Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Album of the Day #128: SONGS IN THE ATTIC - Billy Joel

Title: Songs In The Attic
Artist: Billy Joel
Label: Columbia
Year: 1981
Songs: Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)/Summer, Highland Falls/Streetlife Serenader/Los Angelenos/She's Got A Way/Everybody Loves You Now/Say Goodbye To Hollywood/Captain Jack/You're My Home/The Ballad Of Billy The Kid/I've Loved These Days
Written by: Billy Joel
Produced by: Phil Ramone
Thoughts: Some live albums are boring for a variety of reasons. The artist might be completely out of it, the recording might sound terrible after poor production, the spark that you get at a show might be missing or the track list might be a boring selection of hits. However, none of these apply to Songs In The Attic, which could hardly be called boring. On record, these songs are rather sterile, with Joel backed by a set of nameless studio musicians that he was forced to work with. Here, though, the songs are on fire. Joel is backed by his own band and they make songs like "Captain Jack" and "Miami 2017" more powerful than their rather drab counterparts on Piano Man and Turnstiles, respectively.
Joel is really one of those artists that feeds off the power of an audience, so most of these songs have a lot more energy than anything he could have recorded in the studio. Also, Phil Ramone did a great job of capturing the sound of the shows and the 1998 remastrered release makes you feel even closer to the stage.
The great thing about the record is that it's a lot more unique than other live LPs. The tracks are songs that he knew his new audience, the one that finally found out who he was with The Stranger, would be unfamiliar with. While he used it as a stop-gap release (between Glass Houses and The Nylon Curtain) he made it a lot more interesting than a hits collection or a boring live album with songs that his audience was familiar with. Overall, this is a great set and a live album that one probably should not be without.

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