IT'S BETTER THAN DRINKIN' ALONE: The Official ILM Track-by-Track BILLY JOEL Listening Thread

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Welcome one and all to what is sure to be one of the most popular threads in ILM history, as we take a song-a-day, track-by-track journey through the musical output of the Piano Man himself. A quick glance at Wiki confirms his significance: thirty-three self-penned Top 40 hits, twenty-three Grammy nominations (six wins), an estimated 150 million records sold worldwide, and a position just one slot shy of the Eagles as the sixth-best-selling artist of all time in the USA. If this staggering track record has not always translated into critical cred or hipster kisses, all the more reason to dig deep, listen close, and re-evaluate.

To get things started...

https://img.discogs.com/QNpKf3_ZWbH_YncKomidPiXwucI=/fit-in/600x607/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-1580441-1420639267-9442.jpeg.jpg https://img.discogs.com/sgvR7zxU8gGhZJivqUljTKBeoy8=/fit-in/473x445/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-1580441-1257610467.jpeg.jpg

It's July, 1971. Buffeted by the troubles of the times, rock listeners find themselves reaching for the heartfelt, melodic expressions of the singer-songwriter. Perhaps taking note of Carole King's position at the top of the charts, the tiny Family label sees no reason not to take a chance on a demo tape of earnestly-sung, piano-backed ballads by a twenty-two-year-old keyboardist from Long Island. Already the veteran of a few flopped-out rock combos, but stripped of his earlier West-Coast freakout and heavy-metal trappings, William Martin Joel enters the studio to record his solo debut, Cold Spring Harbor.. It hit the streets that November, and we begin our journey with the kickoff track and sole, non-charting single: She's Got A Way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUn-XOQoN3U

Note: This recording is from a 1980s remix correcting a legendary mastering goof on the original record: the entire album ran slightly too fast, producing an up-pitched "Chipmunk" effect on Joel's vocals. Chronological purists who want to experience the music as it was originally released should click here.

﴿→ ☺ (Doctor Casino), Monday, 17 July 2017 02:27 (four months ago) Permalink

Wow - I didn't know that She's Got A Way was first-track first-album! I loved this already ... but even more now know it pushed the boat out

it's just so clean & simple & pleasing.

Yoni Loves Chocha (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 17 July 2017 02:37 (four months ago) Permalink

omg @ chipmunk version LOOOOL that is hysterical

Yoni Loves Chocha (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 17 July 2017 02:39 (four months ago) Permalink

Well, to add to the embarrassing recording goofs, I've still got the wrong version up there! Sorry, Billy! The Youtube above is actually the Songs in the Attic live version from ten years later, which did chart. It's sort of hard to pin down these versions but give me a second here.

﴿→ ☺ (Doctor Casino), Monday, 17 July 2017 02:57 (four months ago) Permalink

that Songs in the Attic version is the one i already knew. interesting!

Yoni Loves Chocha (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 17 July 2017 02:58 (four months ago) Permalink

So, the full, pitch-corrected 1983 remix of the album is here; it's also on Spotify. Individual YouTubes are a mishmash, with both the live hit and the original Chipmunk version getting slapped up with the CSH album cover, and a bevy of do-it-yourself corrected versions. But basically this is what we should listen to:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXAKedxxVe4

﴿→ ☺ (Doctor Casino), Monday, 17 July 2017 03:03 (four months ago) Permalink

It's very interesting to compare the "corrected original" to the "live hit" versions - the lingering psychedelic "let us be like children together in the garden" tweeness of the earlier recording gets ironed out of it, and he adds a pinch of harder vocal grit to the second pass through "she touches me, I get turned around." Essentially, he brings it much closer to his signature late-70s sound, though he retains the very, very stripped-down arrangement.

To be honest, I've never really strongly connected with this song - good melody, great opening line... without the Chipmunk thing, and with the right promotional backing, you imagine he could have gotten at least a regional hit out of this. But it's one of these "she's great, she's great, she's really great" kind of songs without conflict, narrative or rhythm section... makes it a bit too easy for it to just drift by. I do think I like it better in its original, rather less professional incarnation. Elsewhere, I love Joel's grand-entertainer, crowd-pleaser populism, but on these first couple albums I like also hearing this kid - affectations and fumbles and evident desire to be Paul McCartney and all.

