Review Summary: Proves to be another good, if still relatively unimposing example of what Joel is best-known for.
By the time Billy Joel had experienced the success of Piano Man
, he had already gotten a prime taste of the music industry. And like a fair number of other artists, his reaction couldn't exactly be argued as entirely and positively content. Disagreements and frustrations with studios would come to influence what would show in a few songs for his upcoming releases. Thus, listeners were given a slightly more rebellious nature to the then-recent sensation of Joel with his third album, Streetlife Serenade
All that one needs for a perfect taste of how the young, angst-filled musician felt is a listen to "The Entertainer" and the accompanying lyrics. While other tracks exhibit a more or less bitter tone, this song definitely sees the peak of what Joel attempted to express. And as it turns out, the highly fueled and frantic nature helps make said song sound lively and vivid. In fact, between the almost back-to-back ordering of "The Entertainer" and the classic, fast-piano instrumental "Root Beer Rag," the rest of the album can begin to sound dull. Quite a few songs here are on a slower pace than what audiences likely expected after Piano Man
, with a calm Sunday afternoon vibe embodying them.
Make no mistake, however, for Streetlife Serenade
isn't in short supply of the style of tracks which Joel has probably written about more than any other: the ladies. "Roberta" and even "Los Angelenos" can be taken in this light, both of which feel like siblings next to each other. That is, the music is fairly relaxed, upbeat (even when slow) and sung with a mildly romantic voice. Much of the rest of the album falls into a similar mold, which is found during these two points. Granted, some exhibit this better than others, including "Last of the Big Time Spenders" and opening track, "Streetlife Serenader" by the time it builds up. Really, Streetlife Serenade
turns out to be a mix of songs which either feel fitting for a leisurely afternoon, or at a bar (namely during a karaoke night).
Billy Joel doesn't make much progress from Piano Man
to this album. If anything, one might say that the highlights of the former overshadow what's present here. A couple more rebellious moments than usual aside, this is essentially the Piano Man doing what he does most comfortably. As such, it's a very basic and easy album to pinpoint; one that's best for casual listeners.