Note: this release was originally purchased as a cassette tape, later replaced by a CD.
One of Joel's most successful albums (4x platinum, 3 top 40 singles), it is also one of his most lifeless. This isn't one of my favorite Joel albums, but it is certainly not as bad as 1993's River Of Dreams. Joel's first mistake was getting rid of long-time producer Phil Ramone and bringing in Foreigner's Mick Jones. Next, he got rid of a few band members. Allmusic calls this album "the beginning of the end" but I would argue that tipping point happened with The Bridge. I would also argue that the album's success had less to do with solid songwriting and more to do with Joel's reputation and the horrid state of pop music in 1989 (Paula Abdul, Roxette, New Kids On The Block, Milli Vanilli). A few good songs here, but hardly a memorable album.
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #1 (1 week, Dec 16, 1989)
Tracks: If I never heard We Didn't Start The Fire again, I'd be okay with that. The band Train recently tried their hand at writing a blatant knock-off: This'll Be My Year; I don't need to hear that ever again, either. Despite the bizarrely defensive lyrics, the best song here is the opener, That's Not Her Style. Also good are I Go To Extremes, Shameless, and And So It Goes. I almost always skip The Downeaster 'Alexa', Leningrad, and the comic filler of When In Rome.
Note: this CD, released in 1998, contained CD Extra content, but my computer won't play it because the 1998 technology is no longer compatible. Maybe I've got an old Windows 3.1 machine in the attic somewhere...
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: This album reminds me of the one year my wife and I lived in Farmers Branch and, for some reason, the dry cleaner we used there. A year later, I directed a junior high band that played an arrangement of We Didn't Start The Fire. I don't know which arrangement sounds worse - junior high band or Joel's own butchering on his live album, 2000 Years: The Millennium Concert.
Previously revisited for the blog:
2000 Years: The Millennium Concert (2000)
To Make You Feel My Love (1997)
The Bridge (1986)
An Innocent Man (1983)
Songs in the Attic (1981)
Glass Houses (1980)
52nd Street (1978)
The Stranger (1977)