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Charted: October 28, 1978

Rating: 3.583 (average of 6 ratings)

Genre: pop/rock singer/songwriter

Quotable: --

Album Tracks:

  1. Big Shot
  2. Honesty
  3. My Life
  4. Zanzibar
  5. Stiletto
  6. Rosalinda’s Eyes
  7. Half a Mile Away
  8. Until the Night
  9. 52nd Street

All songs written by Billy Joel.

Total Running Time: 40:26


sales in U.S. only 7 million
sales in U.K. only - estimated 100,000
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. --
sales worldwide - estimated 12 million


peak on U.S. Billboard album chart 1 8
peak on U.K. album chart 10

Singles/Hit Songs:

  • My Life (11/4/78) #3 US, #12 UK, #2 AC. Platinum single.
  • Big Shot (2/10/79) #14 US
  • Honesty (4/21/79) #24 US, #9 AC
  • Until the Night (4/28/79) #50 UK


Rated one of the top 1000 albums of all time by Dave’s Music Database. Click to learn more. American Music Awards – Album of the Year, pop/rock. Click to go to awards page. Billboard Magazine’s Album of the Year Album of the Year Grammy winner. Click to go to awards page.

52nd Street
Billy Joel
“Once The Stranger became a hit, Billy Joel quickly re-entered the studio with producer Phil Ramone to record the follow-up, 52nd Street. Instead of breaking from the sound of The Stranger, Joel chose to expand it, making it more sophisticated and somewhat jazzy” (Erlewine).

“Often, his moves sounded as if they were responses to Steely Dan – indeed, his phrasing and melody for Zanzibar is a direct homage to Donald Fagen circa The Royal Scam, and it also boasts a solo from jazz great Freddie Hubbard à la Steely Dan – but since Joel is a working-class populist, not an elitist college boy, he never shies away from big gestures and melodies” (Erlewine).

“Consequently, 52nd Street unintentionally embellishes the Broadway overtones of its predecessor, not only on a centerpiece like Stiletto, but when he’s rocking out on Big Shot. That isn’t necessarily bad, since Joel’s strong suit turns out to be showmanship – he dazzles with his melodic skills and his enthusiastic performances” (Erlewine).

“He also knows how to make a record. Song for song, 52nd Street might not be as strong as The Stranger, but there are no weak songs – indeed, Honesty, My Life, Until the Night, and the three mentioned above are among his best – and they all flow together smoothly, thanks to Ramone’s seamless production and Joel's melodic craftsmanship” (Erlewine).

“It’s remarkable to think that in a matter of three records, Joel had hit upon a workable, marketable formula – one that not only made him one of the biggest-selling artists of his era, but one of the most enjoyable mainstream hitmakers. 52nd Street is a testament to that achievement” (Erlewine).

Review Source(s):

Related DMDB Link(s):

Previous Album: The Stranger (1977) Billy Joel’s DMDB page Next Album: Glass Houses (1980)

Last updated November 20, 2008.