This album was inducted in "Rolling Stone's Top 500 Albums" at position 356. Once "The Stranger"
became a hit, Billy Joel quickly re-entered the studio with producer Phil Ramone to record the follow-up, "52nd Street"
. Instead of breaking from the sound of The Stranger, Joel chose to expand it, making it more sophisticated and somewhat jazzy. This is Billy Joel's 6th studio album in his first 7 years.
This album got commerical hits like "My Life" and "Honesty", the album also won 2 prestegious grammy awards in 1979, it won "Album Of The Year"
and also won "Best Pop Vocal Performance/Male"
. It also has it's critic's praise on how classy the album is but they say the downhill is that it doesn't love up to the breakthrough album before this, "The Stranger".
All songs written and composed by Billy Joel
starts the album on a very demanding note of targeting arrogance and cockiness. with a guitar riff that has great power and some driving drums. The vocals are more powerful with some perfect guitaring which is the only guitar driven song in the whole set. The chorus is broken down to a more crashing cymbal part with some catchy usage of words. The solo on guitar sounds very demanding to the vocals and it ends the song really well. This is another great song.
is a ballad that has beauty not just by vocals, but mostly by it's lyrics. The lyrics point out that lies hurt feelings and honesty is not even heard of before. The song really puts that message across with it's vocal ability to make you wonder and the piano that brings that serious mode on to your ears. I can't stretch enough that the beauty of the song and the powerful and emotional voice that Joel has got to sing this song. This song is terrific and should be an International song of some sort. Seriously.
starts off with tuneful start with some great bass lines and a great electrical piano. This song is more pop than the recent ones which signals a great change in Joel's style of songwriting so this album will be more mainstream. The vocals are excellent with some great technique (it also features Peter Cetera of Chicago as background vocals) on it and the lyrics are obviously about his life and how he started his successful career. When the music picks up, it gets you more indulged into the song with some sliding guitar in the background. The song is already a highlight of this volume so this is an excellent song. Also a well known Joel song.
starts very jazzy with some very classy piano and very bassy sound that really brings alive the jazz scene. Billy's vocals on this song is very strong and arty with some very jumpy vocal work and sometimes emotional vocals as well. The chorus is very fun as it consists of brief chords that are fast on the piano and Billy singing very seriously. The music on this song is the arty part as it lives up to the jazz scene but on the bridge, it becomes more mellow and relaxing with some angelic keyboards and some trumpet work that makes it sound more sophisticated. The ending of the song is again jazzy with some frantic beating on the ride cymbal and some amazing trumpet. This is one arty/jazzy song that really leaves you for more from Billy, an excellent song.
is a very jazzy song but at the start, it is very soulful with some emotional clarinet playing but then instantly goes to a very jumpy theme. Billy's vocals are more of a happier note here and all about going with the flow. It is very slick and bluesy and it sounds so great. The song is about a woman who is very lustful and could be a maneater, even though "Stiletto" means a women's shoe with very, high narrow heels, it is referred to as daggers on heels so it is referred to the woman's personality, it is a play on words that really works magnificently. The chorus is so perfect with some emotional vocals and some nice music to go with it. One amazing jazz/blues song with a hint of emotion.
is back onto some emotional vocals and some very beautiful latin based music. This song is influenced by Cuba, Havana due to it's latin feel and lyrics referring to Havana itself. The song starts on a very dreamy music on the keyboard and then it gets to the verse when the amazing voice of Billy Joel gets to work to really light up the flavour of the song, the chorus keeps that very slick, ballad style of beautiful music and vocals. The cuban guitar in the background just adds more latin feel and the additional vocals on the chorus is just amazing. Billy even throws in a very classy recorder as a solo act, such a great climax to the song. This is another hidden classic by Billy Joel, shame he didn't release it, I reckon it would get so much praise at the time.
"Half A Mile Away"
puts us back onto the soulful scene but this time into a more pop scene with a hint of jazz. The music is very broadway but with a more pop feel to it, the vocals are very jazzy and energetic by Billy and again a very strong performance by him. The chorus is just great with some catchy drumming and the vocals is very direct but still keeping that informal sound to it. The background vocals add a more soulful feel to the song and it works so well for the song. The whole body of the song is just brilliant with it's energetic music and vocals that will surly keep you entertained for a while to come.
"Until The Night"
is back again to a ballad scene but this time, having a 50's/60's style to it. There is duet with Billy and someone else I don't know unfortunately. The song starts very powerful with some very beautiful vocals by both and the music is very flowing accompaning it. The song is rather slow for all the reasons to create such an amazing ballad and along the lines of Billy's best writings. The chorus is so emotional where you hear both singing so powerfully "Until The Night" with some amazing music with the orchestra. Evertime you listen to this song, it just gets better and better with it's classy and excellent vocals. The bridge plays down the climax to a more quiet sound and Billy singing solo and it sounds better than ever as it gets more emotional and when the other vocalist comes in it just brings the song alive again, it was always alive in the first place! The saxophone solo is very powerful and the song ends at a such a breathtaking climax after 6 minutes of glory. Just simply amazing stuff.
After a magnificent song, now comes the final track and it is very brief and very different to the recent song. "52nd Street"
brings us to a full proper jazz style with some beating drums and some bass work that pumps the song along. Billy's vocals are more raspy here and very jazzy, another amazing vocal performance. I reckon this is a great ending to the album with a great jazz song that has so much class on it and the song on it's own is very slick, it could have been a bit longer though.
--- The Overview ---
1. Big Shot - 5/5
2. Honesty - 5/5
3. My Life - 4.5/5
4. Zanzibar - 4.5/5
5. Stiletto - 5/5
6. Rosalinda's Eyes - 5/5
7. Half A Mile Away - 4.5/5
8. Until The Night - 5/5
9. 52nd Street - 4.25/5
Overall, the album is very classy, soulful and also very emotional at places. Starting with a powerful note and ending with a jazzy style, it shows the diversity of the album and how prestegious it is. The reason why this album was so successful is that nearly all the songs on here are just fantastic all the time and bring out most of Billy's best talent and music writing ability. After "The Stranger", this is Billy's 2nd best album off all 12 studio albums that Billy has done. 52nd Street is one of my favourite streets in music!
Final Rating: 5/5