Down To Earth/Rainbow (1979)
At the time of its release, this Rainbow's third studio album was called "adventurous" and "ambitious" compared to their previous albums. While an emphasis was placed on writing songs with classical tastes in the previous two albums, pop tastes were incorporated in this album probably targeted at American market ('Since You Been Gone' is the most remarkable example. In this song, Ritchie Blackmore played a pop-kind of guitar solo that I had never heard before). However, it is more important to me that Graham Bonnet, my favorite vocalist joined the band. This album is a monumental one for Graham in a sense that it opened the gate for Graham to enter into the hard rock world and he met a good friend there, that is, Cozy Powell, a drummer of the band (Graham and Cozy have established a long-standing relationship until now). Actually, even after Graham left Rainbow, he played the songs contained in this album (such as All Night Long, Since You Been Gone, and Lost In Hollywood) at many concerts and in many albums in his later solo and other projects including Alcatrazz and Impellitteri, which shows how he loves this album. Ritchie's guitar play in this album is also cool and ambitious. He started using many 'bottleneck' plays since this album. His lead play in 'Lost In Hollywood' is one of my favorite.
52nd Street/Billy Joel (1978)
Everybody loves this Grammy best album award winning album. I feel the release of this album was the culmination of his musical career. After this album, he has changed a lot, and turned to a direction which I did not wanted (Glasshouse, next album was O.K., but after that...). He has become too big, turning a truly music-oriented piano man into merely a very rich entertainer. He is no longer what he used to be when he was singing 'I'm the entertainer,' and I am no longer fascinated by his recent music. His pure attitude toward music (and probably his pure living style) was reflected upon this 52nd Street album. Also, this album has the most jazzy flavor among all his albums and it was recorded by a jazzy unit of members who were all technically excellent. Lots of high-tention chords which normal rock musicians don't use are used in this album. This proved Billy's diversified and profound musical talents. What is great about this album is that, in spite of such jazzy flavor, all songs in the album are not hard-listening at all. Anyway, it was surprising that he created a greater album than 'Stranger' album which was thought as the best when it was released, and he made it with a different approach and in a different way.
Regatta De Blanc/The Police (1979)
This album is The Police's second album. Before this album came out, I had known only the name of "THE POLICE" (I had even not listened to their famous tune called "Roxanne" by then). At that time, they were introduced in music magazines as a rising hope among new waver. I thought that new wave music was a kind of punk music which I really hated then. However, the song called "Message in A Bottle" streamed on the radio gave me a clue to correct my misunderstanding, and this album gave me an opportunity to fully comprehend their greatness. Generally, only Sting attracts people's attention, and I admit he is really a good singer. However, both Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers played key roles in the Police's music, not at all inferior to Sting. Copeland is a amazingly high-tech drummer, hard tone of his drumming and his obbligato are absolutely cool. Summers is not a high-tech guitarist, but passages comprised of unique note progression of his own and effective, spatial usage of chorus effects have a big impact.