Billy Joel
The Stranger


5.0
classic

Review

by Xenorazr CONTRIBUTOR (120 Reviews)
June 16th, 2011 | 29 replies


Release Date: 1977 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Stranger is a staple. He is timeless.

Coming off the excellent Turnstiles, Billy Joel had a lot to live up to for what would be its successor. Not much time would bridge the gap between these two albums (less than a year and a half). But as eager listeners in 1977 soon found out, less time per album does not mean inherent inferiority. In fact, this successor would prove to do a better job justifying not just the success that's followed Joel, (both before and after its release) but also the genre(s) he long-performed within. It wouldn't just be a commercial and critical hit that outshone its predecessors, but an indefinitely masterful collection of music. Ladies and gentlemen, meet The Stranger.

Much like Turnstiles before it, The Stranger has a lot in-common with its predecessors. One of the many key strengths and reasons for Joel's success has been the narrative in his lyrics, which has frequently shone through even the less-successful tracks. And though his previous (and subsequent) works were certainly great indications of this, the tales we're told in The Stranger are sung and played so much more beautifully than before. Joel and company truly took initiative when mixing pianos, saxophones, flutes, organs, tubas and more to make for irresistible combinations throughout. One reason all this stands out so much in The Stranger, compared to its predecessors, is that each track is given dedicated treatment. Unlike Piano Man, which was sparsely adorned by these points, every song from "Moving Out (Anthony's Song)" through "Everybody Has a Dream" is caressed by delicate production and wonderful performances. This is to say that each moment is more-than distinguishable from the next.

Though not a concept album, The Stranger definitely feels like one. The songs have an incredibly fluent vibe between each other, with shifts in how slow or upbeat a song might be feeling both natural and appropriate. Each song has been proclaimed as having its own story to tell, but the themes are consistent and persistent from one to the next; creating a wonderful balance through the moods. This is further reinforced by how a perfect mix of pop, rock, blues and jazz are implemented; whether light or prominent.

Because of all its strengths being equally shared and making the album perfectly well-rounded, picking out The Stranger's best points is rather challenging, to say the least. Both the title track and "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" are immediate callouts since they show Joel singing and playing in his utmost prime. Opener "Moving Out (Anthony's Song)" and "Only the Good Die Young" shows the side to Joel that casual listeners are probably most familiar with. That is, they're on the quicker and more fun side (in an up-front way). Even with all that said, the highest recommendation is to hear the album in its entirety.

There's good reason that The Stranger has been regarded by many as Billy Joel's magnum opus. The music is simply amazing and defining for both the respective artist and its genre. Like all true classics, however, no words can truly do justice to this album. Most of Joel's albums up to the point of The Stranger's release do justice to what he's best known for, but if there's one that shows him at his very best, it's this.



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user ratings (355)
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
Brendan Schroer (5)
Classic rock songwriting and lyricism at its finest....

themightyquinn23 (5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
June 17th 2011


1439 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Rating probably isn't a surprise. But reviewing and justifying an album I consider "perfect" is quite the challenge.

balcaen
June 17th 2011


3183 Comments


i appreaciate how you're making the tedious journey to review his discography (?)
this fucking rules though. definitely one of my favorite artists as far as classics go

EyesWideShut
June 17th 2011


5125 Comments


yea props for the reviews. I grew up on and saw Billy live a couple years ago. good dude. attack-ack-ack-ack-ack !!

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
June 17th 2011


1439 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I'm jealous, would love to see him live. A couple of my family members actually saw him with Elton John some time ago. That would've been amazing.

EyesWideShut
June 17th 2011


5125 Comments


yea billy puts alot of effort in his live shows to this day. he rocked for like 2 1/2 straight. i think he still tours ever couple years so keep ur eyes open.

Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
June 17th 2011


56928 Comments


I wonder if Billy Joel gives himself the stranger?

Digging: Daniel Johnston - Songs of Pain

Spare
June 17th 2011


5567 Comments


album is my childhood. still have this on vinyl. not particularly a fan of his now.

BigHans
June 17th 2011


30281 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

album rules hard.



COME OUT VIRGINIA DONT LET ME WAIT



CATHOLIC GIRLS START MUCH TO LATE

omnipanzer
June 17th 2011


21825 Comments


Great write up, proper rating
Have a POS chum

A bottle of white, a bottle of red,
Perhaps a bottle of rosé instead.
We'll get a table near the street
In our old familiar place

Parallels
August 16th 2011


8858 Comments


The title song's guitar riff can make any other look like crap.

eggsvonsatan
August 16th 2011


1087 Comments


Billy Joel makes me want to kill babies.

DivergentThinking
March 25th 2017


6226 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

best album ever

SandwichBubble
March 25th 2017


10103 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

:3

Digging: A Witness - Red Snake

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
March 25th 2017


18919 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Worst best album ever actually

Digging: Doopees - Doopee Time

DivergentThinking
March 25th 2017


6226 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is actually my favorite album of all time, and has been for about 3-4 years now

Sunnyvale
March 25th 2017


1157 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album rules hard.

jtswope
April 5th 2017


5788 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah it's a masterpiece.

DivergentThinking
December 27th 2017


6226 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

My fave

SandwichBubble
April 7th 2018


10103 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Every time I listen to this, I want to book a flight to JFK

Dylan620
August 13th 2018


4985 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" is hnnnnnggg



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