Got To Begin At Some Point
Andre S. Grindle | Brewer Maine | 11/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I tell you I've passed over this album many many times over the years and now that I finaly own it I couldn't be more happy. Right away I do need to mention that this album was remixed slightly in 1983 and,as a result of just a few of the drum tracks have a certain sound quality that..that was just not in existant in when this album was originally recorded. When this album came out Billy Joel probably recorded it as a solo side project from Attila,the band he was a member of at the time and was basically going for a different kind of musical sound than he had with them. Somehow or other this had the effect of launching him on what turned out to be a hugely successful career as a solo artist. And it's not hard to see why because when one listens to this album,individuality is a key musical aspect of what he's going for. At this early point Billy is already putting his influences into place as he is not only making it clear how piano based his sound is but that his sound is just as based in jazz based American composers such as Gershwin and Broadway writers such as Jerome Kern,as well as people like Beethoven. Perhaps it was this rather old fashioned and sometimes retro cosmipoliton approch that made the music appear less rockish than say what Elton John was coming up with on a regular basis. The earlier sketch of "She's Got A Way" really brings that home well in that it's basically him on solo piano and nothing more. "You Can Make Me Feel Free" with all of it's dramatic chords has a prominant McCartney influence,especially as of his then new album Ram. On the uptempo "Everybody Loves You Now" and "Falling Of The Rain" strong compositions are married to arrangements....that sound like what in fact the Gershwins might come up with if they recorded 70's pop/rock. Billy Joel is often underrated as a songwriter and even though I never personally felt that way,this album has actually increased the opposit side of the opinion for me. "You Look So Good To Me",as the other uptempo song here gets the same effect-again the music is not guitar oriented as so much of rock,especially bands like Attilla tended to be. There are plenty more wonderful ballads here such as the classically oriented pop piano instrumental "Nocturne" and more restrained pieces such as "Why Judy Why" and "Tomorrow Is Today". For sure it's not the full bodied sound that he would develope on his next album and isn't incredibly rhythmic but,it's not plain mellowness exactly either. Closer at times to....the stark minimalism of John Lennon's John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. only with more perception and less harshness to the lyrical approch. Still it's enjoyable to see that even todays standards when dealing with an artist how can create something not only artistically but commercially contemporary and viable using these kinds of influences as a basis.
Pre-Piano Man very impressive at corrected speed
R. Warner | Wilmington, DE United States | 10/16/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"You can hear the seeds of what was to come here from Billy Joel...first coming together with the next album PIANO MAN, and then onward. A very worthwhile listen and must-have for the "collectors" among us of an artist with many influences but a unique voice."