Great Rock Albums of 1982: Billy Joel- The Nylon Curtain
April Fool’s Day has past and I am glad that everybody enjoyed my little joke last week but as Rich from Kamertunes pointed out, many of us have our musical guilty pleasures, here’s mine. I freely admit that back in the late 1970s, I liked the music of Billy Joel. I thought that “The Stranger” and “52nd Street” were both good albums and they led me to find an album that I thought was even better than those, “Piano Man.” The title cut and “Captain Jack” from that album are my two favourite Billy Joel tunes. Then in 1980, he put out the “Glass Houses” album, which confirmed my belief that he had it in him to rock. Therefore, I was pretty optimistic when I heard about his 1982 album, “The Nylon Curtain.”
This album takes Billy in a totally different direction. It’s not a rock out like “Glass Houses” but he doesn’t sit behind the piano on every song like the albums before that one. In fact, he plays other keyboard type instruments and has more musicians behind him in making the album. The result for me was quite interesting.
“The Nylon Curtain is yet again another album from 1982 that begins with its best known single. I’ve always liked “Allentown” because of the use of the acoustic guitar and what the song is about. Back in the early 1980s, factories, mines and other types of manual industry were being closed down resulting in unemployment soaring to over 10%. Many Americans felt that the American Dream had ended and this song is a good tribute to those who suffered during those times. I’m tempted to go political here but I won’t and if you listen to the lyrics of the song, you will see what I mean.
While it might not be guitar rock, there are some rocking moments on “The Nylon Curtain.” One of these is certainly “Goodnight Saigon.” That song not only rocks but it is the second song that year which paid tribute to the Vietnam Veterans. “Still in Saigon” by the Charlie Daniels Band was the first. “Pressure” is a good new wave type song where Billy goes wild on the keyboards. He does deliver on that one. The hidden surprise for me on this album has to be “Surprises” (no pun intended.) This starts like it is going to be a traditional Billy Joel tune but he does go in a rock direction on it. I can’t fault any of the other songs on the album even if they don’t stand out as much as the ones mentioned.
4. Goodnight Saigon
5. She’s Right on Time
6. A Room of Our Own
8. Scandinavian Skies
9. Where’s The Orchestra
Billy Joel- vocals, piano, organ synthesizers, Synclavier II
David Brown- lead guitar
Dominic Cortese- accordion
Liberty De Vitto- drums, percussion
Eddie Daniels- saxophone and clarinet
Russell Javors- rhythm guitar
Charles McCracken- cello
Rob Mounsey- synthesizer on “Scandinavian Skies”
Doug Stegmeyer- bass
Bill Zampino- field snare on “Goodnight Saigon”
For me, this would be the last good album from Billy Joel. He would sell out with his next album and I wouldn’t take him seriously after that. All of the Billy Joel albums before this one were good and showed his musical ability. It’s just a shame that he would settle for being popular.
Next post: Bruce Springsteen- Nebraska
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