Saturday, December 29, 2007

CD Review: An Innocent Man

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
Every few months, Rod Stewart, Barry Manilow, or some other sixty-something singer releases an album paying tribute to the great music of the past. Back in 1983, Billy Joel did something similar. However, instead of simply covering his favorite songs from the 50s, he wrote new songs in the styles of his favorite artists.
"Christie Lee", for example, is influenced by the work of Jerry Lee Lewis. But like many Billy Joel songs, it tells a story, this one about his then-girlfriend Christie Lee Brinkley. Instead of showing off his piano chops, Billy instead lets his band mate Mark Rivera bust out a nice alto sax solo.
Then there's "Easy Money", an homage to James Brown. You can tell from the blasting horns, funky bass, soulful organ, driving drums, and Billy's imitation of James's trademark grunts. He even got some female back-up singers. A few seconds into the song, one could picture James making a grand entrance onstage.
By 1983, Billy had come a long way from making simpler songs like "Just the Way You Are", and was getting more ambitious in the studio. This album wouldn't have been possible without Billy's band: Rivera, drummer Liberty DeVitto, guitarists David Brown and Russell Javors, and bassist Doug Stegmeyer. Producer Phil Ramone did a great job putting it all together. Particular props for "The Longest Time", a track comprised of 15 vocal parts all performed by Billy himself.
This is Billy Joel at his best. The album does a great job displaying his abilities as a songwriter, singer, and musician. His best work? I wouldn't know. Christina?
****1/4 out of five

1 comment:

  1. Ben, you're my hero.

    Personally, I'm partial to "The Stranger"... maybe that's just because it's got both my favorite BJ song ("Scenes from an Italian Restaurant") and "Anthony's Song," the one I play for my brother all the time (in hopes of him someday actually Movin' Out...hahah).

    I have "Glass Houses" on vinyl.. that's comes in at a close second.



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