﴿→ ☺ (Doctor Casino), Monday, 17 July 2017 03:13 (four months ago) Permalink

i enjoy the way he over-enunciates as a young man. like someone said to him it's important that we understand all the words

Yoni Loves Chocha (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 17 July 2017 03:14 (four months ago) Permalink

totally!

﴿→ ☺ (Doctor Casino), Monday, 17 July 2017 03:18 (four months ago) Permalink

it's probably more proto-air supply than anything tbh

but even in that category it's head and shoulders above. like, compared with the overwrought verging on gross "baby ima want you" syrup that will be pouring into listeners ears in the coming years, it's great

Yoni Loves Chocha (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 17 July 2017 03:20 (four months ago) Permalink

Just based on this song, in a vacuum, I would've expected him to turn into more of a Manilow-type than he ever ended up being.

Ⓓⓡ. (Johnny Fever), Monday, 17 July 2017 04:12 (four months ago) Permalink

the path of earnest songwriting is fraught with danger

Yoni Loves Chocha (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 17 July 2017 04:46 (four months ago) Permalink

it's funny I haven't heard joel and manilow compared much - sure their careersan attitudes and styles are quite different, but as showtunes holdouts and staples of the adult contemporary charts... idk

﴿→ ☺ (Doctor Casino), Monday, 17 July 2017 05:11 (four months ago) Permalink

joel has way better songwriting (as this thread will hopefully bear out) - it's his abilities as a storyteller that navigated him out of those waters imo

manilow had good hooks but his lyrics are pretty bad, more like long commercial jingles

Yoni Loves Chocha (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 17 July 2017 05:30 (four months ago) Permalink

though i agree with dr c that there's not much to the lyric on "she's got a way," it's A-plus compared to most of what we're going to be listening to over the next week and a half, simply by virtue of billy not trying too hard. he's infatuated with a girl, he says so, he rhymes "about her" with "without her," he tosses in a bridge, he's done. he can do worse, much worse, and he will. and the melody sticks. a telling start to his career: he's a piano man with a gift for a hook and not a lot to say, not yet.

having not heard cold spring harbor in years, i miss the octave vocal leap that ends the song in the songs from the attic version. that was a nice touch.

fact checking cuz, Monday, 17 July 2017 06:12 (four months ago) Permalink

This recording is from a 1980s remix correcting a legendary mastering goof on the original record

warning: they also re-recorded the backing tracks on a couple songs, without billy's involvement. the relationship between family productions' artie ripp, who signed him and owned these masters, deteriorated fast, and though billy quickly dumped him for columbia, ripp won a lot in the divorce: he owned a piece of billy's next ten (!) albums, and his logo appears on all of them.

fact checking cuz, Monday, 17 July 2017 06:22 (four months ago) Permalink

christ that's awful, the music industry really is full of absolute bandits.

i love how he put out 'Greatest Hits I And II' as one CD/album, not bothering with the traditional 1 and 2 volumes separated by say half a decade like most folk.

piscesx, Monday, 17 July 2017 10:59 (four months ago) Permalink

http://www.thatericalper.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Attila-008.jpg

We're going to pretend this never happened?

calstars, Monday, 17 July 2017 11:16 (four months ago) Permalink

re: Manilow and jingles, I had no idea he actually did some of that! "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there" - wow. Another difference, as Attila reminds us, is that for all his wistful balladeering, Billy wants to ROCK, and to be thought of as a rocker. This too connects him with Lennon and McCartney much more than Manilow or most of the other archetypal singer-songwriters.

I had floated the idea of including Attila and the Hassles in this thread but ppl pointed out that they were distinct "things," and anyway we were looking at a lot of tracks on this thread. But I think ppl should check 'em out - we could do a short pause after CSH and just say "today is Attila Day," rather than going track by track... idk!

