Pianists are seldom taken seriously in the world of rock ‘n roll. I don’t know what it is, but for some reason, after the likes of Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis ripped up the piano in the 1950s, the instrument has tended to have a hard time. I guess it’s seen as a safe choice, when compared to the ‘devil’s instrument’ of a guitar – with an air of respectability that you can never quite get away from.
Billy Joel will always be the American Elton John in my mind (or should that be Elton John as the English Billy Joel?) – they’re neighbours in the grand alphabet of rock ‘n roll – but I think he’s capable of so much more than the bespectacled Reg Dwight. Listening to a song like The Longest Time – a doo-wop classic, with vocals accompanied by nothing more than a bass guitar and a set of brushes – Joel sounds like he should have been recording music in the 1950s, not the 1980s. I’ve always had a soft-spot for We Didn’t Start The Fire, and even The River Of Dreams, as annoyingly catchy as it is, shows that if nothing else, he can write a decent melody line.
And still, no matter how guilty I feel listening to Billy Joel, I can always take pride in the fact that at least I’m not listening to Barry Manilow…
Hit: Uptown Girl
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