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Music Review: Billy Joel – An Innocent Man

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An Innocent Man was everything his last release, The Nylon Curtain, was not. It was populated with catchy, upbeat songs containing wonderful harmonies. It was and is a great listen from the first track to the last. It was also a huge commercial success, selling ten million copies in North America alone and spawning an amazing six hit singles.

While this release contains original material it was, in fact, a tribute album. Billy Joel would honor the artists and styles of music that had influenced him since his childhood.

My personal favorite is the Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons type song, “Uptown Girl.” The lyrics are about a working class Joe and the upper-class girl which looked ahead to his marriage to model Christie Brinkley. It has a wonderful fifties doo-wop feel that is just pop music at its best.

“Tell Her About It," a Number One hit single, is bright and catchy, its music video making for one of the most amusing of all time, complete with a parody of The Ed Sullivan show.

With a divorce in his past and another marriage on the horizon, “An Innocent Man” is a song about another try at love. It contains one of the purest vocals of his career and shows whatal a wonderful voice he possessed at this point in his life.

That voice was also put to good use on “The Longest Time.” The style was another tribute to doo-wop as he recorded his vocals over and over again, joining them together into a virtual choir. The song is almost a cappella as there is only a bass and some odd percussion.

“Leave A Tender Moment Alone” should resonate with males everywhere as it deals with the fear of approaching girls. Any guy who has screwed up the courage to ask for a date and been rejected can relate to this song. 

“Keeping The Faith” is the perfect album closer as it sums up the musical thesis. He has indeed kept the faith and his musical roots alive.

An Innocent Man remains an album of fun and enjoyment, a contrast from the a more introspective styles on his subsequent releases. These songs are rarely played by Joel in concert, which may be a combination of the production making the music (and particularly the vocals) difficult to replicate and the fact that his future wife who played an important part in its inspiration is now gone. It remains an album well worth seeking out for no other reason than just to hear some good music.

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