Saturday, October 25, 2008


Attila was simply a group that came from the ashes of Joel's 1960's band The Hassles, as the only other member of this group was ex-Hassles drummer Jon Small. That's right: Billy Joel and Jon Small, no one else! Billy Joel sticks with Hammond organ and vocals (no piano!), and Jon Small on drums. And this is so far removed from the cheese Joel would later do it's hard to believe! Right away you get blasted with "Wonder Woman" with aggressive hard rock vocals and heavily fuzzed Hammond organ. "California Flash" comes to show the humorous side of Joel, about a stripper who got caught and was arrested. "Revenge Is Sweet", is, as you guess, another really harsh number with some very hostile lyrics about taking revenge. I really love those organ passages. Then comes the two part "Amplifier Fire", the first part is quite jazzy, which demonstrates that Jon Small's drumming is heavily jazz-influenced. There's tons of great organ work influenced by jazz and blues. Then comes the second part which is more brutal, with some psychedelic overtone. Plus I dig those wordless voices! "Rollin' Home" and "Holy Moses" are more ruthlessly agressives piece that are so unbridled that they make the likes of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath seem like the Moody Blues! "Tear This Castle Down" is a totally wonderful piece, I really like the changes in this piece. Every time I hear this piece, I trip out that a future cheesy artist would do something like this, so different from what you expect him to do! (Too bad Kenny G. never tried anything like this!) "Brain Invasion" is the closing instrumental piece, closer to prog rock territory, bringing to mind The Nice, dominated by jazzy drumming and Hammond organ.

Both All Music Guide and popular opinion will lead you to believe that the Attila album is the worst album ever made. I couldn't disagree more. For one thing I am not a fan of Billy Joel by any stretch of the imagination, and to see him do something as cool as this, I am shocked! Fans of Billy Joel might just want this as a souvenir, fans of Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, and Quatermass would get a kick off this.

Billy Joel himself would want you to forget Attila. He deemed the album "psychedelic bullshit". It was also a bad time in his life (he attempted to take his life). It was the first (and last time) he'd ever try heavy metal, as his solo career went the pop singer/songwriter route that gave him lots of fame and big hits.

Although the original LP was released on Epic and now a major collector's item, it was luckily reissued. I suggest the 1985 BackTrac reissue as it contains the complete album, rather than partial Hassles/Attila material. I don't expect everyone to like this album, many will hate it, but if you fancy Billy Joel going heavy metal and can find it for cheap, get it! Reviewer: Ben Miler

Tracks :
  1. Wonder Woman 3:38
  2. California Flash 3:32
  3. Revenge is Sweet 4:00
  4. Amplifier Fire 7:39 (Part I - Godzilla; Part II - March of the Huns)
  5. Rollin' Home 4:52
  6. Tear This Castle Down 5:49
  7. Holy Moses 4:30
  8. Brain Invasion 5:41
Link : @

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