Title - 'Streetlife Serenade: Numbered Lmtd Ed. SACD'
Artist - Billy Joel
I've always been a HUGE fan of Billy Joel - although, in truth, I don't know if I should have been! Allow me to explain. He had just played Wembley Arena in England and the very next day, with me wearing my Billy Joel tour tshirt from that very same night before, I was at London Zoo with my grandmother. And there before us was Christine Brinkley, tentatively watching as their young child rode a small horse. Billy Joel was standing right behind them both, saw me, noticed the tour tshirt, and walked off! I caught up with him, asked him for a photograph, he refused, I said I'd paid to see him the night before, purchased the tshirt he saw before him, etc. but he said that he didn't want to get recognized that day and waved goodbye!
Anyway, moving on, as I myself had to that day, Streetlife Serenade was Joel's third studio album. The American singer-songwriter may well have only just gotten into his contract with Columbia Records (as this was his second for them), but - for my money, if nobody else's - he was firing on all musical cylinders, that's for sure.
Released on October 11th, 1974 - and well before we had our run in at London Zoo - Joel's follow-up effort to 1973's Piano Man, Streetlife Serenade, however, did not enjoy the relative success of its predecessor. Having had some bad moments with the press around that time, Joel even wrote a song about the entertainment industry. A mockingly, undercutting tune, 'The Entertainer' (which peaked at #34 on the US Singles Chart) is still known to all his fans as being the first of his lyrically tantrums!
Streetlife Serenade itself peaked at only #35 on the US Album Chart, eventually selling over one million copies. The album contains two songs that were featured in many of Joel's live shows during the 1970s: the instrumental 'Root Beer Rag' and the short song 'Souvenir,' which Joel often played as the final encore during that time period. Two others, the album opener 'Streetlife Serenader' and the track that follows that, 'Los Angelenos,' were both also included on Joel's first live album, Songs in the Attic (1981).
Although I wouldn't advise first time buyers to purchase this album, as it does not fit the commercial mold that was to follow, Streetlife Serenade is still a truly fine collection of artistic songs by a rapidly progressing singer/songwriter. Indeed, if you like that idiom you will probably benefit from Streetlife Serenade and it's follow up Turnstiles, another of my personal favorites. For now though, and here on 2-Channel CD Stereo, SACD Stereo and SACD Surround Sound, enjoy the fruits of a man so bitterly underrated on this album that it must make him smile to know now what the future held for him then!
Producers: Michael Stewart & Billy Joel
4.0 Quad Remix Engineer Don Young
4.0 Analog to Hi Def DSD Digital Tranfer: Gus Skinas
Stereo CD and SACD Mastering: Kevin Gray
CD Purchase Link