Note: this release was originally purchased as a LP, later replaced by a CD.
If I had to pick my favorite Joel album, I'd probably go with either 52nd Street or Glass Houses. But if I had to choose my favorite Joel songs, Allentown and She's Right On Time from this album would certainly be in the discussion. As a cohesive concept album about suburban middle-agers, I don't think it's great, but there are some fantastic, underrated pop/rock songs scattered throughout. I think Joel agrees. I recently read a brief bit in Rolling Stone magazine where he states he's thinking about doing some "complete album" shows because, instead of playing his hits, he'd love to play other obscurities and the songs from this album top his list (RS 1189, p. 48). Having already seen him play his hits live, I'd be up for hearing a live rendition of The Nylon Curtain.
The commentariat generally consider this album to be Beatlesque and a more serious work for Joel. That may indeed be true (the guitar solo in Laura could be George Harrison), but all I cared about as a 16 year old Joel fan was the current music because I didn't yet have the prerequisite knowledge to understand all the musical influences. Now I get it, but too late - my opinions of these songs were formed 31 years ago. Like most Joel albums from 1977 - 1983, this one continues to get frequent plays.
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #7
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #5
Don't miss: Allentown, She's Right On TimePersonal Memory Associated with this CD: Like most Joel albums after The Stranger, this album was purchased within days (if not hours) of release. I remember going to the local music store and picking this up, walking to the sales counter and running into my high school music teacher. He asked what I was buying and I simply handed him the LP. He smiled, nodded, and handed it back. I have absolutely no idea what he was thinking at the time. Now I'm recalling that wonderful smell of fresh vinyl straight out of the record sleeve.
Good stuff: Laura, Pressure, Scandanavian Skies
Meh: A Room Of Our Own, Where's The Orchestra?
Skip: Goodnight Saigon, Surprises
Also like most Joel albums after The Stranger, I knew all the lyrics to all the songs in a matter of days. Allentown, in particular, remains a car sing-along favorite to this day as it fits perfectly within my vocal range (at least I think it does). At 16, I thought the lyrics to Where's The Orchestra? were deep, but I couldn't decipher what I thought were metaphors. Turns out they were just bad lyrics.
Previously revisited for the blog:
2000 Years: The Millennium Concert (2000)
To Make You Feel My Love (1997)
Storm Front (1989)
The Bridge (1986)
An Innocent Man (1983)
Songs in the Attic (1981)
Glass Houses (1980)
52nd Street (1978)
The Stranger (1977)