﴿→ ☺ (Doctor Casino), Monday, 17 July 2017 11:32 (four months ago) Permalink

I mean I guess people can also just talk about it whenever, also! Just thinking in the spirit of dedicated group experience or w/e.

﴿→ ☺ (Doctor Casino), Monday, 17 July 2017 12:01 (four months ago) Permalink

The ratio of "discussion of Attila as music" to "lol, that cover" is historically quite lopsided. Not that I want to be the person to correct the imbalance - just sayin.

"She's Got a Way" is gr8 btw

didgeridon't (Ye Mad Puffin), Monday, 17 July 2017 12:48 (four months ago) Permalink

Woah, hadn't realized we had started this!

So, "She's Got a Way." The version I know is the Greatest Hits one, which is the Songs From the Attic one, and this is my first time hearing the CSH version. I've always found it decent but unexceptional, not to mention tonally jarring within the chronological ordering of GH, sandwiched between the more, uh, muscular 80s material.

Listening to the original for the first time, I can see why he went with a later version. The mixing on CSH really is disgusting and I imagine that it will make the next 9 days of this thread something of a slog.

some sad trombone Twilight Zone shit (cryptosicko), Monday, 17 July 2017 13:52 (four months ago) Permalink

There is a piece from Entertainment Weekly from around the time of River of Dreams where Billy offered brief commentary on all of his albums. I tried to dig it up, but I couldn't find it. Also, EW's website is the worst.

Basically, as I recall, Billy dismisses the record due to the mastering error, claiming that he can't ever listen to it. Having my first taste of it just now, I can see why.

some sad trombone Twilight Zone shit (cryptosicko), Monday, 17 July 2017 13:58 (four months ago) Permalink

Tuneful prettiness. Not bad.

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 17 July 2017 13:59 (four months ago) Permalink

affectations and fumbles and evident desire to be Paul McCartney and all

Listening to the Chipmunk version you linked above (only being familiar with the GH version before) and given the year, it strikes me that this is definitely his attempt at re-writing "Maybe I'm Amazed."

Old Lynch's Sex Paragraph (Phil D.), Monday, 17 July 2017 14:06 (four months ago) Permalink

CSH is canon, but I can't help but always thinking of Piano Man as his first record.

Similar to Bowie.

pplains, Monday, 17 July 2017 14:18 (four months ago) Permalink

(Just thought I'd beat the rest of you to writing out that last sentence.)

pplains, Monday, 17 July 2017 14:18 (four months ago) Permalink

(see also: warren zevon)

fact checking cuz, Monday, 17 July 2017 14:25 (four months ago) Permalink

ATTENTION! NATALIE MAINES IS NOT A LESBIAN.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPxllU2WUak

pplains, Monday, 17 July 2017 14:41 (four months ago) Permalink

I know singers have been tweaking lyrics to suit their gender/orientation for decades, but shifting it from first-person to third-person changes the context too much.

pplains, Monday, 17 July 2017 14:42 (four months ago) Permalink

centuries

didgeridon't (Ye Mad Puffin), Monday, 17 July 2017 14:57 (four months ago) Permalink

The song's vagueness--he likes this woman, but can't quite isolate her particular qualities--nicely mirrors my own ambiguous feelings towards it.

some sad trombone Twilight Zone shit (cryptosicko), Monday, 17 July 2017 16:24 (four months ago) Permalink

It's a vague sentiment, sure, but it's light-years better than "Always a Woman," in which the message is "she's a heinous bitch but I like her anyway."

didgeridon't (Ye Mad Puffin), Monday, 17 July 2017 16:40 (four months ago) Permalink

i like this, nice little song

love the cover, i love how period it looks, like it could be some long forgotten "lost classic" reissued by Light in the Attic

though I'm pretty impressed, for a first song on a first album this feels very much like a "Billy Joel" song, like he's got his aesthetic and identity right out of the gate, like Black Sabbath or something

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Monday, 17 July 2017 16:41 (four months ago) Permalink

new goal of this listening thread: to pinpoint the moment he loses his hopeful high voice

Yoni Loves Chocha (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 17 July 2017 16:45 (four months ago) Permalink

The vagueness also makes it one of VERY FEW love songs that a father could plausibly dedicate to a daughter and have it come off in a not-totally-creepy way.

