Saturday, December 15, 2012


YEAR:  1982
LABEL:  Columbia
TRACK LISTING:  Allentown,  Laura,  Pressure,  Goodnight Saigon,  She's Right On Time,  A Room of Our Own,  Surprises,  Scandinavian Skies,  Where's the Orchestra
IMPRESSIONS:  It's the early Reagan years in America and Billy made an album about the bleak outlook for the American Dream that we would do better than our parents.  This album is one of Joel's personal favourites and he laboured over it more than any other album before.  It is a quite ambitious project in that it tackles many of the concerns of the early 1980s.  From the opening factory whistle, Joel announces the decline of the American steel industry and many other industries, in fact, with the anthemic "Allentown".  Coming only a year and a bit after the murder of John Lennon, "THEY NYLON CURTAIN" has its fair share of Beatles and particularly Lennonesque aspects; none more prominently than the terrifically Beatles-like "Laura" which is a more successful homage than the rather laboured "INNOCENT MAN" album to come later.  Joel's singing voice in "Scandinavian Skies" either consciously or unconsciously takes on a very John Lennon-like timbre and delivery; all this along with the drum riff from Paul Simon's "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover".  The dawning of the hedonistic consumerist paradise of the 1980s was already on Joel's mind in the sharp, biting wit of "Pressure".  The long-delayed acceptance of Vietnam veterans perhaps got it's primal start in the intensely moving "Goodnight Saigon".  "A Room of Our Own" sounds like a lost Elton John song; if you listen to this song and can't hear Elton John in every note you simply aren't familiar with Elton John.  I wonder why La Reg never covered it?  I suppose Elton figured that Billy Joel had already covered a song Elton himself had never even done so there was no need.  Or something.  "Surprises" is no doubt written about his wife Elizabeth as was "Just the Way You Are" but it is the antithesis of that earlier song in that it documents the messy break-up of that relationship in a Marvin Gaye-"Here, My Dear" juggular vein.  The album winds up with the melancholy "piano man" torch song "Where's the Orchestra" sitting alone back in the smoky piano bar after hitting all the stops through the land of the Nylon Curtain.
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  Allentown,  Laura,  Pressure,  Goodnight Saigon,  A Room of Our Own,  Surprises
FACT SHEET:  THE NYLON CURTAIN is Billy Joel's eighth album and was produced by Phil Ramone.  It is one of the first albums to be recorded, mixed and mastered entirely digitally.  The album was nominated for the Album of the Year Grammy Award.

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