Billy Joel

Columbia, 1976


REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


By 1976, Billy Joel had finally come home. After attempting to make it out West and succeeding, he turned his back on the whole Hollywood culture and returned to New York. In a short span of time, Joel would reach unparalleled heights, but with Turnstiles he wasn’t there just yet.

As is expected of a Joel album, there are at least two songs that stand at the top if his work. On Turnstiles, they are “Say Goodbye To Hollywood,” and “Miami 2017 (I’ve Seen The Lights Go Down On Broadway).” The former is a brilliant recreation of Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” approach, and a scathing look at the whole California scene that bands such as the Eagles would deride and encompass in the very same year.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The latter has experienced a renaissance of sorts since 9/11, describing the destruction of New York City in various ways. A science fiction piece, it contains one of Joel’s most elegant piano lines and backing orchestration, with an incredibly hooky melody to boot. While not a full-fledged rocker, it contains more than enough energy to get one’s toes tapping.

Despite Turnstiles only containing seven tracks, at times it seems to be dragging on, which is not good a thing for such a short album. Even the other big hit off this record, “New York State Of Mind,” drags on much too long for what Joel wants to say. Now, the stately, emotive “New York…” does prove its worth to a degree; however, I can’t say that for some of the other tracks.

“All You Wanna Do Is Dance” is essentially an earlier, inferior version of “Keeping The Faith,” and despite Joel’s best efforts it never really establishes a groove. “James” goes a wholly different route, settling on a soft and wimpy pop mood without a worthy melody.

Mention must be made of the sleeper track, “Summer Highland Falls.” This track is pure brilliance, easily one of Joel’s best ballads to date. Its flowing, effortless melody is thing of beauty, and Joel’s vocals convey its delicate nature perfectly. Newcomer fans to Joel should definitely give this one a shot.

Turnstiles has its ups and it has its downs. However, it does set the stage for The Stranger, Joel’s big time break into the mainstream. So with that in mind, and considering the great tracks to be found on the record, it’s worth at least a listen or two.

Rating: B-

User Rating: A-


I don't like to bag out other people's opinions very often but I need to respond to some of the crap that the above reviewer has shitted out. New York state of Mind drags on??? Try telling that to any New Yorker. That song is the greatest thing ever written. And as for saying that the album drags on, what drugs were you on. If anything it gets better as it goes on and keeps you wanting more. Don't forget Angry Young Man!!!! This is still a staple of his live shows and totally rocks everytime it's played. At least credit is given with Summer Highland Falls, one of the best piano pieces of his career. I can't pick a favourite song from this album, it's all brilliant. Seriously do yourself a favour and buy it.

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