Month: August 2019

Billy Joel – Piano Man

ARTIST: Billy Joel Billy_Joel_-_Piano_Man

TITLE: Piano Man

YEAR RELEASED: 1973

CHART ACTION: #27 US, #98 UK

SINGLES: Piano Man (#25 US, #136 UK), Worse Comes to Worst (#80 US), Travelin’ Prayer (#77 US), The Ballad of Billy the Kid

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Captain Jack

LINEUP: Billy Joel and the cream of the LA session crop at the time (Ron Tutt, Wilton Felder, Larry Carlton, etc.)

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After his disaster of a first album (in Quick Hitters), Joel catches a few breaks and gets a new deal, and hits on his first try.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It was a long couple of years for Billy Joel after his first album. Legal issues, tours, and a six month stint in LA grinding as a nightclub entertainer. But an appearance on WMMR, and at Mar Y Sol, got CBS interested and this album was the result after a couple of years of grinding it out.

The title track became the hit, and a few songs became standards, especially “Captain Jack”. After a rousing “Travelin’ Prayer”, and the hit, the album stalls out a bit, though the arrangements are varied. But the songs aren’t 100% all there until the end and “Captain Jack”.

Joel has a better backing band and production. Nothing is in the sad piano motif (for the most part), and it does what it meant to do – introduce Billy Joel to the public.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Joel played a set on WMMR that included the as-then-unrecorded “Captain Jack”, and that became a sensation in Philly, then New York, and then CBS got him.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, including the entire WMMR broadcast.

 

GRADE B: Joel throws a lot out there, stylistically, and some sticks.

Montrose – The Very Best of Montrose

ARTIST: Montrose montrose

TITLE: The Very Best Of Montrose

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Rock Candy, Bad Motor Scooter, I Got the Fire, Rock the Nation, Space Station #5. Music Man, Jump On It

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh, I doubt it

LINEUP: Ronnie Montrose. First album had Sammy Hagar, Denny Carmisi, and Bill Church. Alan Fitzgerald replaced Church. Bob James replaced Hagar and Jim Alcivar added keyboards. Montrose regrouped a band in the 80s with guys from Gamma and Buster Brown

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Former Edgar Winter guitarist forms his own band, rocks out, gets bored, and what was promising dies on the vine.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Ronnie Montrose could sling an axe, as he proved for Edgar Winter, Van Morrison and others. Leaving Winter, he formed Montrose and released a debut album which gained some fans in the hard rock world, but had no sales to speak of.

Montrose’s records were mainly spotty with some bursts of innovation and fire, and then low spots with second-rate material. (Sammy Hagar wrote perhaps their best song, “Bad Motor Scooter”, not Montrose).  Sure, there are moments, but when Bob James took over for Hagar, it was all over for the most part. Then there was a 80’s glammy band. No thanks.

For the most part, this collection is all you need, and even then you have to be judicious. Montrose could have been a classic band, but it was not meant to be.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Montrose expected sobriety from his band members, after he had a near-lethal overdose.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

 GRADE B-: With good material, they were great. But the good material diminished as time went on.