instrumental tracks on it. Did you pick up Cold Spring Harbor also? Being that it's his first(and also considering your lukewarm opinion of Piano Man)that might be a miss for you. I had turnstiles on tape at point but it was used and had poor sound quality so never got to enjoy it. I'll add that to the list also.
    I did take a pass on Cold Spring Harbor. I may sample it and give it consideration, but I think you're right, my reaction to Piano Man tells me it won't be in my wheelhouse. I'd encourage you to revisit Turnstiles, I think that is a super album and I rate it almost as highly as my favorite, The Stranger.

    Bill

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