Sunday, January 22, 2017

200 MOST RECOMMENDED ALBUMS: #8. Continues next week.
Some are the best selling, while others may be obscure, but the albums listed here are all worthy of a listen. No compilation/ best of sets. Only exceptional live albums included. This is a personal listing of the albums I enjoy the most to this day.
With the songs "Piano Man", "Say Goodbye To Hollywood" and "New York State of Mind", Billy Joel had already gradually been building up his profile by the release of this 1977 album. On 'The Stranger', Joel stretched his creative skill, delivering his most complete album. There was obvious progression from the previous year's 'Turnstiles' LP. Most notable is Phil Ramone's role as producer on this- his 1st project for Joel. From beginning to end, 'The Stranger' features a bevy of new songs that remain solid favourites decades later. Its tracks established him as one of America's most popular storytellers, in the same vein as Bruce Springsteen. The album opens with "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)", a song rejecting the materialistic rat race. Next is the title track, irresistible and haunting at the same time. "Just The Way You Are" is the album's major hit song, it propelled him to household name status. That Grammy winner is followed by the sweeping epic "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant". The style changes again for the lush "Vienna". There's humour in the rock song "Only The Good Die Young" as its protagonist attempts to coax a virgin to enjoy carnal pleasures. As if "Just The Way You Are" was not romantic enough, Joel melts any remaining unmoved heart with "She's Always A Woman". The ballad gives way to the upbeat "Get It Right The First Time" and its catchy rhythms. Joel closes the album with the gospel- flavoured "Everybody Has A Dream" and a brief reprise of the title track's melody. The range of styles, clever use of hooks and Joel's virtuosity as a musician made 'The Stranger' a worthy addition to any record collection.
Highlight tracks:
* The Stranger
* Scenes From An Italian Restaurant
* Just The Way You Are
* She's Always A Woman
* Only The Good Die Young
* Movin' Out 

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