This may venture into uber-maudlin TMI territory, but: the line "she's got a smile that heals me" does in fact make me think of my daughter. I know it's corny as hell but there it is.

didgeridon't (Ye Mad Puffin), Monday, 17 July 2017 16:48 (four months ago) Permalink

no that's otm

Yoni Loves Chocha (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 17 July 2017 16:51 (four months ago) Permalink

and lovely <3

Yoni Loves Chocha (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 17 July 2017 16:51 (four months ago) Permalink

for a first song on a first album this feels very much like a "Billy Joel" song, like he's got his aesthetic and identity right out of the gate, like Black Sabbath or something

haha. but i'm not sure he truly finds his "billy joel" voice until track 3 on this album.

his hopeful high voice

sounds like he's channelling paul mccartney via emitt rhodes, who at this particular point in time was making better billy joel records than billy joel was.

fact checking cuz, Monday, 17 July 2017 16:53 (four months ago) Permalink

true!

Yoni Loves Chocha (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 17 July 2017 16:54 (four months ago) Permalink

I don't know if its the pitch issue, but his voice sounds more shaky than I expected. Starting from "Piano Man" on, his voice has a confidence that he never loses - I just figured he always had it. Interesting to hear, actually

Vinnie, Monday, 17 July 2017 17:03 (four months ago) Permalink

i think he's trying to go for lilting & comes off as slightly petrified haha

Yoni Loves Chocha (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 17 July 2017 17:10 (four months ago) Permalink

yeah track three is KEY to joel's entire steez going forward, looking forward to that.

agreed about trying to sound lilting. ATTILA reminds us that he did already know how to sing in a more forceful and confident manner, so this here is as much a "poetic" affectation as his bellows over there are an attempt to find his "hard rock" voice.

"maybe i'm amazed" is a very apt comparison - and it, too, wasn't a hit until a live album years later! I picture joel watching it rise on the charts in 1976, clenching his fists, blood boiling at the CSH screwups all over again, and swearing that if HE ever gets big enough to merit a live album, he knows just what the single will be and won't THAT show 'em all? "your song" also probably had to be on somebody's mind, the label's if not the artist's.

﴿→ ☺ (Doctor Casino), Monday, 17 July 2017 17:34 (four months ago) Permalink

like he's got his aesthetic and identity right out of the gate, like Black Sabbath or something running down the road, trying to loosen its load....

pplains, Monday, 17 July 2017 17:41 (four months ago) Permalink

i'm guessing this song's about the other member of attila's wife (later to be his own).

i'd always understood that the "mastering error" is because they wanted to cram too many minutes of music onto the album.

Thus Sang Freud, Monday, 17 July 2017 17:46 (four months ago) Permalink

so many wives...

Yoni Loves Chocha (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 17 July 2017 17:59 (four months ago) Permalink

like he's got his aesthetic and identity right out of the gate, like Black Sabbath or something running down the road, trying to loosen its load....

― pplains, Monday, July 17, 2017 12:41 PM (two hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

you know...for some reason it never occurred to me till this very second that the protagonist of "Take it Easy" was shitting his pants

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Monday, 17 July 2017 19:50 (four months ago) Permalink

i'd lump the eagles in with billy as a band who didn't achieve their full aesthetic and identity until track three of their debut album. chug all night y'all.

fact checking cuz, Monday, 17 July 2017 20:03 (four months ago) Permalink

i'd always understood that the "mastering error" is because they wanted to cram too many minutes of music onto the album

I hadn't heard that specifically about CSH. But I have heard that "Silver Springs" was kept off Rumours partly because the resulting length would have mean that they could just BARELY fit it in only by narrowing the grooves and unacceptably compromising the bass response.

