River Of Dreams

Billy Joel

Columbia Records, 1993

http://www.billyjoel.com/

REVIEW BY: Scott Floman

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/01/1998

Containing a few standout tracks, some anonymous filler, and a couple of cheesy failures, River Of Dreams was a popular album that ranks in the middle of the pack of Joel's albums. "No Man's Land" and "Blonde Over Blue" feature thumping beats and catchy vocals, but "The Great Wall Of China," "A Minor Variation," and "Shades Of Grey" alternate from annoying to boring to annoying again.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The best songs here are the ones you're probably the most familiar with. "All About Soul" is a keeper, and since it became the Knicks theme song late in '94 it always reminds me of the Knicks - Rockets Finals, Olajuwon versus Ewing (TKO by Olajuwon, outclassing his counterpart, with the real haymaker being landed by John Starks, whose unconscionable 2-17 from downtown in Game 7 cost the Knicks the game and the championship). As for the song itself, lines like "she gives me all the tenderness and takes away my pain" don't carry quite the same weight these days since he divorced the person those words lovingly spoke about soon afterwards (Christine Brinkley, obviously). It's still a catchy tune with a great chorus, and the aptly titled ballad "Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)," and "Two Thousand Years" are pretty evocations of love. The title track is a fun doo wop number whose similarity to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" (famous post The Lion King) can be overlooked, again proving that Joel always was more successful at harking back to past musical styles than trying (too hard) to stay current.

Another theme that hangs heavily over this album is Joel's legal battles with his former brother-in-law, who stole money from him. This caused Joel considerable financial hardship, at least as far as millionaire rockers are concerned (luckily, Joel's subsequent tour with fellow piano king Elton John was a huge success, easing his burden). Lines like "these days its harder to say I know what I'm fighting for" tellingly show the loss of faith the whole ordeal has wrought upon him. Unfortunately, the too often pedestrian songs on this album show that Joel's personal troubles took their toll on his musical inspiration.

Rating: B-

User Rating: B


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