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Billy Joel: "Turn the Lights Back On" (2024)

We are living in the age of musical miracles. I had long ago resigned myself to the fact that we'd never again hear new music from The Beatles or Billy Joel. Then, in the space of four months both broke their silences. The Beatles, of course, gave us the gorgeous "Now and Then" in early November 2023, their first "new" music since the mid 1990s. Billy Joel, in early February 2024, released his first song since "Christmas in Fallujah" and "All My Life" In 2007. One could make a strong argument that we should really label "Turn the Lights Back On" Billy's first new song since 1993. "Christmas in Fallujah" was given to a young singer/songwriter named Cass Dillon. "All My Life" was a Rat Pack-style jazz ballad written for Billy's third wife upon their marriage. Neither was marketed as an end to Billy's retirement from recording. "Turn the Lights Back On" is very different in that regard. Its lyr
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It's Still Billy Joel to Me

Not long ago I sat down with a DVD compilation of Billy Joel videos and promotional films. As I watched him play an unshaven guardian angel, car mechanic, and game show contestant I was reminded again of my abiding love for his music. Granted, it doesn't take much to remind me. I've been a fan since I was six years old and my mom played tapes of An Innocent Man (1983) and Greatest Hits (1985) over and over in the car as we drove around town. In college I did a deep dive into his catalog and found that and found that Billy's music - even the songs I didn't listen to growing up - helped ground me whenever I felt lost in the process of growing up.  This deep connection has continued through adulthood, and I haven't shied away from writing about him on this blog over the years. In fact, I've written reviews about four of his 12 studio albums. So it occurrs to me that he is a prime candidate for an every-album-reviewed project. In case you're new around here, I&

The Tortured Poets Department: The Revision

Before a person is allowed to write about music, they must commit to an oath comprised of several tenets. One of the most sacred of these is that anytime an artist releases a double album, your reaction must be to say that it would have been so much better as a single album .  On April 26, 2024 the biggest pop star of the last 15 years, Taylor Swift, released her eleventh album. The intial streaming, CD and vinyl versions of The Tortured Poets Department featured sixteen tracks, with four different bonus songs available CD. Then, at 2am on April 27 streaming services were hit with The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology , a 31-track behemoth featuring the original 16 songs, the 4 bonus tracks, and 11 additional songs.  Given that Swift was riding as high as any musician ever has, one might think that perhaps this album would be an exception to the critical rules. But it wasn't. After all, another of those of those very rules is that backlash is ineveitable.  So even before th

Twenty Twenty-Three

2023 marks not only the 20th anniversary of this blog (an occasion I'm overdue to celebrate), but also 20 years of compiling a playlist of favorite songs to summarize my year in music consumption.  Though I still make an ultra-limited run of physical copies, for the most part this now lives in the streaming world. As such, if you have Amazon Music Unlimited you can listen at this link . The Tracks: 1. Mammoth WVH: "Like a Pastime" 2. blink-182: "Fell in Love" 3. Jonas Brothers: "Vacation Eyes" 4. Kylie Minogue: "Things We Do For Love" 5. Carly Rae Jepsen: "So Right" 6. Semisonic: "All the Time" 7. Caitlyn Smith: "High" 8. Wilco: "Meant to Be" 9. Jenny Lewis: "Chain of Tears" 10. The National (feat. Taylor Swift): "The Alcott" 11. Lufthaus & Robbie Williams: "Unlovable" 12. The Killers: "Your Side of Town" 13. Foo Fighters: "Show Me How" 14. The New P

The Beatles: "Now and Then" (2023)

All the way back in 2008, I wrote a series of  posts covering the recorded output of an obscure 1960s band called The Beatles. Though never especially popular or commercially successful, they managed to release an impressive 13 albums and 2 compilations in a 7-year period. Once I completed those reviews, I promptly forgot all about the Beatles. I was sure that I didn't need to keep tabs on them, because all indications were that they'd never reunite or release any more music. So you can imagine my surprise a couple of weeks ago when I came across a YouTube video claiming to be about the making of a new "final" Beatles song called "Now and Then." And then imagine even more surprise when I learned that this song was not the first new Beatles song since 1970. It's the third! As it turns out, the Beatles had actually "reuinted" to record more music in the 1990s. Though band member John Lennon was killed in 1980, he left behild some unfinished songs

Refrigerated Love: Afterplay (2023)

In May of 2019, the semi-seminal U.K. new wave heavy metal glam rock shoegaze new romantic band Refrigerated Love released their 28th studio album, Prodigal Sunshine   and a retrospective box set called Refrigerate After Opening . It was a triumphant return to the spotlight for a band who had long been justly ignored. Following a summer tour of state fairs in the U.S., the band took time off to relish their middling success. Their plan was to begin a massive European tour in May of 2020.  Well, we all know what happened next. As the seriousness of the COVID-19 virus foisted itself on the world and everything began to shut down, the band initially held fast to their intention to tour. "We have always been an anti-fascist band," lead singer said in a press release on March 19, 2020, "and we will not give in to these attempts to curb our natural born freedom to rock" As venues shuttered their doors, Refrigerated Love continued to be defiant. "We're coming to

Weezer: SZNZ Abbreviated

One of the most oldest and most enticing thought exercises in pop music is: What if (artist) had released the best songs from (double album) as a single disc instead?  Pre-Internet, folks used their cassette decks to create their own truncated versions of likes of The Beatles'  White Album ("Revolution 9" has to go, for sure) and Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (sorry, "Jamaica Jerk-Off"), some out of artistic vision, others because the tape just wasn't long enough to hold all the songs. Now, with mp3s and streaming, we have the ability to curate everything for ourselves, which means even a single album could be reduced to an EP of your faves, with the shuffle feature making it so the order doesn't even have to be the same every time. Here's where I could detour into a healthy digression about the negative consequences of that total freedom, but I'll resist the temptation. Our good friends Weezer - who are not typically known for rest