52nd Street (album)

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52nd Street
Billy Joel 52nd Street album cover.JPG
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 11, 1978 (1978-10-11)
RecordedJuly–August 1978
StudioA&R Recording, Inc., 799 7th Avenue at 52nd Street, New York City
Genre
Length40:26
LabelFamily Productions/Columbia
ProducerPhil Ramone
Billy Joel chronology
The Stranger
(1977)
52nd Street
(1978)
Glass Houses
(1980)
Singles from 52nd Street
  1. "My Life"
    Released: October 28, 1978
  2. "Big Shot"
    Released: January 1979
  3. "Until the Night"
    Released: March 1979
  4. "Honesty"
    Released: May 1979

52nd Street is the sixth studio album by American singer-songwriter Billy Joel, released on October 11, 1978.[1] The follow-up to his breakthrough success album, The Stranger, Joel tried to give the album a fresh sound, hiring various jazz musicians to differentiate it from his previous albums.[2]

It was the first of four Joel albums to top the Billboard charts, and it earned him two Grammys. Three songs reached the Top 40 in the United States, contributing to the album's success: "My Life" (number 3), "Big Shot" (number 14), and "Honesty" (number 24).[3] It was similarly well received by critics, earning the 1980 Grammy for Album of the Year.[4] This Grammy was presented to its producer, Phil Ramone. Upon Ramone's death, 52nd Street's Album of the Year Grammy was passed on to Joel. Additionally, the album is notable for being among the first albums commercially released on the compact disc format, reaching store shelves on October 1, 1982, in Japan (it was one of fifty CDs released that day, including The Stranger, but bore the first catalogue number in the sequence, 35DP-1, and so is frequently cited as the first to be released).[5] In keeping with this history, it was also the first release when Sony returned to manufacturing vinyl records in 2018.[6]

The title is a reference to 52nd Street, one of New York City's jazz centers in the middle of the century. Joel's label was headquartered on 52nd Street (in the CBS Building) at the time of the album's release. The studio where recording took place was also on 52nd Street, one block away from the CBS Building.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[7]
Blender4/5 stars[8]
Christgau's Record GuideB−[9]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[10]
The Great Rock Discography7/10[11]
Record Mirror4/5 stars[12]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[13]

Reviewing 52nd Street for The Village Voice in 1979, Robert Christgau noted Joel's talent for writing catchy songs and likened him to Elton John, albeit with more "smarm".[14]

Retrospectively, AllMusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine praises Joel for expanding stylistically on 1977's The Stranger, describing 52nd Street as "more sophisticated and somewhat jazzy."[7] In 2000, it was voted number 621 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums.[15] In 2003, 52nd Street was ranked number 352 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time,[16] and at 354 on a 2012 revised list.[17]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Billy Joel.

Side one
  1. "Big Shot" – 4:03
  2. "Honesty" – 3:52
  3. "My Life" – 4:44
  4. "Zanzibar" – 5:13
Side two
  1. "Stiletto" – 4:42
  2. "Rosalinda's Eyes" – 4:41
  3. "Half a Mile Away" – 4:08
  4. "Until the Night" – 6:35
  5. "52nd Street" – 2:27


Track one

  1. "Big Shot"
  2. "Half a Mile Away"
  3. "Zanzibar (part 1)"


Track two

4. "Zanzibar (conclusion)"

5. "Stiletto"

6. "Rosalinda's Eyes"


Track three

7. "My Life"

8. "Until the Night"


Track four

9. "Honesty"

10. "Zanzibar"

11. "52nd Street"

Song notes[edit]

The song "Rosalinda's Eyes" was inspired by Joel's mother, Rosalind Nyman Joel.[18]

Personnel[edit]

Production[edit]

  • Phil Ramone – producer, mixing
  • Kathy Kurs – associate producer
  • Carol Peters – associate producer
  • Jim Boyer – engineer, mixing
  • David Martone – assistant engineer
  • Ted Jensen – mastering at Sterling Sound (New York City, NY)
  • John Berg – cover design
  • Jim Houghton – photography

Accolades[edit]

Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1980 52nd Street Album of the Year[4] Won
Best Pop Vocal Performance – Male[4] Won
"Honesty" Song of the Year[19] Nominated

American Music Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1980 Billy Joel (performer) Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist[20] Nominated

Charts[edit]

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[49] 5× Platinum 500,000^
France (SNEP)[51] Gold 242,500[50]
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[52] Gold 7,500*
Japan (RIAJ)[53] Gold 470,000[54]
New Zealand (RMNZ)[55] Platinum 15,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[57] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[58] 7× Platinum 7,000,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

References[edit]

