Stranger

The Stranger

4.6 6
by Billy Joel
     
 

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With his first hit, "Piano Man," Billy Joel came across like fellow Long Islander Harry Chapin, an earnest storyteller whose tales were more interesting than his tunes. But subsequent albums proved that Joel was gaining sophistication and subtlety. By the time he released The Stranger, in 1977, Joel had really hit his stride: He was rocking harder, had loads of

Overview

With his first hit, "Piano Man," Billy Joel came across like fellow Long Islander Harry Chapin, an earnest storyteller whose tales were more interesting than his tunes. But subsequent albums proved that Joel was gaining sophistication and subtlety. By the time he released The Stranger, in 1977, Joel had really hit his stride: He was rocking harder, had loads of smart-ass personality, could rhyme "cadillac" with "Hackensack," and, perhaps more important, was willing to do it. Bruce Springsteen had become the Boss by then, and his Born to Run slices of street life were the standard to which everyone else's work was compared. Joel didn't sport a blue collar, but the humorously frustrated characters he created in songs like "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" and "Only the Good Die Young" were more familiar to a mass audience than Bruce's car jockeys and small-time hoods, and the public responded enthusiastically. Joel's sentimental side also struck a chord with listeners, as evidenced by the success of the ballads "Just the Way You Are" and "She's Always a Woman," which stand as two of Joel's finest.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Billy Joel teamed with Phil Ramone, a famed engineer who had just scored his first producing hits with Art Garfunkel's Breakaway and Paul Simon's Still Crazy After All These Years for The Stranger, his follow-up to Turnstiles. Joel still favored big, sweeping melodies, but Ramone convinced him to streamline his arrangements and clean up the production. The results aren't necessarily revelatory, since he covered so much ground on Turnstiles, but the commercialism of The Stranger is a bit of a surprise. None of his ballads have been as sweet or slick as "Just the Way You Are"; he never had created a rocker as bouncy or infectious as "Only the Good Die Young"; and the glossy production of "She's Always a Woman" disguises its latent misogynist streak. Joel balanced such radio-ready material with a series of New York vignettes, seemingly inspired by Springsteen's working-class fables and clearly intended to be the artistic centerpieces of the album. They do provide The Stranger with the feel of a concept album, yet there is no true thematic connection between the pieces, and his lyrics are often vague or mean-spirited. His lyrical shortcomings are overshadowed by his musical strengths. Even if his melodies sound more Broadway than Beatles -- the epic suite "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" feels like a show-stopping closer -- there's no denying that the melodies of each song on The Stranger are memorable, so much so that they strengthen the weaker portions of the album. Joel rarely wrote a set of songs better than those on The Stranger, nor did he often deliver an album as consistently listenable.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/24/2008
Label:
Sony Legacy
UPC:
0886973185810
catalogNumber:
731858
Rank:
6716

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Billy Joel   Primary Artist,Synthesizer,Harmonica,Piano,Keyboards,Vocals
Patti Austin   Vocals,Background Vocals
Gwen Guthrie   Vocals,Background Vocals
Phoebe Snow   Vocals,Background Vocals
Hiram Bullock   Guitar,Electric Guitar
Steve Khan   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Rhythm Guitar,12-string Guitar
Ralph MacDonald   Percussion
Dominic Cortese   Accordion
Steve Burgh   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Richie Cannata   Organ,Clarinet,Fiddle,Flute,Keyboards,Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone,Wind
Liberty DeVitto   Percussion,Drums
Lani Groves   Vocals,Background Vocals
Hugh McCracken   Acoustic Guitar
Doug Stegmeyer   Bass
Richard Tee   Organ
Phil Woods   Saxophone,Alto Saxophone
Dave Brown   Guitar
Hugh Macdonald   Acoustic Guitar

Technical Credits

Billy Joel   Composer,Producer
Patrick Williams   Orchestration
Jim Boyer   Engineer
Phil Ramone   Producer,Engineer
John Naatjes   Tape Research

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The Stranger 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm a new found fan, I'm also 14, and I came across this album in a kind of weird way. I had heard of Billy Joel before and absolutley loved his song 'Only The Good Die Young' and played it in the juke box all the time!! The way a found this album was from the movie 13 Going On 30. I was watching and a song came on and I really liked it! I later found out that it was called Vienna and Billy Joel sung it!! I was cleaning my room and listening, rewinding, and re-listening to the same song over and over again and I learned all the words to the song and finally desided that it was time to get one of his album's but Vienna had to be on it!! And I found this one online and went shopping with my friend and bought it! Boy am I glad that I did that!! I LOVE his song Movin' Out!! What a tune that has!! I thought it was funny cuz I also memerize Only The Good Die Young the same whey!! I listened to the sond over and over again on my way home from a school trip to Montreal!! I memerized the whole thing on the ride home!! Billy Joel Rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
And Billy Joel's The Stranger is just a great album to listen to, whatever mood you happen to be in. I, myself do not have the album, but my parents do and I have had a few listens and I can't get enough of some of the songs such as "Only The Good Die Young" and "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)". These songs just never get boring and I have now become a fan of Billy Joel. Something I told my mom would never happen.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Im thirteen and i've been listening to Billy Joel with my mom since i was a little kid. I love his music it is so much better than all of the music coming out today. Viena is such a good song I listen to it all the time. I remember listening to We Didnt STart the fire when i was little and singing it with my friends . All of Billie Joel's song are amazing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Definately one of my favorite albums of all time. This is an amazing album for both new and old fans alike. I saw Billy live this past January and played a good 2/3 of the songs on this album! If you ever get a chance to see him live..DO IT! He's phenomenal!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago