Billy Joel
Piano Man


3.5
great

Review

by Kenneth E. Rathburn USER (71 Reviews)
June 13th, 2011 | 25 replies


Release Date: 1973 | Tracklist

Review Summary: When the Piano Man works to his strengths, he delivers like no other.

After dealing with the troubled release of Cold Spring Harbor, Billy Joel sought to provide a more settled and representative taste for his listeners. Piano Man would show the young, aspiring artist and his other, accompanying musicians in a different light than before. The sound became quicker and more generally commanding with equal variation on the subject matter. This sophomore release has since been regarded as among his best works and earned him a nickname taken directly from the album title. Yet the question isn't whether fame came with the album, but just how good it was, and if it withstands the test of time. Though Joel's second album might not be without a decent share of problems, the good news is that when it stands out, the music definitely impresses.

The most immediate area to address here are the well-acclaimed tracks, which also happen to be the longest songs. All three ("The Ballad of Billy the Kid," "Captain Jack" and the title track) work incredibly well and show just why this album has become such a hit. This is especially true in the title track, being emotionally driven and including an elegant, complimentary harmonica melody. Another reason these songs continue to hold up even today is thanks to the driven lyrics which are sung by Joel with much passion. Needless to say, these tracks don't have anything to worry about even further down the line.

But this is a full-length album with seven other songs that are up for evaluation, just like the aforementioned. And what must be stressed is that none of them, especially in their entirety, stand nearly as tall as the clear-cut classics. While we do get other, occasionally strong pieces, namely in "Somewhere Along the Line," "Stop In Nevada" and the intro to "You're My Home," even these hit a noticeably lower mark. Part of the reason they don't hit as well or hard is because they don't feel nearly as impassioned. Similarly, the shorter length seems to leave the songs feeling a bit more constrained and, in the case of parts such as "Ain't No Crime," unnatural.

A decent portion of the tracks also have a fairly upbeat and, for lack of a better term, quick-stiff rhythm. They might be better suited for playing at a party or even dancing to, but when critically analyzed they simply don't rise up incredibly high. They're far from bad and aren't nearly enough to ruin the album, but the overall flow becomes inconsistent and peculiar (not in a good way), as a result. If you want to get people hopping out of their seats, these shorter songs might do the trick. But when sitting down for a listening, they're too easy to skip.

Piano Man has the shortcoming of not flowing as smoothly as its predecessor. Regardless, it stands as a solid effort with three classic tracks already added to Joel's then-short catalogue. The album shows much progress from and more command than Cold Spring Harbor, but still leaves room for improvement. In the end, it's only occasionally magnificent, but has enough to prove that it's a sign for greater, successive work.



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user ratings (116)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenorazr
June 14th 2011


460 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

This has to be one of the most inconsistent albums of all time.

Deceptioneer
June 14th 2011


509 Comments


piano man the song has to be one of the greatest songs ever of all time.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
June 14th 2011


10614 Comments


Sweet I LOVE GREEN DAY

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io

Deceptioneer
June 14th 2011


509 Comments


wut

hmmmmmm
June 14th 2011


38 Comments


I wonder, if buzz osbourne was dead and skinny, would he look like this album cover?

AtavanHalen
June 14th 2011


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album fucking slays for days

omnipanzer
June 14th 2011


21621 Comments


I agree with your reasoning but not your rating. Can't wait to see what you put together for "The Stranger".

Digging: We Were Promised Jetpacks - Unravelling

BigHans
June 14th 2011


26454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Glad someone is doing a Joel discog. Title track is obviously timeless. Captain jack fucking owns

Maniac!
June 14th 2011


26250 Comments


Album rules

porch
June 14th 2011


8459 Comments


piano man the song has to be one of the greatest songs ever of all time.


lol

billy joel is the worst

BigHans
June 14th 2011


26454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

dude Porch come on you've never drunkenly sang along to that?

porch
June 14th 2011


8459 Comments


i'm sure i've drunkenly recoiled to it

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
June 14th 2011


15052 Comments


oh my god what is that cover ps yeah billy joel is no good

Maniac!
June 14th 2011


26250 Comments


Wtf

omnipanzer
June 14th 2011


21621 Comments


Robertsona and porch

respect -2
check

Emim
June 14th 2011


26646 Comments


sing us a song
you're the piano mannnnn

respect -2
check


and this

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
June 14th 2011


15052 Comments


oh come on what is there to like about this guy

porch
June 14th 2011


8459 Comments


i'm cool with that just allocate our music taste +50

omnipanzer
June 14th 2011


21621 Comments


no and you can't make me so there.

Robertsona... great song writing, great voice and some perfect period pieces... I don't know.

porch
June 14th 2011


8459 Comments


okay now what do you think of billy joel



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