Glass Houses (1980)

1. You May Be Right 2. Sometimes a Fantasy 3. Don't Ask Me Why 4. It's Still Rock and Roll to Me 5. All For Leyna 6. I Don't Want to Be Alone 7. Sleeping with the Television On 8. C'Etait Toi (You Were the One) 9. Close to the Borderline 10.Through the Long Night


Coming off his most ambitious, sprawling release ,52nd Street, Joel scales this one back in a big way. This is a very stripped down, organic rock and roll album that doesn't much mirror its predecessor in any way. The only thing that really is similar is the quality of work. Again, Joel manages to produce a very strong album.

During the time of this album's release, the music industry changed a lot in just a few short years. The slick sounding, over production sound was now out of vogue, and in its place was a much more sraight forward sound of music that punk and new wave were famous for emulating. That's not to say that the best of this breed of music was in any way simpler, just a lot more basic in its approach. Apart from an occasional sax solo here and there, Joel manages to keep outside instruments to a minimum while still remaining fresh, and creating some of his best known melodies ever.

The album opener You May Be Right rivals Big Shot from his last record in terms of its angst, anger and juvenile sentiments. This was Joel's way of telling the whole world that he can rock hard, regardless of what his critics may think. He doesn't skip a beat with his phone sex anthem Sometimes a Fantasy that became a minor hit and still remains a fan favorite. His other stab at hard driving rock and roll succeeds as well, the infectious Close to the Borderline, that is well done,if not as respected since, well maybe, it wasn't a single.

Although it always displeased Joel to be lumped into the category of "soft rock" or "adult contemporary", he really shouldn't come down on himself too hard. As "hard rock" as this album is, he manages to sprinkle this release with a lot of "pop" melodies that stand out just as strong as the harder pieces. Don't Ask Me Why almost sounds as it belongs in a set of a Mariachi Band and not on a rock record, yet Joel manages to keep the spirit of the song without it sounding goofy. All For Leyna is another overlooked tune that remains a favorite of the faithful. It's hard to define this as rock, but that might be because of the production of the song, not the track itself.

The best song on here is also the most ironic. It's Still Rock and Roll To Me manages to be the strongest track on the record with its quirky lyrics and melody, while at the same time making a statement (whether intentional or not) about the album itself. No matter how you classify the music, Joel is saying, it's coming from the heart. So why not enjoy?

To be honest, Joel runs out of steam on side 2 - the album seems to be "front loaded" with it's strongest tracks on the first side of the album. One thing he fails to do (probably intentionally) is to come up with a good "ballad" that he always manages to sneak in on his albums. C'Etait Toi (You Were the One) and Through the Long Night attempt to slow things down and add some sweetness, but neither song really takes off that well.

Joel managed to change things up each release, never feeling comfortable putting out a "part 2" of any prior album regardless of how successful. One could argue that Joel never quite rocked this hard again. But with his variety of influences and styles, it didn't really harm his popularity or quality in any way.

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