52nd Street

52nd Street

by Billy JoelBilly Joel


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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. Often, his moves sounded as if they were responses to Steely Dan -- indeed, his phrasing and melody for "Zanzibar" is a direct homage to Donald Fagen circa The Royal Scam, and it also boasts a solo from jazz great Freddie Hubbard à la Steely Dan -- but since Joel is a working-class populist, not an elitist college boy, he never shies away from big gestures and melodies. Consequently, 52nd Street unintentionally embellishes the Broadway overtones of its predecessor, not only on a centerpiece like "Stiletto," but when he's rocking out on "Big Shot." That isn't necessarily bad, since Joel's strong suit turns out to be showmanship -- he dazzles with his melodic skills and his enthusiastic performances. He also knows how to make a record. Song for song, 52nd Street might not be as strong as The Stranger, but there are no weak songs -- indeed, "Honesty," "My Life," "Until the Night," and the three mentioned above are among his best -- and they all flow together smoothly, thanks to Ramone's seamless production and Joel's melodic craftsmanship. It's remarkable to think that in a matter of three records, Joel had hit upon a workable, marketable formula -- one that not only made him one of the biggest-selling artists of his era, but one of the most enjoyable mainstream hitmakers. 52nd Street is a testament to that achievement.

Product Details

Release Date: 03/01/2004
Label: Imports
UPC: 5099749118522
catalogNumber: 900743
Rank: 5379

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Billy Joel   Primary Artist,Harmonica,Piano,Keyboards,Vocals
Steve Khan   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
David Friedman   Percussion,Chimes,Orchestral Chimes
Ralph MacDonald   Percussion
Ray Simpson   Vocals,Background Vocals
David Nadien   Concert Master
Richie Cannata   Organ,Clarinet,Keyboards,Saxophone,Wind
Peter Cetera   Vocals,Background Vocals
Donnie Dacus   Vocals,Background Vocals
Liberty DeVitto   Percussion,Drums
Babi Floyd   Vocals,Background Vocals
Robert Freedman   Horn
Eric Gale   Guitar,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals
Milt Grayson   Vocals,Background Vocals
Freddie Hubbard   Trumpet
Russell Javors   Guitar
Mike Mainieri   Percussion,Marimbas,Vibes
George Marge   Recorder,Sopranino,Soprano Recorder,Sopranino Recorder
Hugh McCracken   Acoustic Guitar,Guitar (Nylon String)
Zachary Sanders   Vocals,Background Vocals
David Spinozza   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Doug Stegmeyer   Bass,Bass Guitar,Background Vocals
Dave Brown   Guitar
Frank Floyd   Vocals,Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Billy Joel   Composer,Producer
Jim Boyer   Engineer,Remixing
Dave Grusin   Orchestration,Horn Arrangements
Don DeVito   Reissue Producer
Robert Freedman   Orchestration,Horn Arrangements,String Arrangements
Phil Ramone   Producer,Remixing
John Berg   Cover Design
Stephen Saper   Engineer
John Naatjes   Tape Research

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