An Innocent Man (1983)

1. Easy Money 2. An Innocent Man 3. The Longest Time 4. This Night 5. Tell Her About It 6. Uptown Girl 7. Careless Talk 8. Christie Lee 9. Leave a Tender Moment Alone 10.Keeping the Faith


This was quite a remarkable accomplishment. After the sprawling, critically acclaimed, carfully crafted The Nylon Curtain, Joel somehow manages to release this one less than one year later. It's quite a big deal since he completely changes styles 180 degrees. Whereas his last release was meticulously produced and labored, this is a throw off, low key ode to the doo wop music of his early teens that influenced his career. Had The Nylon Curtain been a failure, you could easily see why Joel, or any artist, would choose this as a next project. The fact that the previous record was not a failure, coupled with how good this release turned out to be only shows again how talented the man really is.

Also, it probably helped that he had a new love in his life. The public exposure to his relationship, and later marriage to Christie Brinkley, began here. We hear references to Christie throughout the whole album, and she even appears in the Uptown Girl video. Maybe it was this innocent love affair that sparked the whole feeling of the album? Regardless, the mood worked. You can hear the early sixties music influences throughout the whole album, yet it never feels like Joel is trying to necessarily replicate the genre. Sure, songs like Tell Her About It and Christie Lee could have easily fooled anyone into thinking that they were not originals, yet maybe covers of twenty year old songs. But other songs such as Leave a Tender Moment Alone, The Longest Time and Keeping the Faith are true to the genre in spirit only which is o.k. since they all come out quite nicely.

This was the only Billy Joel album that had six songs, more than half the album, make the charts. To be honest, it became a little tiring to hear Joel on the radio as often as one did back in 1983 and 1984. Ironic because the best song here, This Night wasn't one of the six. Give credit to Joel for admitting that he lifted part of a Beethoven piece for the chorus. Other songs don't quite measure up as they should. Easy Money tries to replicate the hard party soul sound of the time (think "Animal House") and it doesn't quite fit in with the rest of the album. Christie Lee (supposedly not about his wife, she just has the same first name) also sounds a bit forced. Ironic because an alternate, superior recording would appear many years later on the disastrous compilation My Lives.

Joel had been going full force for about a decade now, releasing an album on average every year. He would start to run out of gas and, sadly, out of ideas over the next decade as his material would reduce in quantity (some would argue in quality as well). With six songs making the charts from this album, it shouldn't surprise anyone that you could only go a little bit downwards from here anyway.

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