All-Time Albums: #80


BILLY JOEL The Stranger

1 Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song) 3:30 (UK single, #35)
The Stranger 5:09
Just The Way You Are 4:50 (UK single, #19)
4 Scenes From An Italian Restaurant 7:35
5 Vienna 3:34
6 Only The Good Die Young 3:55
She’s Always A Woman 3:20 (UK single, #29)
8 Get It Right The First Time 3:55
9 Everybody Has A Dream 6:37

We go back in time to 1977 for the next choice, so this is another album where my relationship with it has been forged posthumously, and doesn’t have all the associated memories of the post-1984 stuff. So it’s here purely on merit, although I have been a fan of Billy Joel’s ever since I seriously got into music.

Nearly every song on An Innocent Man was a single, and so I never felt the urge to buy that until long after the event, which meant 1985’s Greatest Hits (Vol. I & II) was my proper introduction. Several of the songs from The Stranger made it onto that compilation.

Bowie is always cast as the ultimate musical chameleon, switching sound and styles at every turn, so if Bowie is the chameleon, what of Billy Joel – an artist with such an innate grasp of musicality that he is rocking out one moment, smooching through one of the most enduring love ballads of all-time (Just The Way You Are), then engaging in Italo-flavoured folk songs….throwing in some gospel and soul along the way. And that’s often, as it is here, on the one album.

The Stranger includes many of his signature tracks, and thus feels like his definitive long-player. Streetlife Serenade (which came the year before) and 52nd Street (the year after) both have decent cases to be made in their favour, but I’m sticking with The Stranger.


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