Tuesday 7/12/22 8pm ET: Feature LP: Billy Joel – The Bridge (1986)

The Bridge is the tenth studio album by American singer-songwriter Billy Joel, released on July 9, 1986. It was Joel’s last studio album produced by Phil Ramone as well as the last to feature Joel’s long-time bassist Doug Stegmeyer and rhythm guitarist Russell Javors. The album yielded several successful singles, including “A Matter of Trust” (peaking at No. 10), “Modern Woman” (which also appeared on the Ruthless People soundtrack, peaking at No. 10), and “This Is the Time” (peaking at No. 18).

Joel began work on the album—on which two of his major influences (Ray Charles and Steve Winwood) made guest appearances—in 1985. Charles sang a duet with Joel on the song “Baby Grand”, and Winwood played Hammond organ on the song “Getting Closer”; Charles and Winwood later covered “Baby Grand” and “Getting Closer” respectively in concert. Other notable musicians who made guest appearances on the album include jazz musicians Ron Carter and Michael Brecker, who both played on the jazzy track “Big Man on Mulberry Street”.

The album also had some New wave influences. For instance, the first song, “Running on Ice”, is heavily influenced by the music of the Police, and “Modern Woman” borrows heavily from the styles of Huey Lewis and the News. The final song recorded for the album, “Code of Silence”, featured Cyndi Lauper who contributed backing vocals and received co-writing credit for the lyrics; she later covered that song herself in concert. Joel would return the favor by contributing backing vocals on Lauper’s song “Maybe He’ll Know” for her 1986 album True Colors.

The Bridge was Joel’s last album to carry the “Family Productions” logo which had appeared on all of Joel’s albums up to that time as part of a deal that Columbia Records made to get Joel out of his first recording contract with Artie Ripp’s Family Productions. In the closing song of the album—”Getting Closer”—Joel makes several of what are clearly attacks and observations on the iron-clad contract with Ripp, with references to “my stolen youth”, “all the conmen and their acrobats who stomped me in the ground”, and “I must live up to contracts”.

“Running on Ice” 3:15
“This Is the Time” 4:59
“A Matter of Trust” 4:09
“Modern Woman” 3:48
“Baby Grand” (duet with Ray Charles) 4:02
“Big Man on Mulberry Street” 5:26
“Temptation” 4:12
“Code of Silence” (backing vocals by Cyndi Lauper) 5:15
“Getting Closer” 5:00

Billy Joel – lead and backing vocals, acoustic piano (1-3, 5–9), synthesizers (1–4, 6–8), electric guitar (3), Fender Rhodes (9)
David Brown – guitar (1–4, 6, 8, 9), 12-string acoustic guitar (8)
Russell Javors – guitar (1–4, 6, 8, 9)
Liberty DeVitto – drums (1–4, 6–9), percussion (9)
Doug Stegmeyer – bass guitar (1–4, 6, 7, 8)
Mark Rivera – tenor saxophone (4), alto saxophone (7)
Rob Mounsey – synthesizer (1), orchestration (2, 4, 6)
Jeff Bova – synthesizer (3, 8), orchestration (7)
Ray Charles – acoustic piano (5), lead vocals (5)
Steve Winwood – Hammond B3 organ (9)
Dean Parks – guitar (5)
John McCurry – guitar (9)
Neil Stubenhaus – bass guitar (5)
Ron Carter – acoustic bass (6)
Neil Jason – bass guitar (9)
Vinnie Colaiuta – drums (5)
Jimmy Bralower – percussion (4)
Eddie Daniels – alto saxophone (6)
Michael Brecker – tenor saxophone (6)
Ronnie Cuber – baritone saxophone (6)
Dave Bargeron – trombone (6)
Marvin Stamm – trumpet (6)
Alan Rubin – trumpet (6)
Don Brooks – harmonica (8)
Patrick Williams – arrangements (5)
Philippe Saisse – orchestration (7)
Peter Hewlett – backing vocals (1)
Cyndi Lauper – harmony vocals (8)