Choosing the best Billy Joel albums ranked is is no easy task. To date, Joel has released great albums covering a variety of different genres and decades and each album has their own unique sound and theme. While all of his albums are great in their own right, some definitely stand out more than others.
In this article, I will share my favorites and explain what makes them so special.
About Billy Joel
Billy Joel is one of the most popular and successful singer/songwriters of all time. Along with an illustrious music career, he has also been awarded six Grammy Awards and two Golden Globes. Not to mention, he is one of the few artists to sell over 150 million records worldwide.
Joel has always been musically inclined. As a young child, he took piano lessons and by the age of 16 he dropped out of high school to pursue his music career full time. Joel’s first album, “Cold Spring Harbor” was released in 1971 to little fanfare. It wasn’t until his second album, “Piano Man” was released in 1973 that he started to gain traction in the music industry.
From there, Joel’s career took off and he continued to produce hit after hit. He has always had a knack for writing catchy tunes and his ability to play multiple instruments really set him apart from other artists of his time.
In 1986, Joel was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and in 1999 he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. In 2013, he received the Kennedy Center Honors- one of the highest civilian awards in the United States.
Needless to say, Billy Joel’s career has been nothing short of successful and his impact on the music industry is still felt today.
Now, let’s take a look at my personal favorite Billy Joel albums ranked.
Best Billy Joel Albums Ranked Worst to Best
Although there really is no bad Billy Joel album, there are definitely some that are better than others. Here is my list of the 13 best Billy Joel albums ranked from worst to best:
13: ‘Cold Spring Harbor’ (1971)
Kicking off my list of Billy Joel albums ranked is the 1971 debut album, “Cold Spring Harbor.” This album is definitely a product of its time and doesn’t hold up as well as some of Joel’s later work. That being said, it’s still a decent album with some good songs. I mean any album that kicks off with “She’s Got A Way” is pretty damn impressive.
The main issue most have with this album is the production. To say that the sound is raw is an understatement; the instrumentation is buried so deep in the mix that it’s nearly impossible to discern it at first. From the debut, it’s clear that he’s capable, but it won’t be until his next album that he really shines.
Some of the standout tracks on “Cold Spring Harbor” include: “She’s Got A Way”, “Everybody Loves You Now” and “Tomorrow Is Today”.
12: ‘The Bridge’ (1986)
The Bridge is the ninth studio album by Billy Joel, released on July 28, 1986. This was Joel’s first album of original material since 1982’s Nylon Curtain, and his last to date. It was produced by Phil Ramone, and features Joel’s only charting pop single from the 1980s, “A Matter of Trust”.
As the title would suggest, The Bridge is a bit of departure from Joel’s previous work. The album is more synth-driven and experimental, which was likely due to the fact that Joel was exploring different sounds and production techniques. The result, instead of the production supporting the songs, this is an example of the songs serving as a framework for the production.
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The album received mixed reviews upon its release, with many critics panning it for its new direction. However, in retrospect, The Bridge is actually a pretty solid album and definitely worth giving a listen.
Some of the standout tracks on The Bridge include: “A Matter of Trust”, “Baby Grand” and “This Is The Time”.
11: ‘Streetlife Serenade’ (1974)
Billy Joel’s third studio album, Streetlife Serenade, was released on October 11, 1974. The album was recorded during a tumultuous time in Joel’s life; he had just divorced his first wife and was struggling with addiction.
The album reflects this chaotic period in Joel’s life, as it is all over the place in terms of tone and genre. One minute you’re listening to a straight-up rock song, and the next minute you’re listening to a country ballad. It’s an interesting album, but it doesn’t always work.
That being said, there are still some great songs on Streetlife Serenade. “The Entertainer” is a classic Billy Joel tune, and “Root Beer Rag” is a fun little ditty. Overall, it’s not one of Joel’s best albums, but it’s still worth checking out.
Some of the standout tracks on Streetlife Serenade include: “The Entertainer“, “Root Beer Rag” and “Streetlife”.
