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Music Review: Billy Joel – The Bridge

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I have to admit up front that The Bridge is not one of my favorite Billy Joel albums. While it contains three strong tracks and one very good one, the rest of the material falls into the average range, which means not terrible but rather just ordinary, which is not what I expected from him at this point in his career.

This was his first studio release in three years but sandwiched in between was his Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II collection, which sold a staggering 21 million copies in the United States. It was a hard act to follow and, consequently, people had become used to hearing his very best material. And so this album paled in comparison.

The Bridge is a far cry from his last studio effort, An Innocent Man. The simplicity of that album is left behind and now his music appears to be in transition, making this release one of the least cohesive of his career.

Still, when Billy Joel is good he is very good. “A Matter Of Trust” is as strong as anything in his catalog. Now remarried with a daughter, he celebrates his new family in this joyous rocker. This hit single may have been overplayed at the time yet it has aged well. “Big Man On Mulberry Street” is my favorite song from this album. It has a jazzy, big band feel and covers musical ground I wish he could have explored a little more over the years. “Baby Grand” is a love song to a piano and what makes the track unique is the duet with Ray Charles, one of Joel's idols.

“This Is The Time” is almost as good as the first three. It is a catchy piano and guitar based song that contains an emotional vocal.

The other five tracks do not work as well. “Running On Ice” is frenetic and never really gets into a groove. “Modern Woman”, which was also issued on the Ruthless People soundtrack, was a Top Ten single but sounds very 80’s and dated today. “Code Of Silence” is interesting for Cyndi Lauper's involvement but not much else. “Temptation” is a ballad that does not compare with his best work and “Getting Closer” finishes the album on a mundane note.

The Bridge has some high points that are worth savoring but overall it's one of Billy Joel's weaker albums. There are a lot better places to visit when exploring his music.

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