Glass Houses - A Billy Joel Podcast

Join lifelong Billy Joel fans, Michael and Jack, as they take deep dives in to Billy’s history, songs, albums, tours, band members and more.

EP 042 - Album Retrospective: The Bridge

September 14th, 2021

Almost a decade after the breakout hit album The Stranger, the Billy Joel machine was showing some signs of wear. That strain was evident on his 1986 album The Bridge

 

After a string of multi-platinum, chart-topping, and award-winning records, Billy was worn out and wanted to be home with his family instead of back in the studio. 

 

Meanwhile, relationships were strained between his long-time band mem bers after years and years in and out of tour busses and recording studios. 

 

All this was weighing on Billy and the band as they headed back into the studio to record their followup to An Innocent Man. That album felt light and breezy, and was stacked with bright and bouncy pop hits. By contrast, The Bridge would sound more labored and strained, and would explore more turbulent themes. 

 

But, even one of Billy’s least-regarded albums still contains flashes of brilliance that are worth seeking out. On one hand, the record sounds dated and locked in the 80s. But on the other, it’s like a time capsule to the pop music of that decade. 

 

The album is also dotted with guests that personify the era in which it was recorded while also tracing the roots of Joel’s career and musical influences. 

 

Join us as we dive deep in Billy Joel’s 1986 album The Bridge

 

 

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EP 041 - In Conversation with Richie Cannata

August 31st, 2021

Here’s an interview with Richie Cannata. That’s it. No great fanfare, no big intro. We just had a blast talking with Billy Joel’s longtime sax, organ, flute, accordion, and piano player, and we’re sharing that conversation with you. 

 

There’s a lot of great stuff here: Deep trivia about Billy Joel tracks and live performances, stories about the Lords of 52nd Street reunion and post-pandemic shows, and Richie’s takes on today’s music and recording practices. 

 

Sit back and join us as we chat with Richie Cannata.

 

 

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EP 040 - Year In Review: 1980

August 17th, 2021

The Stranger made Billy Joel a superstar back in 1977. Three years later, his career really launched into overdrive.

 

 

In 1980, Billy was still reaping the benefits of two Grammy-Award winning albums. In March, he took his next step forward by releasing Glass Houses. That album would become a smash hit with a leaner sound that would propel him into the 80s.

 

 

And during the Glass Houses tour, Billy and the band would begin recording live versions of songs from Billy’s back catalog. These tracks would go on to comprise 1981’s Songs In The Attic.

 

 

All this activity made the beginning of the new decade a time where the past, present, and future of Billy’s career all happened at once.

 

Join us as we dig deep into Billy Joel in 1980.

 

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EP 039 - Video Retrospective: Eye of The Storm + More

August 3rd, 2021

In the mid 80s, Billy Joel penned the lyric “After 1986 what else could be new?” If you were to judge that based on his 1989 hit “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” you’d think he meant it.

 

 

But a closer look at that video and the others from the Storm Front album suggest otherwise.

 

 

For this episode we’re looking at Eye Of The Storm. Released in 1990, it’s a home video collection of the videos from the multi-platinum album Storm Front.

 

 

While that album contained many songs about personal relationships and Billy’s life, the videos focus much more on the world at large at the end of the 1980s.

 

 

We’ll dig deep into the five music videos. And, we’ll take a look at a soundcheck and radio broadcast recording from early in the Storm Front tour. 

 

 

Join us as we dig deep into Eye of The Storm and more.

 

 

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EP 038 - Glass Houses Playlist #3

July 20th, 2021

We're back with another playlist episode this week. We have so much fun putting these together and sharing some of our favorite music with you all.

 

Michael is back with more of his favorites over the past several years. From 90s alternative to 2010s soul and singer/songwriters, these have been mainstays for Michael and we are excited to share them with you!

 

Again, if you dig what you hear, we'd appreciate you checking out and picking up some new music by these artists wherever you get your music!

 

 

PLAYLIST #3: 

 

  • ATHENAEUM – “Flat Tire”
  • PAPA VEGAS – “No Destination”
  • THE VERVE PIPE – “Out Like A Lamb”
  • EMERSON HART – “I Wish The Best For You”
  • OUR LADY PEACE – “Somewhere Out There”
  • BLISS 66 – “Not Quite Paradise”
  • 19 WHEELS – “I Want You Here”
  • TYRONE WELLS – “In Between The Lines”
  • THE NIGHT GAME – “The Outfield”
  • OWSLEY – “She’s The One”
  • NINE DAYS – “Still Here”
  • KACEY MUSGRAVES – “Space Cowboy”
  • SPLENDER – “The Loneliest Person I Know”
  • GRAHAM COLTON – “On Your Side”
  • SEBASTIAN KOLE – “Love’s On The Way”

 

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EP 037 - Face to Face Tour 1994 with Elton John

July 6th, 2021

Twenty-seven years ago this month, two titans of pop music teamed up for a run of sold-out shows that would set the tone for tours to come.

 

We’re talking about the first Face to Face tour featuring Billy Joel and Elton John. In the summer of 1994, the two hit-making piano players shared the stage for a then-unprecedented run of twenty-one sold-out shows in the United States.

 

In hindsight, the tour could have been a disaster with a huge crew, two full bands, an exceptionally long show, and even a bout of food poisoning. But audiences loved it, and the pair would go on to team up for a total of seven tours over fifteen years. 

