Turnstiles (1976)

1. Say Goodbye to Hollywood 2. Summer, Highland Falls 3. All You Wanna Do is Dance 4. New York State of Mind 5. James 6. Prelude/The Angry Young Man 7. I've Loved These Days 8. Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)


This is a prime example of an album that, had it been recorded properly, could have easily been one of the best albums in the history of pop music. To give Joel credit, he knew things weren't right in the recording studio on his last few releases, and tried his best to get the right people involved. Fortunately, he was able to record with his touring band (something that wasn't that common back in the seventies) and he was able to fire his producer, Michael Stewart. For reasons unknown to me, Joel produced the record himself. Although this album sounds much better than the previous releases, Joel didn't have quite the expertise needed to really pull this off the way he wanted in terms of production.

Billy Joel is now back in his native New York, and he seems much more comfortable this time around. The songs seem much more authentic and memorable. The two best known songs Say Goodbye To Hollywood and New York State of Mind could easily be bookends of his personal journey after deciding he had had enough of the Piano bars in California. The latter song became one of the best known tunes in his hometown, and while it has strengths, it really doesn't play quite the same anywhere else in the world. Maybe this why he rarely plays the song outside of The Big Apple? The Angry Young Man, with it's lightning fast piano intro, seems to emulate the sentiments of the song perfectly and would usually find its way into his concerts - many times as the set list opener. He seemed to relate on a personal level to this song much more than being "The Piano Man".

The styles are varied on this album. You can't accuse this album of sounding the same throughout the tracks. On other albums by other artists, this trait can be a hinderance, but this isn't the case here. We see the reflective, retrospective side come out on the touching Summer, Highland Falls only to switch gears to the futuristic, apocalyptic Miami 2017. One of my favorite tracks is the sadly overlooked reggae number All You Wanna Do is Dance. I wish he'd do this one live once and awhile. James is a nice, sweet little piece about friends going separate ways that will probably never see each other again. It's the only so-so thing on the album. Rounding out the album is the nostalgic I've Loved These Days that is touching, although I'm not sure if this was biographical - it seems like he's singing about a lifestyle that I wouldn't think matches his upbringing. Maybe for a spoiled rich kid from Connecticut, but not the Long Island former amateur boxer.

At only eight songs, the album seems a bit short, especially since the tunes are quite enjoyable. When he tried to "fix some of his earlier recordings" on the live album Songs in the Attic, he would feature half the songs on this album. This tells you that Joel, himself, felt that this album didn't come out quite the way he desired, even though it's definitely an above-average piece of work.

Back To Main Page
Go To Next Review