The Bridge

Billy Joel

Columbia, 1986

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Longtime readers of the Daily Vault know that I have never given a damn what anyone else thinks about an album. That said, when we decided to do a William Joel retrospective, I dug myself out from under a pile of work and grabbed my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Bridge, an album that has been ignored, dismissed and vilified by most self-anointed rock cognoscenti (kind of like Mr. Joel himself. But I digress; that's a rant for another time).

Another music Web site that shall remain nameless has this to say about The Bridge: “You could say that it's eclectic, but it's scattershot, because it's just Joel showing off his musical skills.” My response to that is: So what? Not every album has to be a weighty musical tome full of overwhelming meaning and portent. To paraphrase Sigmund Freud, sometimes music is just music. And The Bridge is a pretty fine piece of work viewed in those lights.

I will cheerfully admit The Bridge is Joel playing around, stretching his limits, experimenting a bit. He checks in as Billy Joel, Rock Guitarist on “A Matter Of Trust” and comes up with a hook big enough to troll for sperm whales. He duets with Ray Charles on “Baby Grand” and it's a masterpiece, showing off Joel's vocal stylings and piano playing.

Even the normally yodeling Cyndi Lauper checks in on “Code of Silence” and manages to sound, if not exemplary, at least acceptable. Add in the wordplay of “Running On Ice” and the wide-screen big band song of “Big Man On Mulberry Street” and this is just a fun CD. Joel is relaxed, playing it easy, playing around, and it shows. It's hard not to enjoy this CD, the satisfaction is so infectious.

Some people will try to turn this into a political statement or compare it unfavorably to the Angry Young Man earlier in Joel's career. I'd rather just enjoy it. The Bridge is a testament to Joel the songwriter and it's a heck of a lot of fun. Don't overlook it and don't buy the critical hype.

Rating: A-

User Rating: A


Well said Duke. This album has too long been shitted on by reviewers. Do these people actually listen to the music or just the commercial ability of an album. Sure most of this album wouldn't suit the run of the mill radio play that we get used to, but listen to songs like Big Man on Mulberry Street and you're taken away to another place. This album has long been a favourite of mine and will continue to be a favourite to sit down and play these songs on the piano.

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