10: ‘Storm Front’ (1989)
Storm Front is the tenth studio album by Billy Joel, released on October 17, 1989. The album was produced by Foreigner’s Mick Jones, and features the singles “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and “I Go to Extremes”.
Storm Front (180 Gram Audiophile Red Vinyl/Limited Anniversary Edition/Gatefold Cover)
Storm Front was Billy Joel’s first album of original material in six years, and it was clear that he was starting to feel the pressure. The album is more polished and radio-friendly than his previous work, and it lacks the creativity and originality that made Joel’s earlier albums so great.
Billy Joel’s Cold War album was heavily affected by 20th century pop culture and Billy Joels tour around Soviet Russia. The mega-hit song “We Don’t Start The Fire” became one of the influential songs for Middle School teachers. A song introduced a whole new generation of youngsters to Billy Joel’s music. Joel’s song grew to become one of his top-rated hits. Following this success, seven new tracks were released.
That being said, there are still some good songs on Storm Front. “We Didn’t Start the Fire” is a classic Billy Joel tune, and “I Go to Extremes” is a great song about addiction. Overall, it’s not one of Joel’s best albums, but it’s still worth checking out.
9: River of Dreams (1993)
River of Dreams is the eleventh studio album by Billy Joel, released on August 10, 1993. The album was produced by Danny Kortchmar and features the singles “The River of Dreams”, “All About Soul” and “Lullaby (Goodnight, My Angel)”.
River of Dreams is Billy Joel’s last album of original material, and it’s clear that he was starting to run out of steam. The album is full of ballads and mid-tempo songs, and it lacks the energy and excitement of his earlier work.
When it was released in August 1993, Billy Joel didn’t even know River of Dreams was his last album, and it was a good indication of this. It was four years since Storm Front and it marked his longest departure from his work.
He felt quite tapped. The record concludes with a beautiful ballad entitled “Famous Last Words. And this is my last sentence,” he sings. But now the time has come for me to leave this book.
That being said, there are still some good songs on River of Dreams. “The River of Dreams” is a great song about the American Dream, and “Lullaby (Goodnight, My Angel)” is a beautiful ballad.
8: The Nylon Curtain (1982)
The Nylon Curtain is the eighth studio album by Billy Joel, released on March 10, 1982. The album was produced by Phil Ramone and features the singles “Allentown” and “Pressure”.
The Nylon Curtain is one of Billy Joel’s most personal and political albums. The title refers to the American Dream, and the album is full of songs about the struggles of the working class. “Allentown” is a classic Billy Joel tune, and “Pressure” is a great song about the pressures of living in the spotlight.
Billy Joel called The Nylon Curtain a “Sgt. Pepper album” according to sources. It’s true that it’s his most aesthetically pleasing work. I love Nylon Curtain because of the incredible songs , the arrangements, and of course, the production. It sounds like a classic album should sound.
The Nylon Curtain is one of Billy Joel’s best albums, and it’s essential listening for any fan of his work. It’s clear that he was at the top of his game. The album is full of great songs, and it’s clear that Joel was in a great place creatively.
7: An Innocent Man (1983)
An Innocent Man is the ninth studio album by Billy Joel, released on September 20, 1983. The album was produced by Phil Ramone and features the singles “Tell Her About It”, “Uptown Girl” and “An Innocent Man”.
The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Joel has said that he was heavily influenced by The Beatles while making An Innocent Man. Then in 1983 Billy Joel releases an innocent man. Joel’s greatest album allowed his exploration of musical styles of the chart leaders he was a part of.
The music he liked in the 60s became a personal passion. The audience was also impressed by it as it hit tenth on American Billboard 200 charts. The song “Easy Money” was the soundtrack to the same-named film starring Rodney Dangerfield. The video for “Uptown Girl” features his wife, supermodel Christie Brinkley.
By 1983 Billy Joel had released 9 albums within 10 years. Joel said that audiences wanted something entirely different. Innocent Men is a tribute to the early 60s music Joel loved. From songs infused with doowop like “The Longest Time”, to pop hits like “Uptown Girl” and “Tell Her About It”, this album has it all.
