- Album name: Streetlife Serenade
- Artist name: Billy Joel
- Year: 1974
- Number of discs: one
- Label: Columbia Records
- Collection: Selman
- Distinguishing characteristics:
- Top right corner of album clipped
- Track list sticker on front of album: Columbia Records / Demonstration Not For Sale
- Printed on both sides of LP: DEMONSTRATION / NOT FOR SALE
- Scratched into side one of LP: T1 PAL 33146-2E
- Scratched into side two of LP: T1 PBL 33146-2E
- Buy it on Amazon: $115.55
Level of familiarity before listening
I am not familiar with this record, but it will be my fourth by Billy Joel. The previous three were:
What I expected
Judging from the three Billy Joel records I’ve heard so far, it seems like his music tended to improve over the course of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Streetlife Serenade is from 1974, so maybe it won’t be very good.
What it was actually like
Much of this record was in a slow, boring, soft rock style that I think of as characteristic of Billy Joel (even though I liked An Innocent Man): Streetlife Serenader, The Great Suburban Showdown, Roberta and Souvenir, the last of which was the most boring song on the record. Last of the Big Time Spenders was similar to those, except it also had a bit of a country sound with some steel guitar.
I thought parts of Los Angelenos were quite strong. It was a rock song, but with a strong funk element, and I recognized it from Songs in the Attic, where I described it as “another ok rock song.” Weekend Song was also rock, but was too slow and had too much piano.
Root Beer Rag, an instrumental ragtime song, was the most unusual and best song on the record. I found it pretty fun, but also kind of throwaway gimmick. The Mexican Connection was also an instrumental and had a bit of a calypso sound, which I guess was mandatory in the mid 1970s.
There was a weird instrument in The Entertainer that I could not identify – flute-like, but electric. I also liked the banjo, and the song kind of reminded me of Piano Man (not in a good way). I would not say that it was a great song, but at least listening to it was interesting.
2/5: weak, but I was able to listen to the whole thing