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Nylon Curtain Enhanced, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered

4.6 out of 5 stars 100 customer reviews

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The Nylon Curtain
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Audio CD, Enhanced, Original recording reissued, October 20, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Billy Joel's chameleonlike leaps from style to style have never resulted in a more audacious album than 1982's Nylon Curtain. Gloriously overreaching both musically--Joel seems compelled to act as both Lennon and McCartney on this heavily Beatles-influenced disc--and thematically, he takes on everything from romance in an age of alienation ("Laura," "A Room of Our Own") to the sociopolitical causes of that alienation ("Goodnight Saigon," the moving recession saga "Allentown"). And it all works. As a portrait of a pop artist getting the Big Ideas out of his system, The Nylon Curtain is hard to beat. --Rickey Wright
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 20, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Enhanced, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B00000DCHF
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #288,712 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
"The Nylon Curtain" might be Billy's most initially frustrating album. The songs are strange and sometimes inaccessable, and even the hit singles had a palpable feeling of dread. But no other Billy album holds up as well, or makes a more complete statement as "The Nylon Curtain."
"Allentown" and "Goodnight Saigon" are probably the easiest to digest (if only because the subject matter is fairly clear). But listen closely to both of them, and you'll hear complex variations on basic themes (unemployment and war, respectively). "Allentown" takes the industrial woes of it's titular town personally - check the line "I won't be getting up today" to see how the employment situation has affected the narrator. And "Goodnight Saigon" veers between the horrors of war and the sadness of the bond between soldiers, and finds a simple truth in between. There's empathy but not a trace of sentimentality, which helps keep the songs fresh.
Duplicity is a common theme in "Nylon Curtain." "Laura," a magnificent piece of Beatlesque pop, hints at the pressures caused by an ex-lover's obsessions...and for once the production is perfect, as Liberty's pounding drums and Billy's overdubbed background vocals create a driving, almost mocking tone. The wonderful "A Room of Your Own" and the elusive, almost coy confessional "Surprises" are great spins on Billy's themes of disenchantment with middle-American life.
The album closes with two strange, complex charts: the swirling dream-like psychedelia of "Scandinavian Skies" and the bittersweet coda "Where's the Orchestra?
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1 Comment 29 of 34 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Audio CD
Billy Joel entered the 1980s and began to expand his musical horizons. This was evident on his ninth studio album, 1982's "The Nylon Curtain". This album wouldn't be a return to the days of "The Stranger" or "52nd Street", but it would mark Billy's return more toward a piano style of music. Despite what may not have been his best selling album, the result would be that Billy would produce an album that would be the creative high point of his musical career.


I look at Billy Joel's career as having three phases. The first phase is what I call "Old Billy Joel". This basically includes all of his material from "Cold Spring Harbor" through "Turnstiles". These are perhaps the strongest days as the piano sound, but they also contain most of Joel's least heard material. The next phase is what I call "Middle Billy Joel". This was his most successful period and covers from "The Stranger" to "Billy Joel Greatest Hits Volume 1 and 2". Joel would go through a transition during this phase - expanding his musical horizons and exploring different avenues. The final phase is the "Later Billy Joel" phase - this covers "The Bridge" to "River of Dreams". In this phase, Billy would start to incorporate some of his older styles of music while not abandoning his desire to continue to explore new avenues. "The Nylon Curtain" clearly falls into the heart of this "Middle Billy Joel" phase.

"The Nylon Curtain" is a very different album that Billy Joel did. Albums such as "The Stranger" and "52nd Street" had the strong lyrical themes of "New York" and "Melting Pot". "The Nylon Curtain" doesn't have a strong lyrical theme, but it does have a strong style theme. Billy creates a set of songs in which the instrumentation creates an image of the song.
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1 Comment 12 of 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Audio CD
This is my favorite Billy Joel album, by far. Which is saying a lot, because I would rate my least favorite Billy Joel album at about 4.5 stars. This album seems to have a depressing theme running through it. Running through unemployment, unhealthy dependency on relationships, war, rock 'n roll lifestyles, and more war, the songs can be a bit of a downer if you're in the wrong mood. However, the mood is intriguing like a car wreck, and the bitterness in so many of the songs is possibly what makes this such a great CD.

It might be worth noting that the three hits on this CD (Allentown, Pressure, and Goodnight Saigon) are usually among the songs that fans call their least favorite (especially Pressure), but don't let that turn you off from hearing the rest of the CD. When in place with the other songs, the mood fits perfectly. This album basically needs to be broken down by songs, because there isn't any way to describe it as a whole.

Allentown starts with a work whistle and resonating drum and percussion sounds, really emphasizing the hard-working tone of the lyrics, and the gentle melody understates the bitterness of the words. "They threw an American Flag in our face" is a perfect way to sum up the song, it's like an American dream has been ruined for the families of the town.

Laura is very McCartney-ish, complete with "ahhh"-ing background vocals and familiar chord changes. The song starts with resistance to a relationship with a girl named Laura, but by the end it seems there's appreciation for her. "She always says I'm the best friend that she's ever had. How do you hang up on someone who needs you that bad?"

Pressure was a staple of MTV videos back in '82, and if you know any song from this album, this is it.
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