Friday, June 17, 2011

The #54 Album of All-Time in the Rock Era: "An Innocent Man" by Billy Joel

We already heard 52nd Street from Billy Joel.  The Long Island native checks in again with another album in the Top 100 for All-Time in the Rock Era.

Joel has always been impressive in changing musical styles and sounds.  No two of his songs sound alike; he's a very unique writer in that way.  On this album, Joel pays homage to the music of his childhood and made it sound fresh.

An Innocent Man was the ninth studio album by Joel.  It reached #4 on the album chart, not outstanding but you might want to stay away from any album ranking that goes solely by chart information.  It is important, but isn't everything.  The key to analyzing chart information is not the peak (and those for songs as well) but how it did against what kind of competition?  In this case, keep in mind that the album went against Synchronicity by the Police and Thriller from Michael Jackson.  Those are a couple of tough customers.  Then, you look at weeks in the Top 10.  It didn't hit the top, but then did it turn around and go south or did it hang around?  This album did--29 weeks in the Top 10 and 111 on the chart (over 2 years).  You realize that despite peaking at #4, it was one of the top albums of the time and one of the tops of the year.  Then, you look at that since it was popular, it has continued to sell, now over 7 million copies.  And you consider the airplay of songs from the album.

Three Top 10 singles and 7 released kept this album in the forefront of listener's minds.  "Tell Her About It" was #1, "Uptown Girl" and the title track were the others to go Top 10.  "The Longest Time", "Leave a Tender Moment Alone", "Keeping the Faith" and "This Night" were also released.  That is lots of airplay and exposure for An Innocent Man.  Those singles go a long way in giving the album a Track Rating* of 9.1.

Another thing going for it is that it was nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards, losing to Thriller.

An Innocent Man:
(All songs by Billy Joel; the chorus on "This Night" is credited to L.V. Beethoven.)

Side one
1.  "Easy Money" (Homage to James Brown) --4:04
2.  "An Innocent Man" (Homage to Ben E. King and the Drifters) --5:17
3.  "The Longest Time" (Homage to doo-wop) --3:42
4.  "This Night" (Homage to doo-wop) --4:19
5.  "Tell Her About It" (Homage to Motown) --3:52

Side two
1.  "Uptown Girl" (Homage to Franki Valli & the 4 Seasons) --3:17
2.  "Careless Talk" (Homage to Sam Cooke) --3:48
3.  "Christie Lee" (Homage to Jerry Lee Lewis) --3:31
4.  "Leave a Tender Moment Alone" (Homage to Marvin Gaye) --3:56
5.  "Keeping the Faith" (Homage to Bob Marley) --4:41

Joel played a Baldwin acoustic piano on the album, in addition to a Fender Rhodes and a Hammond B-3.  Russell Javos played electric, acoustic and rhythm guitar, David Brown was on electric, acoustic and lead, Doug Stegmeyer was the bassist and Liberty DeVitto was the drummer.  Mark Rivera played alto and tenor sax and percussion, Ralph MacDonald played percussion, Leon Pendarvis played a Hammond B-3, Richard Tee played piano on "Tell Her About It", Eric Gale contributed electric guitar work on "Easy Money", the group String Fever did the strings on the album, Ronnie Cuber played baritone sax, the great David Sanborn played alto sax, Michael Brecker played tenor sax, Jon Faddis and John Gatchell and Joe Shepley were on trumpet.  "Toots" Thielemans played the harmonica solo on "Leave a Tender Moment Alone" while Rivera played the alto sax solo on "Keeping the Faith", "This Night" and Christie Lee".  Tom Bahler, Rory Dodd, Frank Floyd, Lani Groves, Ullanda McCullough, Ron Taylor, Terry Textor, Eric Troyer and Mike Alexander sang backing vocals.

The album was recorded in the Spring of 1983 at Chelsea Sound and A&R Recording in New York City; it was mixed at A&R and mastered at the high-quality Sterling Sounds in New York.  Phil Ramone produced An Innocent Man, the engineers were Jim Boyer and Bradshaw Leigh; Ted Jensen mastered the album.  Gilles Larrain provided photography and Christopher Austopchuk and Mark Larson did the cover design.  It was released August 8, 1983 on Columbia Records.

Billy Joel places a second album in The Top 100 Albums*--at #54, An Innocent Man.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.