Tangent: Interesting to think about the degree to which actual physical limitations were relevant - all of this in living memory. Les Paul was faking multitracking by ping-ponging, then the Beatles were on four tracks, then eight, then DSotM, then Steely Dan's automated mixes, then ProTools... all of this has happened within the lifespan of specific known humans. The time from the Wright brother's first flight to walking on muthaflippin moon? Many of us have grandparents who lived through both.

didgeridon't (Ye Mad Puffin), Monday, 17 July 2017 20:32 (four months ago) Permalink

agreed about trying to sound lilting. ATTILA reminds us that he did already know how to sing in a more forceful and confident manner, so this here is as much a "poetic" affectation as his bellows over there are an attempt to find his "hard rock" voice.

Ah gotcha. I ain't heard CSH yet, so I sure as hell ain't heard Attila yet

Vinnie, Tuesday, 18 July 2017 01:52 (four months ago) Permalink

"Modern Woman" - not as bad as I expected, based on the comments here. Bit dated, but the melody is catchy

"Big Man on Mulberry Street" - "whatever he's doing with his voice here has got to stop." yeah exactly, he stays in the weakest part of his voice for the whole song. music is ok if a bit aimless

Vinnie, Sunday, 12 November 2017 01:14 (six days ago) Permalink

mulberry street - title good, song kinda terrible

fact checking cuz, Sunday, 12 November 2017 17:45 (six days ago) Permalink

"i'll leave a big tip with every receipt" may be the worst attempt at a rhyme in billy's oeuvre

fact checking cuz, Sunday, 12 November 2017 17:50 (six days ago) Permalink

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34s9gkkMzZg

Temptation is, according to Billy, a ballad about fatherly life, and all the things that take you away from watching your child sleep, etc.

Doctor Casino, Sunday, 12 November 2017 17:52 (six days ago) Permalink

uh i am very surprised at how much i love "mulberry street"

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Sunday, 12 November 2017 18:05 (six days ago) Permalink

i'd like to hear "temptation" recorded by southside johnny and the asbury jukes in 1977 with steven van zandt producing. and then maybe covered 10 years later by eddie money and ronnie spector. there's a decent song hidden under here but billy seems to have no idea what do with it.

fact checking cuz, Sunday, 12 November 2017 18:07 (six days ago) Permalink

it's just so fun! the melody he sings during the shift into jazz is one of my favorite things he's ever composed xp

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Sunday, 12 November 2017 18:08 (six days ago) Permalink

whoa i love "temptation" too! i mean the chorus feels a little overextended but i'm cool with it! keep having good songs, billy joel's the bridge!

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Sunday, 12 November 2017 18:12 (six days ago) Permalink

These last couple kinda go past me... I like the arrangement of "Mulberry Street" but there's not enough of a song/hook there. The slightly raspy falsetto keeps making me think of some TMBG song, maybe the live throwaway "Escape From The Planet Of The Apes"?

"Temptation" kind of the same deal, it's pretty and stately and all but also feels ponderous and long because there's just not as much melody or craft as something like "Honesty." Sounds like he's going for a Bryan Adams mega-ballad maybe?

Doctor Casino, Monday, 13 November 2017 14:07 (five days ago) Permalink

Can't wait to read what you think of today's!

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 13 November 2017 14:11 (five days ago) Permalink

"Temptation" just goes on and on. Between this, "Mulberry Street", and "Modern Woman", he really expanded his range of pastiches to styles that don't suit him, on this album

Vinnie, Monday, 13 November 2017 14:34 (five days ago) Permalink

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niIWtw-70Lo

Code of Silence, the second-to-last track, is another duet with a "We Are the World" veteran: the legendary Cyndi Lauper, who also assisted with writing the song. You must watch the corresponding segment to the "Building the Bridge" featurette, online here at 12:34, in which Billy's writer's block is depicted in animated cartoon form. Inexplicably, there is no cartoon Cyndi - was she in rights negotiations for an animated series or something??

In return, Joel showed up doing backing vocals on Lauper's "Maybe He'll Know," which taps back into that An Innocent Man vibe a little bit. It was released as a single in the Netherlands only, and did not chart.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQY-ISwmqpU

Doctor Casino, Monday, 13 November 2017 16:37 (five days ago) Permalink

Inexplicably, there is no cartoon Cyndi

I would totes dig an MC Skat Cat-style duet with cartoon Cyndi.

