The Bridge (Billy Joel album)

The Bridge is the tenth studio album by American singer-songwriter Billy Joel, released on July 25, 1986.[7] 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).

The Bridge
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 25, 1986
LabelFamily Productions/Columbia
ProducerPhil Ramone
Billy Joel chronology
Greatest Hits – Volume I & Volume II
The Bridge
Singles from The Bridge
  1. "Modern Woman"
    Released: May 1986
  2. "A Matter of Trust"
    Released: July 1986
  3. "This Is the Time"
    Released: November 1986
  4. "Baby Grand"
    Released: March 1987[2]
Professional ratings
Review scores
Chicago Tribune(Mixed)[4]
Christgau's Record GuideB[5]
Los Angeles Times(Not favorable)[6]
Rolling Stone(Favorable)[1]

Background edit

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. Another song particularly influenced by the music of another band, "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".

Critical reception edit

Reviewing in Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s (1990), Robert Christgau said: "Maybe [Joel's] youthful lyricism, meaning his knack for the tearjerker, is abandoning him. … Here he's best when he's brassy and literal: failed wise guy in 'Big Man on Mulberry Street,' Ray Charles's coequal on 'Baby Grand.' And even at his most rockin' he's seventy-five years retro whether he likes it or not—whenever he doesn't hit it just right you want to quarantine him for life in Atlantic City."[5]

In a retrospective interview, Joel said: "Not a happy album. I wasn’t simpatico with the musicians, some of whom I’d been working with a long time. I don’t think the material was good; I was pressured by management to put it out too fast. By the end, I sort of gave up caring, which for me was unusual. I remember reading bad reviews and agreeing with them."[8]

Billy later admitted to Rolling Stone that at the time of the album's writing and recording, he was in no mood to be in the studio, saying "Christie and I had just had Alexa, and I'd have much rather have been home with the baby..." This angst over leaving his wife and daughter at home was poured into the album track "Temptation".

Singles edit

Year Single Country Chart Position
1986 "Modern Woman" United States Billboard AC[9] 7
Billboard Hot 100[10] 10
Billboard Mainstream Rock[11] 34
"A Matter of Trust" Australia Kent Music Report 3
United States Billboard Hot 100[10] 10
Billboard Mainstream Rock[11] 14
Billboard AC[9] 17
United Kingdom UK Singles Chart[12] 52
1987 "This Is the Time" United States Billboard AC[9] 1
Billboard Hot 100[10] 18
Billboard Mainstream Rock[11] 32
"Baby Grand" Billboard AC[9] 3
Billboard Hot 100[10] 75

Track listing edit

All songs composed by Billy Joel, except "Code of Silence" written by Joel and Cyndi Lauper.

Side one

  1. "Running on Ice" – 3:15
  2. "This Is the Time" – 4:59
  3. "A Matter of Trust" – 4:09
  4. "Modern Woman" – 3:48
  5. "Baby Grand" (duet with Ray Charles) – 4:02

Side two

  1. "Big Man on Mulberry Street" – 5:26
  2. "Temptation" – 4:12
  3. "Code of Silence" (backing vocals by Cyndi Lauper) – 5:15
  4. "Getting Closer" – 5:00

Personnel edit

  • 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)

Additional personnel


  • Producer – Phil Ramone
  • Production coordinator – Joseph D'Ambrosio
  • Engineer – Jim Boyer
  • Associate engineers – Steve Boyer, David Dickson, Bradshaw Leigh and Fred Tenny.
  • Technical support – Ricki Begin, Peter Bergren, Mark Betts, Steve Buller, Cary Butler, Gary Ciuzio, Ed Evans, Bruce Howell, Joe Lopes, Frank Rodriguez, Billy Rothschild, Joe Salvatto, Audrey Tanaka and Phil Vachon.
  • Support system – Barry Bongiovi, Jim Flynn and The Power Station staff.
  • Digitally recorded at The Power Station, Chelsea Sound and RCA Recording Studios (New York, NY); Evergreen Studios (Burbank, CA).
  • Mixed at The Power Station (New York, NY).
  • Mastering by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound (New York, NY).
  • Acoustic piano supplied by Yamaha.
  • Design – Mark Larson
  • Cover painting – Brad Holland
  • Photography – Patrick Demarchelier
  • Sleeve photos – Larry Busacca, Phil Ramone and Charles Reilly.

