The Bridge (1986)

1. Running on Ice 2. This is the Time 3. A Matter of Trust 4. Modern Woman 5. Baby Grand 6. Big Man on Mulberry Street 7. Temptation 8. Code of Silence 9. Getting Closer


This is Billy Joel's "happy" album. For once in his career, Joel looked around him and thought that life was treating him pretty well. No, for the most part this is not a touchy-feely new-agey type album, but there's very little anger or bitterness. When there are moments of strife, it seems to be more focused on looking back on a particular period of his life. In hindsight, it might be reasonable to think the creative well was running a bit dry during the making of this record. He does two duets on this album (Ray Charles and Cindy Lauper) and works pretty extensively on a track with Steve Winwood, which is probably where the album title came from - crossing a "bridge" over into different styles.

Never has Joel sounded more adult contemporary. He was now happily married with a new daughter and these songs sound like they were written in a house with a white picket fence and a freshly manicured lawn. He seems very content on tracks such as A Matter of Trust and This is the Time as he croons about his newfound life. The regrets are always mentioned in the past tense on songs like Running on Ice, Code of Silence and Getting Closer yet they never once sound regretful. It's almost as Joel is grateful for the lessons he's learned from such mistakes.

Although he may be "forcing" himself to "bridge" into other territories, he manages to pull it off quite well. Example is the big-band/swing adventure Big Man on Mulberry Street. His duet with Ray Charles, Baby Grand also sounds like it could have been written by Charles by himself. One of the catchiest tunes on the album is the first single Modern Woman which was actually released a bit before the album, having appeared in the movie "Ruthless People". For whatever reason, Joel seems embarrassed by this song and, to my knowledge,has never played it in concert and it never appeared on any of his Hits compilations. I'm not sure why his opinion is so negative; nobody that I know dislikes the piece. It's a fun, catchy little tune.

Sadly, happiness would be short lived for Joel. Of course, some artists feel they can't be true to their craft unless they're upset, heart broken, or pissed off, and that really is a shame. This record may have lacked a certain punch, but it delivers when and where it's supposed to, and features only strong, solid material.

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