Anyway it's not a hook-filled song and I can see why it isn't a perennial fave. Me, I like the dated drum sound (almost "Eminence Front"-ish). Harmonica not unwelcome. But overall, meh.

piezoelectric landlord (Ye Mad Puffin), Monday, 13 November 2017 16:49 (five days ago) Permalink

This is in the tradition of a huge 1986 hit called "Live to Tell," in which Madonna also refuses to explain the nature of the secret.

I listened to this track a lot in July when I created a BJ best-of list.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 13 November 2017 16:51 (five days ago) Permalink

last two don't do a lot for me

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Monday, 13 November 2017 17:08 (five days ago) Permalink

I like the song but the harmonica seems quite out of place

Vinnie, Tuesday, 14 November 2017 01:42 (four days ago) Permalink

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLsXrgtalbA

Getting Closer: album closer, with Steve Winwood guesting as organ player. I'm under a deadline so can't look up anything else on this one, but as we leave The Bridge, let us also bid farewell to Phil Ramone, Russell Javors, Doug Stegmeyer, and Mark Rivera (the hitherto unmentioend saxophonist who replaced Richie Cannata a while back). Next studio album is a whole new ballgame, with Liberty Devitto the only holdover.

Doctor Casino, Tuesday, 14 November 2017 14:30 (four days ago) Permalink

Maybe it's Stevie on the organ, but this could've been on one of those mid-80s Eric Clapton records. Would've fit right in inside the background of one of those pool hall scenes from The Color of Money.

pplains, Tuesday, 14 November 2017 14:42 (four days ago) Permalink

The ascending melody of the chorus is just about the only touch of magic in this song, and it's a very Winwoody magic. Sounds a bit like Traffic's Empty Pages ("found someone who can comfort me...").

So it's either Joel trying in his labored way to write like Stevie. Or maybe Stevie just saying, "well, mate, how about we do something like (burbly burble burbly burble)?"

We're used to all the catchiest top-40 fodder being on side 1 by now, but these last several songs seem particularly hookless and workmanlike.

piezoelectric landlord (Ye Mad Puffin), Tuesday, 14 November 2017 14:51 (four days ago) Permalink

I couldn't find anything to say about the last two, and that continues with this one. Fair to say that if The Bridge isn't his worst album, it is certainly his dullest?

iCloudius (cryptosicko), Tuesday, 14 November 2017 16:04 (four days ago) Permalink

Dullest, maybe, but not worst, not when a couple of the early albums offer competition.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 14 November 2017 16:20 (four days ago) Permalink

devitto's drums in "code of silence" carry that song for me

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Tuesday, 14 November 2017 16:23 (four days ago) Permalink

cyndi's harmonies are also wonderful. the verses are soooooo dull and perfunctory though

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Tuesday, 14 November 2017 16:24 (four days ago) Permalink

anyway i think this is weirdly prob my fav billy joel album after innocent man but i very much get finding it his dullest. there's a kind of perfect marriage between sound and composition for me here; even the boring songs aren't very boring to me bc the arrangements are generally doing something cool or extremely uncool!

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Tuesday, 14 November 2017 16:25 (four days ago) Permalink

devitto's snare lands in the strangest places in "code of silence," i love it

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Tuesday, 14 November 2017 16:26 (four days ago) Permalink

"getting closer" is def the most bored i've been on this album so far but the chorus is pretty solid

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Tuesday, 14 November 2017 16:28 (four days ago) Permalink

this is terrible, rock star bitching about royalties/accountants/managers is the worst rock genre

anyway yeah it's vaguely "bluesy" in the worst, most anonymous 1980s way

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 14 November 2017 19:39 (four days ago) Permalink

code of silence - i've listened to this about a dozen times over the past two days trying to come up with something to say about it and i'm at a complete loss. sounds like the cold war to me. (and have we talked about the album cover painting? that *looks* like the cold war to me, and it's just about screaming: "within lies a billy joel album you are not going to like.") thank god for cyndi.

getting closer - "i'm getting closer/getting closer" may be the worst chorus hook in the billy joel oeuvre, and no amount of billy pounding on the piano can hide that.

fact checking cuz, Tuesday, 14 November 2017 20:01 (four days ago) Permalink

yeah I would like to like these last couple but am really struggling to. dad rock is fine but not if dad's feeling the well run dry. it's nine tracks long and four of them are five minutes long on three minutes (maybe) worth of material. hook shortage. the anonymous cover does set the tone for me but i'd probably feel differently if this thing closed with "baby grand" rather than the three weakest tracks right in a row.