6: Glass Houses (1980)
Glass Houses is the seventh studio album by Billy Joel, released on May 10, 1980. The album was produced by Phil Ramone and features the singles “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” and “You May Be Right”.
Glass Houses is a return to form for Billy Joel. After the success of 52nd Street, Joel took a break from making albums and focused on touring. When he returned to the studio, he was ready to rock.
The album features some of Joel’s best-known songs, including “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” and “You May Be Right”. The album also features the classic Billy Joel song “Sometimes a Fantasy”, which is a great song about infidelity.
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The sounds of glass house echo heavy synth and choppy rhythms amidst sonic changes in punk music during the 1980s. Glass Houses represents a unique story. Pianos don’t dominate the whole album like they do in his previous works. These are guitar, percussion, drum, and synthesized music. It was heavy but poppy. This album is also extremely popular with all of us. The differences between 52nd Street and Glass House are astounding.
52nd Street may be a better Billy Joel album, but its follow-up album Glass Houses is also a rock powerhouse. It is one of Billy Joel’s most political albums, with songs like “You May Be Right” and “Sometimes a Fantasy”. Glass Houses was his statement that he was no longer the Piano Man.
5: Turntiles (1974)
Turnstiles is the fourth studio album by Billy Joel, released on May 19, 1974. The album was produced by Michael Stewart and features the singles “All You Wanna Do Is Dance” and “New York State of Mind”.
Turnstiles is a return to form for Joel after the disappointing sales of his previous album, Piano Man. The album was recorded at a time when Joel was going through a lot of personal turmoil, and it shows in the songs.
Turntiles features some of Joel’s best-known songs, including “New York State of Mind” and McCartney-esque “All You Wanna Do Is Dance”. The album also features the classic Billy Joel song “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)”, which is a great song about the city of New York.
There’s no mysteries underlying in this album. Turnstile is a very public album which celebrates New York. The. Platinum certified, this record reached 124 places in US Billboard 200. Produced originally by William Guerrierio, Joel decided to reject Guercionio’s version and began the album again. The move will be Joel’s first production attempt using his own band instead of a studio musicians.
Simply a great work by Joel and his band. Turnstiles is an important album in Billy Joel’s catalogue, as it is the first album where he began to experiment with different sounds and styles. The album is also a great snapshot of New York City in the 1970s.
4: Piano Man (1973)
Piano Man is the second studio album by Billy Joel, released on November 2, 1973. The album was produced by Michael Stewart and features the singles “Piano Man” and “The Entertainer”.
Piano Man is Billy Joel’s breakthrough album, and it is easy to see why. The album is full of great songs, including the title track, “The Entertainer”, and “Captain Jack”.
With this second album, Joel has taken a huge step forward from his debut album, ‘Cold Spring Harbor’. With the help of Michael Stewart, Joel’s songwriting, style variety, and production all improved within a few years.
Stewart worked on both ‘Piano Man’ and its follow-up, ‘Streetlife Serenade,’ in 1974. The diversity of the album is amazing , with Joel trying his hand at all types of music, from country to rock to pop.
The album’s opener, “Travelin’ Prayer”, is a great example of Joel’s songwriting talent. The song is about a man who is down on his luck and praying for a better life.
“Piano Man” is, of course, the album’s most well-known song. The song is about a piano player in a bar who sings songs about the people he sees.
“The Entertainer” is a tribute to vaudeville performers. “Captain Jack” is a great example of Joel’s pop sensibilities. The song is about a young man who is addicted to drugs.
“Root Beer Rag” is a great example of Joel’s jazz influences. The song is an instrumental and features some great piano playing by Joel.
“Ballad of Billy the Kid” is a great example of Joel’s country influences. The song is about the famous outlaw Billy the Kid.
Few musicians are as famous as Billy Joel, and even fewer are as successful. Joel has sold over 150 million records worldwide and has won six Grammy Awards.
“The Stranger” is Joel’s best-selling album, but “Piano Man” is the album that made him a star. The album is a great example of Joel’s talent as a songwriter and musician.
