Review Summary: Joel begins to progress, releasing one of his most triumphant albums.
The early 70's were primarily a solidification period for Billy Joel and his musical career. Even though differences between his first three studio releases were clear, all of them showed a generally relaxed and melodic nature. This easygoing approach was put forward even more thanks to Joel's delicate, yet enthusiastic piano-playing and his even more resoundingly unique voice. While certainly captivating listeners on his earlier works, it wasn't until 1976's Turnstiles
that Joel seemed to have found his niche, carrying it out for an entire album. It's a shame then, that it appears to be one of his less recognized works.
Trying to pinpoint and describe just what makes Turnstiles
so different that it stands higher than its predecessors isn't easy, since it's very similar to the said albums. The more relaxed nature and mood of Cold Spring Harbor
is persistently present, mostly broken up by "Prelude," a bit of a successor to "Root Beer Rag." Serving to compliment this stylistic return is the fact most of the songs clock in around five minutes, which helps the music feel more naturally elaborated. And despite the runtime being less than thirty-five minutes, a lot of ground is actually covered between the eight tracks.
Another difference that likely plays into Turnstiles
' superiority is that Joel himself was the producer for the album; rather than Michael Stewart on Piano Man
and Streetlife Serenade
. As said, the music is still very much like its predecessors. However, the best of those works seem to have found their way together on Turnstiles
; as noted above. Whether peaked and exemplified by the beautiful opening minutes to "I've Loved These Days," or the equally entrancing seconds leading into the superb, catchy closer "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)," having Joel at the helm of his own album really paid off here.
Though still a hit and success, Turnstiles
appears to have become disregarded when mentioned as among Billy Joel's more notable albums. Yet we're treated to exactly what his previous albums were missing: consistent excellence. Even if "All You Wanna Do Is Dance" feels a little too much like the lower points on Piano Man
, any open-minded listener, whether avid or casual, really can't go wrong with the entire release. Truly one of Joel's most commendable releases to-date.