Doctor Casino, Wednesday, 15 November 2017 00:29 (three days ago) Permalink

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/68/Billy_Joel_-_KOHUEPT.jpg

Концерт, aka Kohuept, Kontsert, and Concert, was Billy's second live album, released to mark the six Moscow and Leningrad dates of the the Bridge tour. Running seventy-two minutes over two discs, it may be of interest to fans interested to see how earlier hits were presented by this point in Billy's arena development. His attempts to verbalize the big ideas of "Allentown" and "Goodnight Saigon" for Soviet teenagers may also be worth a listen. We won't linger on it here, but I figured we should at least mark the two covers of 1960s classics that conclude the program: The Times They Are A-Changin' and Back in the USSR. The latter was released as a single, failing to chart in the US but scraping the top 40 in Australia. Its video suggests Billy was eager to give the Iron Curtain kids a real rock 'n' roll show.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYGmXPbJRq4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42Tah0DCubg

https://img.discogs.com/AkyUSXQ2wJdIvo9GfGbfMfVtDGU=/fit-in/600x579/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-6634543-1427762014-5226.jpeg.jpg

Doctor Casino, Thursday, 16 November 2017 15:13 (two days ago) Permalink

I love how Russia covers 11 time zones and there's still exactly one building that communicates "Russia."

loretta swit happens (Ye Mad Puffin), Thursday, 16 November 2017 15:50 (two days ago) Permalink

Indeed, at that time, it meant the entire Soviet Union, which was even huger.

loretta swit happens (Ye Mad Puffin), Thursday, 16 November 2017 15:52 (two days ago) Permalink

Phew! After those last few, I'm all

https://i.imgur.com/AqSOsn2.gif

pplains, Thursday, 16 November 2017 15:55 (two days ago) Permalink

so weird to see Billy doing the solo acoustic folk singer thing!

Back in the USSR def plays to his strengths and style

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 16 November 2017 16:53 (two days ago) Permalink

I like the slow, wait-for-the-translation messages to the audience on this album. They're hokey but feel sincere, like Billy's really hoping he can help the Russian youth realize that the corresponding American youth have been through similar struggles and have similar worries etc. I get, like, Christmas Day cease-fire vibes off of Goodnight Saigon in this context. Naive in a certain pop star way but it's a nice step beyond just saying "rock and roll is universal!" or whatever.

Doctor Casino, Thursday, 16 November 2017 17:13 (two days ago) Permalink

"Baby Grand" without Ray is a disaster though! Should have roped in some famed Soviet singing star to mix it up or not even tried.

Doctor Casino, Thursday, 16 November 2017 17:21 (two days ago) Permalink

In Soviet Russia, piano plays YOU.

loretta swit happens (Ye Mad Puffin), Thursday, 16 November 2017 17:24 (two days ago) Permalink

"A Matter of Trust" sounding a lot beefier, closer my Addicted To Love concept. I later found a clip where Billy talks about going for a Robert Palmer sound on that but I wonder if that became clearer later after ATL actually came out. His clenched Palmer-style singing isn't as obvious as his other impressions since it's so close to the "gritty" voice he often uses but I do think it's there.

