Top Producers – Phil Ramone

Billy Joel – An Innocent Man

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last on this copy of Joel’s ninth studio album
  • Dynamic and open, with driving rhythmic energy – this early pressing brings this great batch of songs to life
  • Jam packed with hits: An Innocent Man, The Longest Time, Tell Her About It, Uptown Girl, Leave a Tender Moment Alone, and more – seven singles in all
  • “Joel has rarely sounded so carefree either in performance or writing, possibly due to “Christie Lee” Brinkley, a supermodel who became his new love prior to An Innocent Man.” — Allmusic

Both of these sides have the huge soundstage and startling clarity and immediacy that characterizes this album, but they also add an ingredient missing from most we heard — a full, rich, musical midrange!

On many pressings, the vocals can get hard and harsh on the uptempo tracks (“Uptown Girl” is a notable offender, and never sounds quite as good as the rest of the album), but this copy manages to fix that problem (mostly) without sacrificing transparency or top end.

This was a monster in its day, generating a Number One hit and seven total single releases out of the ten songs that comprise it. Seven out of ten, not a bad track record. We couldn’t find a weak song on the album either, which is surely one of the reasons it sold seven million copies in the states alone.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

This copy has the kind of sound we look for in a top quality Billy Joel record. A few qualities to listen for:

Immediacy in the vocals (so many copies are veiled and distant);

Natural tonal balance (most copies are at least slightly brighter or darker than ideal; ones with the right balance are the exception, not the rule);

Good solid weight (so the bass sounds full and powerful);

Spaciousness (the best copies have wonderful studio ambience and space);

And last but not least, transparency, the quality of being able to see into the studio, where there is plenty of musical information to be revealed in this simple but sophisticated recording.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Easy Money 
An Innocent Man 
The Longest Time 
This Night 
Tell Her About It

Side Two

Uptown Girl 
Careless Talk 
Christie Lee 
Leave a Tender Moment Alone 
Keeping the Faith

AMG Review

… he’s effortlessly spinning out infectious, memorable melodies in a variety of styles, from the Four Seasons send-up “Uptown Girl” and the soulful “Tell Her About It” to a pair of doo wop tributes, “The Longest Time” and “Careless Talk.” Joel has rarely sounded so carefree either in performance or writing, possibly due to “Christie Lee” Brinkley, a supermodel who became his new love prior to An Innocent Man.

He can’t stop writing about her throughout the album — only three songs, including the haunted title track, aren’t about her in some form or fashion. That giddiness is infectious, helping make An Innocent Man an innocent delight that unwittingly closes Joel’s classic period.

An Innocent Man

In an interview about the making of the album, Joel talks about the fact that at the time that he was recording An Innocent Man, he was newly divorced from his first wife, Elizabeth Weber, and was single for the first time since achieving rock star status.

So he had the opportunity to date supermodels like Elle Macpherson and Christie Brinkley, and because of these experiences, he said, “I kind of felt like a teenager all over again.”And so he started writing songs in the same style as pop songs that he remembered from his teenage years, citing pop music from the late 1950s and early 1960s, including “early R&B songs and The Four Seasons, and the Motown music, soul music.”

Joel explained, “When you’re gonna write [songs for a new album], you write what you’re feeling. And I didn’t fight it. The material was coming so easily and so quickly, and I was having so much fun doing it. I was kind of reliving my youth. . .I think within 6 weeks I had written most of the material on the album.”

The album featured three Billboard Top 10 hit singles: “Tell Her About It”, which reached #1, “Uptown Girl”, which peaked at #3 and “An Innocent Man”, which peaked at #10.

Four other singles were released from the album: “The Longest Time” (number 14), “Leave a Tender Moment Alone” (number 27), “Keeping the Faith” (number 18) and “This Night” (US B-Side of “Leave a Tender Moment Alone”).

An Innocent Man remained on the U.S. Pop album chart for 111 weeks, becoming Joel’s longest charting studio album behind The Stranger.

Wikipedia

Phil Ramone Is One of Our Favorite Producer-Engineers

More of Our Favorite Producer-Engineers

 

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PHIL RAMONE is one of our favorite engineers and producers. Click on the links below to find our in-stock Phil Ramone engineered or produced albums, along with plenty of our famous commentaries. 

Phil Ramone Engineered or Produced Albums with Hot Stampers

Phil Ramone Engineered or Produced Albums We’ve Reviewed

Billy Joel – Glass Houses – Our Shootout Winner for 2017

 

Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017
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  • A superb pressing: Triple Plus (A+++) on the second side, Double Plus (A++) on the first
  • The sound is just right for this album full of rockers — big, rich and punchy with great space and dynamics
  • This title has some of his biggest hits: You May Be Right, Don’t Ask Me Why and It’s Still Rock & Roll To Me
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Instead of turning out to be a fiery rebuttal to his detractors, the album is a remarkable catalog of contemporary pop styles … That’s not a detriment; that’s the album’s strength.”

See all of our Billy Joel albums in stock

A truly stunning copy of one of Billy Joel’s best-loved albums! We recently finished a massive shootout for Billy Joel’s hard-rockin’ 1980 release and most copies were pretty dreadful. Thankfully for us (and the Billy Joel fans out there) we managed to find a few copies that really work! This one absolutely nails it — they just don’t get much better than this, folks.

The Midrange Is Key (As Usual)

Most of the copies we’re played were pinched in the midrange, which gave a hard, unpleasant quality to the vocals. This is probably the most pure rock and roll album Billy Joel ever put out, and it’s a shame to hear these songs fall flat when they run into the problems of the typical pressing. The copies that keep you engaged are Hot Stampers, plain and simple.

Best Practices

If you have five or ten copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what’s right and what’s wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that the others do not do as well, using a few specific passages of music, it will quickly become obvious how well any given pressing reproduces those passages.

The process is simple enough. First you go deep into the sound. There you find something special, something you can’t find on most copies. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

You May Be Right
Sometimes a Fantasy
Don’t Ask Me Why
It’s Still Rock & Roll to Me
All for Leyna

Side Two

I Don’t Want to Be Alone
Sleeping With the Television On
C’Etait Toi (You Were the One)
Close to the Borderline
Through the Long Night