Billy Joel

After striking a juvenile delinquent pose on his '80 Glass Houses LP, and reminiscing on last year's Songs in the Attic retrospective, Joel jackknifes into adulthood with this collection. Now 33, he has written a striking cycle of nine songs about the current troubled plight of boomed babies like himself. He is troubled by random events—like his recent motorcycle accident—over which he has no control (Surprises), and haunted by complex relationships (Laura) and the challenges of the workaday world (Pressure). The standout cut is a tune called Goodnight Saigon that burns like napalm. It begins with the flutter of chopper rotors and has journalistic images like: "They sent us Playboy/They gave us Bob Hope/We dug in deep/And shot on sight." Another tune, a timely one, is Allentown, about the economic doldrums of the blue-collar backbone of American industry. Musically, most of the album is vintage Joel with clever hooks, Broad-wayesque melodic vim and journeyman work on the 88s. This time around, though, he has experimented with some string and horn arrangements that add depth and aural color to his style. In writing about subjects that are close to him, Joel has found songs that will appeal to his peers.