Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Billy Joel Album 3 - Streetlife Serenade

When Billy Joel signed the record contract to record his first album "Cold Spring Harbor", he gave away the farm. Then the record was mastered at the wrong speed and he panicked, figuring he'd signed a multi-year contract with a bunch of idiots (he was right). He changed his name to William Martin and moved from New York to Los Angeles. He got a job in a piano bar, and those experiences led him to write "Piano Man" and the other songs for his second album, now with Columbia Records.

Still in LA, he wrote and released "Streetlife Serenade" in October 1974. There's an interesting commentary on the expectations on a pop musician in the lyrics of "The Entertainer" (I know the game and you'll forget my name, I won't be here in another year, if I don't stay on the charts).

For me the standout tracks are Los Angelenos about the types of people living in LA, The Great Suburban Showdown about returning home, and Souvenir. There are also two instrumentals on here. Root Beer Rag is a fun ragtime piece showcasing Billy's piano playing, and The Mexican Connection, a nice closer to the whole album.

It definitely shows some growth in his lyric writing, and will be followed up by his return to New York with his next album, Turnstiles.

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