Sunday, April 28, 2013

Billy Joel- Until the Night and 52nd Street

The original 52nd album cover superimposed on a  picture of the location it was taken...*

"Until the Night" is from Billy Joel's 52nd street album.  52nd Street won the Grammy for the best album of the year for 1978, against the tough competition of the time.  It was one of those albums where I find myself preferring the album tracks to the hits.  I loved the light jazz of "Zanzibar", and "Rosalinda' Eyes", and the percussive insistent piano work of "Stiletto".  But "Until The Night" was my favorite, a wonderful melodrama evoking the Righteous Brothers at their best.

Although I am sometimes uncomfortable with all the copyright infringement that occurs on Youtube, I am happy that you often get to hear some excellent performances that were otherwise unavailable.  Here is a case in point.  This performance  was originally only  available in fan upload, but Billy's label, CBS has now uploaded an official version.

This is a 1982 live performance by Billy Joel and his band of his song "Until the Night".   This performance was left off the commercially available video from that time called Live in Long Island. It's an excellent concert video that has yet to be released in it's entirety on DVD.  At the point that this  was recorded  most  of Billy's classic band is still there, and Billy still has hair.  This video is unusual , in that you get to hear guitarist  Russell Javors sing some lead parts- almost making the song a duet.  Javors  actually provides a perfect complement to Billy Joel's  smoky unnaturally low voice.  The best part of the song is at the end, when Mark Rivera comes out for the dramatic horn solo, that in the original studio version was performed by Richie Cannata.

* The cover image shown above comes from Bob Egan's fascinating website-Pop SpotsNYC


  1. Hi, what a great video indeed! You're right about Russell Javors' vocals (I didn't know he had such a lovely voice). I love that song too and even on the studio version, the sax solo changes it from excellent to outstanding! When Billy Joel inducted The Righteous Brothers into the RnR Hall of Fame, he said he tried to emulate them but "failed" (his word)...
    the popspotsnyc picture doesn't work as well as the one with "an innocent man" front cover.
    "52 street" is probably my second favorite album by Billy. In fact 'Honesty' is not only my fav Billy Joel's song, it is my second fav song of all time. A New Jersey boy called Springsteen wrote my favorite song of all time...

  2. Excellent Springsteen website-I'm assuming your favorite song is "The River".

    1. too right!
      Have you checked out the official music video for 'my life' (Billy Joel)? it starts with a view of the street and a shot of the rooftop, near what seems to be the place you had been looking for. But I may be wrong ♪ Then the band moves down and, of course, the basement they go to might not be nearby, I don't know. Certainly, it's not the band members doing backing vocals on the song (it's Peter Cetera and Donnie Dacus of the group Chicago). I also can't help noticing Billy's funny walk or limp, now that I read he had a double hip replacement for a congenital condition that was never diagnosed properly until recently.
      All the best to you!

  3. Was just reading a 2013 interview/tribute and thought of your website. This is Billy Joel remembering producer Phil Ramone... "After The Stranger, we made 52nd Street. He had the idea to bring in jazz musicians. I was really enthusiastic about it. The studio was actually on 52nd Street, and they used to call it Swing Street. It had all the jazz clubs back in the 1940s and 1950s . . . I didn't even know that until Phil told me about it. That's why we named the album 52nd Street. And actually the picture on the cover was taken right outside of the studio. It was kind of a dingy entrance with a real greasy elevator, and there was a little bar/restaurant, sort of like the place they hung out on Seinfeld. The building isn't even there now. I think it's an insurance office. "

    1. Interesting. Yeah, Producer, Phil Ramone died last year (2013), he was definitely a key figure in providing color to the Billy Joel sound. I didn't know about Billy's
      funny walk? That's interesting...