Wednesday 3/3/21 1am ET: Feature LP: Billy Joel – Turnstiles (1976)

Turnstiles is the fourth studio album by American singer-songwriter Billy Joel, released on May 19, 1976.

Joel recorded Turnstiles in part as a celebration of his return to his native New York City. Three of the album’s tracks reference New York: “Summer, Highland Falls”, “New York State of Mind” and “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)”. It begins with “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” (inspired by The Ronettes song “Be My Baby”) and also includes “I’ve Loved These Days”, a tongue-in-cheek expression of regret at leaving behind Hollywood decadence. In an interview, Joel stated that the lyrics to the song “James” referred to various different people he knew in real life, with the title character being a “composite” of those people. In the song “Prelude/Angry Young Man”, Joel opens and closes the song rapidly hammering the piano, which was meant to simulate the drum part in the song “Wipe Out” by The Surfaris.

The songs were first recorded at Caribou Ranch (near Nederland, Colorado), with members of Elton John’s band (Nigel Olsson on drums and Dee Murray on bass) and produced by Chicago producer James William Guercio. Dissatisfied with the results, Joel took over as producer and returned to New York, where he re-recorded the album in its entirety, with his own touring band, which consisted of Long Island musicians Richie Cannata and the members of the band Topper: Liberty DeVitto, Russell Javors, Howie Emerson, and Doug Stegmeyer. Turnstiles marked the first time that Joel’s band played on one of his studio albums.

The album cover photo was shot in the uptown platform of the New York City Subway’s Astor Place station. According to Joel, each of the characters on the album cover was meant to represent a particular song (e.g., the girl in headphones for “All You Wanna Do is Dance”, the wealthy couple for “I’ve Loved These Days”).

1. “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” 4:36
2. “Summer, Highland Falls” 3:15
3. “All You Wanna Do Is Dance” 3:40
4. “New York State of Mind” 5:58
5. “James” 3:53
6. “Prelude/Angry Young Man” 5:17
7. “I’ve Loved These Days” 4:31
8. “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)” 5:12

Billy Joel – vocals, acoustic piano, electric piano, Moog synthesizer, clavinet, organs
Howie Emerson – electric and acoustic guitars
Russell Javors – electric and acoustic guitars
James Smith – acoustic guitar
Doug Stegmeyer – bass guitar
Liberty DeVitto – drums
Mingo Lewis – percussion
Richie Cannata – saxophones, clarinet
Ken Ascher – orchestral arrangements