Tuesday, August 10, 1993

Billy Joel’s River of Dreams released

First posted 5/9/2011; updated 9/22/2020.

River of Dreams

Billy Joel

Released: August 10, 1993

Peak: 13 US, 3 UK, 6 CN, 14 AU

Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, 0.3 UK, 10.1 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: pop/rock singer-songwriter


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. No Man’s Land (8/7/93, 18 AR, 50 CN, 71 CN)
  2. The Great Wall of China
  3. Blonde Over Blue
  4. A Minor Variation
  5. Shades of Grey
  6. All About Soul (11/6/93, 29 US, 6 AC, 32 UK, 9 CN, 34 AU)
  7. Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) (3/26/94, 77 US, 18 AC, 27 CN)
  8. The River of Dreams (7/19/93, 3 US, 1 AC, 3 UK, 2 CN, 1 AU)
  9. Two Thousand Years
  10. Famous Last Words

Total Running Time: 49:10


3.186 out of 5.00 (average of 12 ratings)

About the Album:

“Billy Joel had never taken as much time to record an album as he did with River of Dreams, and its troubled birth is clear upon the first listen.” AMG “His marriage in peril – he and Brinkley would divorce the following year – Joel sounded, not surprisingly, cranky and disillusioned on his final pop album.” DB

“Out of the strife came a few highs (the doo-wop world beat of the title track and the rocking swipe at consumerist culture, No Man’s Land), along with plenty of grating lows (way too much white-soul grunting).” DB “Never before had he recorded an album that sounded so labored, as if it was a struggle for him to write and record the songs.” AMG

He “surrounded himself with ace studio musicians and star producer Danny Kortchmar, all of whom have the effect of deadening an already self-consciously serious set of songs. There are no light moments on the album, either lyrically or musically -- all the songs are filled with middle-age dread, even the two best moments, the gospel-inflected ‘title track’ and his song to his daughter, Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel). Those two songs have the strongest melodies, but they’re not as natural as his best material.” AMG

“Everywhere he tries too hard – the metaphors of The Great Wall of China, the bizarre vocal intro to Shades of Grey, minor-key melodies all over the place. He may be trying different things, but he doesn’t sound comfortable with his detours, and by the end of the record, he sounds as exhausted as the listener feels. By that point, the closing track, Famous Last Words, seems prophetic – River of Dreams feels like a sad close to an otherwise strong career…It’s an unworthy way to depart.” AMG

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