Charts edit

Certifications edit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[34] 2× Platinum 200,000^
Japan (Oricon Charts) 250,000[21]
New Zealand (RMNZ)[35] Gold 7,500^
United Kingdom (BPI)[36] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[37] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Billy Joel: The Bridge". September 11, 1986. Archived from the original on May 7, 2016. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  2. ^ "Great Rock Discography". p. 437.
  3. ^ The Bridge at AllMusic
  4. ^ Brogan, Daniel (September 12, 1986). "Turner Outdoes 'Dancer' With 'break Every Rule' Lp > BILLY JOEL, The Bridge, (Columbia)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
  5. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1990). "Billy Joel". Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s. Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-679-73015-X.
  6. ^ Pond, Steve (August 10, 1986). "RECORD RACK > Billy Bites Off Too Much". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 31, 2011.
  7. ^ "RIAA".
  8. ^ "Billy Joel critiques himself". Retrieved January 3, 2022.
  9. ^ a b c d "Billy Joel Chart History: Adult Contemporary". Billboard. Retrieved September 18, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c d "Billy Joel Chart History: Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved September 18, 2020.
  11. ^ a b c "Billy Joel Chart History: Mainstream Rock". Billboard. Retrieved September 18, 2020.
  12. ^ "BIlly Joel | full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 18, 2020.
  13. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 156. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  14. ^ "Billy Joel – The Bridge –" (ASP) (in German). Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  15. ^ Inc, Nielsen Business Media (August 30, 1986). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. – via Internet Archive. {{cite book}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  16. ^ "Top Albums/CDs – Volume 45, No. 6". RPM. November 1, 1986. Archived from the original (PHP) on December 3, 2013. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  17. ^ " Billy Joel – The Bridge" (ASP). (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  18. ^ Inc, Nielsen Business Media (September 6, 1986). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. – via Internet Archive. {{cite book}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  19. ^ Pennanen, Timo (2006). Sisältää hitin – levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972 (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava. p. 263. ISBN 978-951-1-21053-5.
  20. ^ "Classifiche". Musica e dischi (in Italian). Retrieved May 31, 2022. Set "Tipo" on "Album". Then, in the "Artista" field, search "Billy Joel".
  21. ^ a b Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
  22. ^ " – Billy Joel – The Bridge" (ASP). Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  23. ^ " Billy Joel – The Bridge" (ASP). Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  24. ^ " Billy Joel – The Bridge" (ASP). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  25. ^ " – Billy Joel – The Bridge". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  26. ^ "Billy Joel > Artist > Official Charts". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  27. ^ "Billy Joel Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  28. ^ "Album Search: Billy Joel – The Bridge" (in German). Media Control. Archived from the original (ASP) on September 3, 2014. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  29. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  30. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1986". RPM. December 27, 1986. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
  31. ^ 年間アルバムヒットチャート 1986年(昭和61年) [Japanese Year-End Albums Chart 1986] (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
  32. ^ "Top 100 Albums of '87". RPM. December 26, 1987. Retrieved November 20, 2013.
  33. ^ "Billboard 200 Albums  – Year-End – 1987". Billboard. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  34. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Billy Joel – The Bridge". Music Canada. Retrieved July 25, 2012.
  35. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – Billy Joel – The Bridge". Recorded Music NZ.
  36. ^ "British album certifications – Billy Joel – The Bridge". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved July 25, 2012.Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type The Bridge in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  37. ^ "American album certifications – Billy Joel – The Bridge". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved July 25, 2012.