Streetlife Serenade

Streetlife Serenade is the third studio album by American recording artist Billy Joel, released on October 11, 1974, by Columbia Records. The follow-up to Piano Man (1973), it was his last release until 1993's River of Dreams to be recorded mostly with session musicians. While Joel himself sang and played piano and other keyboards, some of his backing musicians—guitarists Don Evans and Al Hertzberg, and banjo/pedal steel guitarist Tom Whitehorse—played on the album. Joel also used synthesizers for the first time, namely the Moog synthesizer.

Streetlife Serenade
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 11, 1974
StudioDevonshire Sound Studios, North Hollywood, California
LabelFamily Productions/Columbia
ProducerMichael Stewart
Billy Joel chronology
Piano Man
Streetlife Serenade
Singles from Streetlife Serenade
  1. "The Entertainer"
    Released: 1974
Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideC[2]
Rolling StoneUnfavorable[3]

The album peaked at No. 35 on the charts, eventually selling more than one million copies. That was less than its predecessor, and marked the beginning of Joel's frosty relationship with critics and the music industry in general. Joel's live shows in the 1970s frequently featured the instrumental "Root Beer Rag" and the short song "Souvenir", which Joel often played as the final encore.

Live versions of "Streetlife Serenader" and "Los Angelenos" appeared on Joel's first live album, Songs in the Attic (1981). A live version of "The Entertainer" appeared on Joel's 2006 album 12 Gardens Live.

Joel said that he had been touring in clubs and theatres and opening for big acts such as The Beach Boys, thus leaving him little time to write new songs, but he was under pressure to put out a new album after Piano Man. He also says that he did not have many new songs, hence the inclusion of two instrumentals – "The Mexican Connection" and "Root Beer Rag". The back cover features a barefooted Joel sitting in a chair looking cross; Joel says that he had had his wisdom teeth extracted two days before the shoot.[4] The front cover is a painting by Brian Hagiwara of a hotel and cafe located at 651 South Centre Street in Los Angeles, California.[5]

In a retrospective interview Joel said of the album: "Interesting musical ideas, but nothing to say lyrically. I was trying to be Debussy in the title track — it didn’t work."[6]

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