Doctor Casino, Thursday, 16 November 2017 17:26 (two days ago) Permalink

Looking at that hideous drop-shadow CD artwork reminds me that the vinyl album had no print on the cover, just that type design blind embossed into the solid red cover. Fitting for a double album with "Back in the USSR" and his most Beatles moment.

attention vampire (MatthewK), Thursday, 16 November 2017 19:02 (two days ago) Permalink

Billy u gotta bring yr A-game to rock the Kremlin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrSKG3TS0uER

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 16 November 2017 19:56 (two days ago) Permalink

deep state tried to shut me down won't happen #billileaks

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFVZCsUYwd0

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 16 November 2017 19:58 (two days ago) Permalink

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jb7kJ-j_dKA

Why Should I Worry? is Billy's big number as Dodger, a mongrel with "streetwise savoir faire" and a major character in Disney's Oliver and Company. It's his sole film credit as an actor (not playing himself). The song was written by the frequent team of Dan Hartman and Charlie Midnight, whose most recent big score was "Living In America." Hartman, a name I probably should have known already, went all the way back to writing "Free Ride" while in the Edgar Winter Group, so I like to imagine he and Billy understood each other a bit.

Released November 18, 1988, the film performed decently but not spectacularly, being beaten in a head-to-head opening-weekend match with The Land Before Time though ultimately outgrossing it. See further discussion in this thread.

https://img.discogs.com/oZREjV0-2Ie4i4OPiQBi-yV2cQk=/fit-in/600x598/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-2860634-1304400544.jpeg.jpg
https://img.discogs.com/Ys2_qC1ePB9DOzm5IhHK1CtFy9c=/fit-in/600x599/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-2860634-1304400558.jpeg.jpg

Sing us a song, you're the piano mutt...

Doctor Casino, Friday, 17 November 2017 15:14 (yesterday) Permalink

he song was written by the frequent team of Dan Hartman and Charlie Midnight, whose most recent big score was "Living In America." Hartman, a name I probably should have known already, went all the way back to writing "Free Ride" while in the Edgar Winter Group, so I like to imagine he and Billy understood each other a bit.

and "I Can Dream About You"!

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 17 November 2017 15:26 (yesterday) Permalink

I had no idea that Hartman wrote this! An okay song; would have fit in nicely on The Bridge, and is better than most of what is already on there.

Cute scene, btw, even if the movie itself hasn't aged very well (I posted about it a few years ago on that Disney thread that DC linked).

iCloudius (cryptosicko), Friday, 17 November 2017 15:45 (yesterday) Permalink

Released November 18, 1988, the film performed decently but not spectacularly, being beaten in a head-to-head opening-weekend match with The Land Before Time though ultimately outgrossing it

crazy how it outgrossed land before time which is much better remembered now

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 17 November 2017 16:34 (yesterday) Permalink

no numbers for this, but i have to assume LBT crushed it on home video. kids who saw that wanted to see it again... i don't feel like there was the same demand for O&C. an american tail had previously beat great mouse detective at the box office though, so this was in some sense a small comeback for disney. (secret of nimh didn't have disney competition, save a rerelease of bambi, but was part of the larger wave of things that were absolutely wiped out by the success of e.t.)

gimme the beet poison, free my soul (Doctor Casino), Friday, 17 November 2017 16:46 (yesterday) Permalink

never heard this song before. don't think i've ever heard *of* it! i like it. totally cute, even though the verse and chorus sound like they're two different songs. he sounds way looser on this than he does on most of the bridge.

footnote 1: he's a good voice actor! he should've done more of that.

footnote 2: i was going to write that this song suggests an alternate second career for him as a randy newman hollywood songwriter guy, if he ever wanted to do the work. but then i saw that he didn't write it. so forget it.

fact checking cuz, Friday, 17 November 2017 19:21 (yesterday) Permalink

An American Tail was my sister's favorite movie in the late '80s. Lots of sleepovers at my grandma's at which she performed "Somewhere Out There."

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 17 November 2017 19:28 (yesterday) Permalink

"Back in the USSR": nothing surprising, but the band do a good job with it

"Why Should I Worry?": I never saw this movie but I vaguely remember the advertising as a kid. the chorus of this song was used in all the commercials so that part came right back to me as I listened to the song. it's fine, I suppose. yes, better than some of the songs on "The Bridge"

Vinnie, Saturday, 18 November 2017 03:43 (two hours ago) Permalink


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