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Turnstiles (180g)

Artist: Billy Joel
Billy Joel - Turnstiles 180g Vinyl Lp
Label: Mobile Fidelity
Regular Price: $29.95
On Sale For: $19.47 
Year: 2011
Format: Vinyl - Audiophile

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By 1976, Billy Joel had proven his merit as an auteur of California-based singer-songwriter pop-rock. On Turnstiles, the legend focuses his attention on more ambitious matters: Making an album whose scope and range dwarf that of his previous work, and shot his star into the stratosphere. Encompassing everything from urgent rock to soft pop and saloon fare, Turnstiles is a classic of major proportions.   

Mobile Fidelity has gone back to the original master tapes to present Joel’s encompassing music the way it was always intended to be experienced: Intimate, detailed, expressive, warm. The record’s widescreen sonics are at last properly cinematic, flush with colors, textures, and atmosphere.   

Progressing away from sensitivity, Joel casts his eye towards broader horizons. For him, that meant moving from the West Coast back to his native New York and embracing the city’s doo-wop, Broadway, and R&B heritage. Joel’s diversity comes through in a spectacle of memorable tunes, including the infectious “All You Wanna Do Is Dance,” acerbic “Angry Young Man,” and gorgeous “I’ve Loved These Days.”   

Still, no song better illustrates the allure—and breadth—of Turnstiles more than “Say Goodbye to Hollywood,” bathed in the sort of fabulous Phil Spector sound, huge drum echoes, and Brill Building orchestral sweep that Joel grew up on. Similarly, the sprawling ballad “New York State of Mind” clearly states the singer’s vision and mood. On the definitive track, Joel luxuriates in full string accompaniment and soulful saxophone playing that gives the pop standard its foundation. Not for nothing did Joel insist on keeping his touring band for the album, a decision that resulted in the firing of the record’s original producer.   

Supported by talents such as arranger Kenny Ascher, guitarist James Herb Smith, and percussionist Mingo Lewis, Joel succeeds in wrapping his head around a rich swath of American pop music, stopping by way of New Orleans, Kansas City, Memphis, Chicago, and other cities on his way from California back to the Garden State. While lacking the fame of the subsequent The Stranger and 52nd Street, Turnstiles is in every way their equal.   

Finally, the delicate nuances of Joel’s phrasing, pregnant pauses, and introspective emotion can be experienced in three-dimensional fidelity. In addition, the spectrum of the orchestra’s power and finesse, ravishing poignancy of the lyrics, and bittersweet qualities of the melodies bloom with unforced immediacy. The previous veiled sonic character and stultifying dryness have been corrected, presenting Joel and his crack band with illuminating precision and feeling. 
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