  1. ^ RIAA lists October 11 as the release date. Billy Joel tweeted that it was October 12.
    • "Billy Joel – 52nd Street". Gold and Platinum Certification. RIAA. 2020. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
    • @billyjoel (October 12, 2019). "52nd St Release Date" (Tweet). Retrieved October 12, 2019 – via Twitter.
  2. ^ https://www.grammy.com/grammys/news/remember-when-billy-joels-multi-grammy-winning-52nd-street
  3. ^ "allmusic ((( 52nd Street > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". allmusic.com. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c "Past Winners Search". grammy.com. Archived from the original on August 1, 2013. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  5. ^ "How Billy Joel's '52nd Street' Became the First Compact Disc Released". Ultimate Classic Rock. Archived from the original on July 6, 2017.
  6. ^ "Sony joins vinyl revival with first LP releases in almost 30 years".
  7. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "52nd Street – Billy Joel". AllMusic. Archived from the original on July 15, 2020. Retrieved May 1, 2011.
  8. ^ Browne, David (May 22, 2007). "Billy Joel: 52nd Street". Blender. Archived from the original on February 4, 2010. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  9. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "J". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor and Fields. ISBN 0-89919-026-X. Retrieved February 27, 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
  10. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "Joel, Billy". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  11. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2002). "Billy Joel". The Great Rock Discography (6th ed.). Canongate Books. ISBN 1-84195-312-1.
  12. ^ Smith, Robin (November 18, 1978). "Billy Joel: 52nd Street". Record Mirror. p. 18.
  13. ^ Evans, Paul (2004). "Billy Joel". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 434–35. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  14. ^ Christgau, Robert (April 2, 1979). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved May 1, 2011.
  15. ^ Larkin, Colin (2000). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
  16. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time: 52nd Street – Billy Joel". Rolling Stone. November 18, 2003. Archived from the original on December 20, 2010. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  17. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. May 31, 2012. Archived from the original on March 26, 2014. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  18. ^ "Billy Joel's mother, '78 song's namesake, dies". Tyler Morning Telegraph. Associated Press. July 16, 2014. p. 7A.
  19. ^ "Rock On The Net: 22nd Annual Grammy Awards – 1980". Archived from the original on July 2, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  20. ^ "7th American Music Awards". Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  21. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  22. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Billy Joel – 52nd Street" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved April 8, 2017.
  23. ^ "Top Albums/CDs – Volume 30, No. 21, February 17, 1979". RPM. Archived from the original on September 23, 2011. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  24. ^ "dutchcharts.nl Billy Joel – 52nd Street". Hung Medien, dutchcharts.nl (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Archived from the original on October 22, 2012. Retrieved September 12, 2011.
  25. ^ Pennanen, Timo (2006). Sisältää hitin – levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972 (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava. p. 263. ISBN 978-951-1-21053-5.
  26. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste" (in French). infodisc.fr. Archived from the original on September 10, 2013. Retrieved September 12, 2011.
  27. ^ "Tonlist Top 40". DV. Archived from the original on May 15, 2018. Retrieved February 9, 2017.
  28. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1979" (in Italian). hitparadeitalia.it. Archived from the original on August 11, 2011. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  29. ^ "- Yamachan Land (Archives of the Japanese record charts) – Albums Chart Daijiten – Billy Joel" (in Japanese). December 30, 2007. Archived from the original on February 8, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  30. ^ "charts.nz – Billy Joel – 52nd Street". charts.nz. Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  31. ^ "norwegiancharts.com Billy Joel – 52nd Street". Hung Medien, norwegiancharts.com. VG-lista. Archived from the original on November 2, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  32. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
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  35. ^ "The Official Charts Company – Billy Joel – 52nd Street". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  36. ^ "Billy Joel Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard.
  37. ^ "Billy Joel – 52nd Street – offiziellecharts.de" (in German). Media Control. Archived from the original on April 26, 2016. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
  38. ^ * Zimbabwe. Kimberley, C. Zimbabwe: albums chart book. Harare: C. Kimberley, 2000
  39. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1978". RPM. Archived from the original on June 19, 2013. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  40. ^ "Austriancharts.st – Jahreshitparade 1979" (in German). Hung Medien. Archived from the original on October 11, 2011. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
  41. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1979". RPM. Archived from the original on December 5, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  42. ^ "Les Albums (CD) de 1979 par InfoDisc" (in French). infodisc.fr. Archived from the original (PHP) on February 21, 2014. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  43. ^ "Japanese Year-End Albums Chart 1979" (in Japanese). Oricon. Archived from the original on February 3, 2014. Retrieved September 12, 2011.
  44. ^ "The Top 50 Albums of 1979". Archived from the original on July 4, 2017. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  45. ^ "The Top 20 Albums of Vinter 1979". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  46. ^ "Complete UK Year-End Album Charts". Archived from the original on January 11, 2012. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
  47. ^ Billboard.com – Year End Charts – Year-end Albums – The Billboard 200. December 22, 1979. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
  48. ^ "日本で売れた洋楽アルバムトップ23 (Top-23 international albums on the Japanese Oricon Year-End Charts 1980)". Archived from the original on February 19, 2007. Retrieved October 21, 2007.
  49. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Billy Joel – 52nd Street". Music Canada.
  50. ^ "Les Albums Or". infodisc.fr. SNEP. Archived from the original on October 18, 2011. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  51. ^ "French album certifications – Billy Joel – 52nd Street" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique.
  52. ^ "IFPIHK Gold Disc Award − 1979". IFPI Hong Kong. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015.
  53. ^ "RIAJ > The Record > April 1994 > Page 5 > Certified Awards (February 1994)" (PDF). Recording Industry Association of Japan (in Japanese). Archived (PDF) from the original on July 20, 2015. Retrieved July 10, 2013.
  54. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
  55. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – Billy Joel – 52nd Street". Recorded Music NZ.
  56. ^ "The Official New Zealand Music Chart". THE OFFICIAL NZ MUSIC CHART. Archived from the original on November 7, 2016. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  57. ^ "British album certifications – Billy Joel – 52nd Street". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type 52nd Street in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  58. ^ "American album certifications – Billy Joel – 52nd Street". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.