As we discuss on the show 1977 was quite a year. Disco was a force in pop music. Punk music was bubbling up from the underground. A little regarded film called ‘Star Wars’ was changing Hollywood for better and worse introducing us all to concept of a true ‘summer blockbuster’. Somehow, against the odds, Billy Joel managed to get a foothold into the public consciousness with his fifth album ‘The Stranger’.
It’s hard to imagine nowadays (as Joel is currently listed as the third-best selling solo artist of all-time in the US) but prior to the release of ‘The Stranger’ it was touch-and-go as to whether Billy Joel would continue to have a music career. He’d had two songs scrape the Top 40 on his first four releases (‘Piano Man’ and ‘The Entertainer’ respectively), but he’d hardly established himself as a radio juggernaut.
1977 – the Year of the Stranger
Then something magical happened. He got with a producer who knew how to get the best out of him and his road band in Phil Ramone. He also wrote a batch of really good songs that translated from the live environment (where they had always excelled) to the studio as he spun off four songs that would go on to be radio staples even to this day (“Just the Way You Are”, “Anthony’s Song (Movin’ Out)”, “She’s Always A Woman” and “Only the Good Die Young”) and help the record go on to sell over 10 million units (making it a Diamond-selling album) and make Billy Joel an international superstar.
Not only did it produce those radio staples but he also had some fan favorites on there as well in the title track, the lovely “Vienna”, and his concert favorite and showstopper, “Songs From An Italian Restaurant”. A far as album’s go this one really is a classic and arguably his most consistent release in a career that is riddled with highlights.
First Dandy review from the ’70s
So join the Dandy classic duo Dan and Randy as we review our first album from the 1970’s to date and talk about how this album has made an impression on each of our lives. For Dan, who would study the cover of the album and wonder what untold secrets lied behind the inscrutable meaning, it was an album that would give him a divine message at a crossroads in his life.
For Randy, it would be a reassessment of an album that’s been part of his life since he can remember and a deeper appreciation for an artist he has always taken for granted. So get your pet rocks, bell-bottoms and New York Yankees gear as we get to know the ‘Stranger’ in us all.