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52nd Street
     

52nd Street

by Billy Joel
 

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Once The Stranger became a hit, Billy Joel quickly re-entered the studio with producer Phil Ramone to record the follow-up, 52nd Street. Instead of breaking from the sound of The Stranger, Joel chose to expand it, making it more sophisticated and somewhat jazzy. Often, his moves sounded as if they were responses to Steely

Overview

Once The Stranger became a hit, Billy Joel quickly re-entered the studio with producer Phil Ramone to record the follow-up, 52nd Street. Instead of breaking from the sound of The Stranger, Joel chose to expand it, making it more sophisticated and somewhat jazzy. Often, his moves sounded as if they were responses to Steely Dan -- indeed, his phrasing and melody for "Zanzibar" is a direct homage to Donald Fagen circa The Royal Scam, and it also boasts a solo from jazz great Freddie Hubbard à la Steely Dan -- but since Joel is a working-class populist, not an elitist college boy, he never shies away from big gestures and melodies. Consequently, 52nd Street unintentionally embellishes the Broadway overtones of its predecessor, not only on a centerpiece like "Stiletto," but when he's rocking out on "Big Shot." That isn't necessarily bad, since Joel's strong suit turns out to be showmanship -- he dazzles with his melodic skills and his enthusiastic performances. He also knows how to make a record. Song for song, 52nd Street might not be as strong as The Stranger, but there are no weak songs -- indeed, "Honesty," "My Life," "Until the Night," and the three mentioned above are among his best -- and they all flow together smoothly, thanks to Ramone's seamless production and Joel's melodic craftsmanship. It's remarkable to think that in a matter of three records, Joel had hit upon a workable, marketable formula -- one that not only made him one of the biggest-selling artists of his era, but one of the most enjoyable mainstream hitmakers. 52nd Street is a testament to that achievement.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/31/2012
Label:
Mobile Fidelity
UPC:
0821797209069
catalogNumber:
2090
Rank:
27642

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Billy Joel   Primary Artist,Piano,Vocals
Steve Khan   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
David Friedman   Percussion,Orchestral Chimes
Ralph MacDonald   Percussion
Ray Simpson   Background Vocals
David Nadien   Concert Master
Richie Cannata   Organ,Clarinet,Saxophone
Peter Cetera   Background Vocals
Donnie Dacus   Background Vocals
Liberty DeVitto   Drums
Babi Floyd   Background Vocals
Eric Gale   Electric Guitar
Milt Grayson   Background Vocals
Freddie Hubbard   Trumpet
Mike Mainieri   Marimbas,Vibes
George Marge   Soprano Recorder
Hugh McCracken   Guitar (Nylon String)
David Spinozza   Acoustic Guitar
Doug Stegmeyer   Bass,Background Vocals
Frank Floyd   Background Vocals
Zack Sanders   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Billy Joel   Composer
Jim Boyer   Engineer,Remixing
Dave Grusin   Orchestration
Robert Freedman   Orchestration,Horn Arrangements
Phil Ramone   Producer,Remixing
John Berg   Cover Design
Kathy Kurs   Producer
Carol Peters   Producer

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