3: ‘Songs in the Attic’ (1981)
Coming in third on my list of Billy Joel albums ranked is ‘Songs in the Attic’. It is Billy Joel’s fifth studio album, and it was released on June 2, 1981. The album was recorded live during Joel’s 1980 tour of Japan and features the singles “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” and “She’s Right on Time”.
‘Songs in the Attic’ is a great album of live versions of some of Billy Joel’s best-known songs. The album features live versions of “New York State of Mind”, “Captain Jack”, and “Say Goodbye to Hollywood”.
The live versions of the songs are different enough from the studio versions to make them interesting, but they are still recognizably the same songs.
The live versions of the songs are also longer than the studio versions, which allows Joel to show off his piano playing skills. The album features classics performed live to captivated audiences, something that any Billy Joel fan would love.
“She’s Right on Time” is the only new song on the album, and it is a great example of Joel’s pop sensibilities. The song is about a woman who is always late.
When he couldn’t make a new album with Columbia in 1981, he figured it might be an interesting idea for a live album utilizing all his earlier material. It was Joel’s first live record and was intended primarily to satisfy his die-hard fans with a collection of songs that were difficult to find elsewhere.
‘Songs in the Attic’ is a great album for both Joel’s fans and newcomers alike. The album is a great example of Joel’s talent as a songwriter and musician.
2: 52nd Street (1978)
In second place on my list of Billy Joel albums ranked is ’52nd Street’. It is Billy Joel’s seventh studio album, and it was released on October 13, 1978. The album features the singles “My Life”, “Big Shot”, and “Honesty”.
’52nd Street’ is a great album of pop songs. The album features the singles “My Life”, “Big Shot”, and “Honesty”.
“My Life” is a great example of Joel’s pop sensibilities. The song is about a woman who is always late. “Big Shot” is a great example of Joel’s rock influences. The song is about a man who is trying to make it in the music business.
The album also features the songs “Zanzibar”, “Stiletto”, and “Rosalinda’s Eyes”. The 52nd Street album by Billy Joel is a follow-up of “The Stranger” album. A perfect title due to its strong jazz aspects and musical content. It has been arguably the highest musicianship in Billy Joel’s career. Brilliant songwriting throughout with complex chord progressions.
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Billy was absolutely devastated by Stranger’s success and knew it would be wrong to repeat the formula. Billy Joel reportedly wanted something entirely different. 52nd Street does not exactly surpass The Stranger but has been wildly successful. It was an enormous hit on radio.
Following The Stranger, the album had an amazing amount of pressure . The album met and exceeded any and all expectations. If you are looking for a great album of pop songs, then ’52nd Street’ is the album for you.
1: The Stranger (1977)
This was no real close match. The Stranger is far superior to any of Billy Joel’s other albums. It is Billy Joel’s sixth studio album, and it was released on September 29, 1977. The album features the singles “Just the Way You Are”, “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)”, and “Only the Good Die Young”.
All three of these songs were huge hits, and they are still popular today. The album launched in a rocket and the songs were played all over your trip between 1977 and 1978. The album was a commercial success, selling over 10 million copies in the United States alone. It is also one of the best-selling albums of all time, with over 30 million copies sold worldwide.
The Stranger is widely considered to be Billy Joel’s best album, and it is certainly his most popular. It is a must-have for any fan of Billy Joel, or anyone who enjoys good music.
Conclusion for Ranking Billy Joel Albums
In conclusion, these are the 13 best Billy Joel albums ranked. If you are a fan of Billy Joel, or if you are looking for a great album of pop songs, then you should check out one or more of these albums. Thanks for reading!
Below are some common questions and fun Billy Joel trivia for you.
How Many studio albums has Billy Joel released?
Billy Joel has released 13 studio albums.
What is the name of Billy Joel’s first album?
The name of Billy Joel’s first album is ‘Cold Spring Harbor’.
How many Grammy Awards has Billy Joel won?
Billy Joel has won six Grammy Awards.
What is the name of Billy Joel’s best-selling album?
The name of Billy Joel’s best-selling album is ‘The Stranger’.
How many copies has ‘The Stranger’ sold worldwide?
‘The Stranger’ has sold over 30 million copies worldwide.