We end 1978 with the #1 selling album of 1979, the next release from Billy Joel, “52nd Street”. Like his other albums, this record continues his love affair with New York City. Like “The Stranger”, this is Billy Joel at what I consider to be his peak, and is another fantastic album. I also recall this record as a part of my Mom’s late-era record collection.
Side one opens with three massive hits for Joel. The first, “Big Shot”, is a raucous look back at a friend whose life has gotten a bit excessive in every way. Next comes his painfully accurate ballad “Honesty”, which is somewhat of a pragmatic sequel to “She’s Always a Woman”. Next we have another TV theme song, where a cover version of “My Life” was used as the intro for “Bosom Buddies”, the world’s introduction to Tom Hanks. All three of these first tracks are guaranteed placement on any Billy Joel Greatest Hits playlist.
Next comes “Zanzibar”, which evolves into a very unexpected jazz blend, featuring Freddie Hubbard on trumpet. Side two isn’t quite as hit-laden, but all of it is good Billy Joel. Each of the five songs are different in style and sound, and I would say my favorite of all of them is the last track, which is also the title track. I also really liked “Rosalinda’s Eyes” and “Until the Night”, which builds into a really nice chorus. Overall, this is definitely tied with “The Stranger” as my personal favorite, and the trilogy of his best albums comes shortly after.