 

It’s been more than a decade since the last Face to Face concert. But, this summer, we’re diving deep into the very first shows featuring Elton John and Billy Joel. 

 

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EP 036 - Concert Classics: Live in Houston, 1979

June 22nd, 2021

By the end of the seventies, Billy Joel had found success with a formula that blended elements of pop, rock, and jazz around a singer-songwriter frame. And, he was about to turn all that on its side. The Live In Houston 1979 bootleg is proof of it.

 

The video features Billy and the Lords of 52nd Street at the Summit in Houston, TX on November 25th. Their sound has been streamlined since the frenetic free-for-all on 1977’s CW Post radio broadcast. But, they’re not quite as settled into the arena stage show they’ll have perfected by 1982’s Live From Long Island. 

 

Instead, this concert presents a top-tier rock and roll band at the top of their game, with an audience of thousands cheering them on. But, for as revelatory as this concert is, it’s shrouded in a bit of mystery. 

 

The show took place well after the 52nd Street tour ended. It was professionally shot and edited, but never officially released. As a result, the only video footage available is grainy and suffering from generation loss. Finally, the show features three songs from the forthcoming Glass Houses. That album would mark a stylistic shift, and Billy even mentions that producer Phil Ramone is in the audience. 

 

But it’s easy enough to put those lingering questions about the how and why to the side and just enjoy the show. And, that’s what we’re doing with this episode. Join us, as we dig deep into Billy Joel: Houston 1979.

 

Date: November 25, 1979
City/State: Houston, TX
Venue: The Summit

The band:

  • Billy Joel - Vocals, Piano, Keyboards
  • Liberty DeVitto - Drums
  • Doug Stegmeyer - Bass, Vocals
  • Russell Javors - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
  • David Brown - Lead Guitar, Vocals
  • Richie Cannata - Saxophone, Flute, Keyboards, Accordion, Vocals

 

The Setlist: 

  1. Only The Good Die Young
  2. Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)
  3. Honesty
  4. My Life
  5. Piano Man
  6. All For Leyna
  7. Prelude / Angry Young Man
  8. New York State of Mind
  9. The Stranger
  10. Sometimes A Fantasy
  11. Root Beer Rag
  12. She's Always A Woman
  13. Stiletto
  14. Zanzibar
  15. You May Be Right
  16. Just The Way You Are
  17. Big Shot
  18. Scenes From An Italian Restaurant
  19. Get It Right The First Time

 

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EP 035 - Album Openers Ranked

June 8th, 2021

An album’s first track has a lot to live up to. The song must engage the listener right away and get them excited for what’s to come. Sometimes, it’s the record’s lead single and hopefully the band’s next hit. Other times, it’s just the song most likely to get people excited. Or, it’s a little of both.

In this episode, we’re giving our opinions on Billy’s best and worst album openers. We are ranking the first songs on his 12 studio pop albums and the live Songs In the Attic. We’ll compare notes, and maybe argue a little, over which ones set up the album perfectly, and which were the least effective.

Join us, as we scratch the surface of every Billy Joel album, with our worst-to-best album opener rankings.

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EP 034 - Album Retrospective: 12 Gardens Live

May 25th, 2021

Usually, a late-career live album is a victory lap, an excuse to tour, or at worst, an excuse to make some extra cash. For Billy Joel, however, it was a sign that he was back on the scene. 

 

Released on June 13, 2006, 12 Gardens Live is a two-disc set. It features performances from Billy’s groundbreaking run of a dozen shows at Madison Square Garden between January 23 and April 24 of that year.

 

In many ways, it feels like a retrospective: You have all the big hits, fan favorites, plus a handful of rarities that even hardcore fans never though they’d hear live. 

 

But, 12 Gardens Live also serves as proof of concept for Billy’s return to touring after a two-year sabbatical. And, it sets the tone for his monthly Garden residency that began in 2014. 

 

With the exception of Mike DelGuidice, who joined the fold in late 2013, the album features the new solidified lineup he’s used ever since. The exception to that is the return of saxophonist Richie Cannata, who played alongside Mark Rivera on this tour. 

 

Other than that, this document laid the groundwork for the next 14 years and, hopefully many more to come. 

 

Join us as we dig deep into 12 Gardens Live.

 

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EP 033 - Year In Review: 1988 + Awards Show Appearances Part 2

May 11th, 2021

Pardon the pun, but for Billy Joel, 1988 was the calm before the storm. 

 

Billy and the band had just come off an exhausting, groundbreaking two-year tour that saw them on four continents. And, they capped it all off with a historic run of six shows in the now-former USSR. Billy was the first pop act from the west to get this kind of access behind the iron curtain. 

 

Behind the scenes, Billy was ready for a break. In fact, he was ready to take some time off even before The Bridge came out in 1986. But, the record label insisted on a new album and tour. 

 

By the time this cycle was done, Billy powered down for a year. Aside from a few cameos, his work as a pop star was on hold. But, he pulled double duty on his work as a Dad. 

 

He spent time with his daughter, Alexa Ray, who was now two years old. And, when he went to work, he appeared on TV shows and in movies that would appeal to kids her age. 

 

The next year would be a busy one:A new album, a new lineup of musicians, and a lawsuit that would drag on for years. His career would look vastly different than it had just 12 months prior. 

 

We’ll get to that year in a future episode. But for now, let’s dig deep into 1988.

 

We also pick up where we left off with our Part 2 of covering Billy Joel's awards show appearances and nominations.

 

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