STREETLIFE SERENADE may have been a disappointment to Joel's record company, featuring but one single, "The Entertainer," that barely scraped the Top 40, but it's loaded with songs that came to be signature pieces for the piano man. For years, Joel began his concerts with a piped-in version of the instrumental "The Mexican Connection" and closed them by playing the bittersweet ballad "Souvenir." Another instrumental, the fast and infectious "Root Beer Rag," served as a favorite piano showcase throughout Joel's career, while the snide and clever "The Entertainer" began a career-long obsession with the evils of the pop industry.
This is White Widdow’s second and features big walls of sound throughout. The start of opener “Cry Wolf” reeks of 80s hairspray but quickly moves into a fresher melodic rock groove. The levels are well balanced and whilst there is nothing spectacular musically it is as solid as you would hope from this genre. As the album progresses there is a mix of the genuinely catchy to the DJ friendly and the classic sound allows itself a few opportunities to strut. The songs do try and break away from the traditional structures and whilst certainly not moving into any sort of progressive territory are still an interesting array.
When guitarist Al Caiola (1920) moved to New York after graduating he was quickly hired as a staff musician by CBS, where his skill and adaptability guaranteed him a heavy radio and TV schedule until he left in 1956; he was, in fact, one of the busiest, most successful and respected session men in New York City throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In 1955, at the peak of his success, he recorded “Deep in a Dream” and “Serenade in Blue” for Savoy Records, two albums which focused on a meticulous and reverent treatment of a collection of well-known standards and of his own originals. Technically impeccable, on these Caiola is backed by an excellent rhythm section, with pianist Hank Jones demonstrating his usual warmth and skill, aided by drummer Kenny Clarke and bassist Clyde Lombardi.