After releasing a live album in 1981, Billy Joel went back into the studio and spent a full year creating what he hoped would be his ultimate masterpiece or his "Sergeant Peppers," as he puts it. In 1982, The Nylon Curtain was released. After putting out a jazz album in '78 and a power pop/rock album in '80, Joel once again reinvented himself with this album. The album contains very obscure sounding songs with a lot of influence from the Beatles.
Though not a huge hit album, there were a few tracks that gained mainstream popularity, such as "Allentown," the social commentary song about the plight of the midwestern factory worker and the very intense "Pressure," with its signature, Tchaikovsky-esque organ riff. The album also contains some more psychedelic sounding tracks such as "Surprises," and "Scandinavian Skies" which is about Joel's own experience the one time he tried heroin.
The album title is presumably a play on The Iron Curtain as a reference to the USSR with a nod to the prevalence of nylon in all facets of life. The overall themes of the album are the decline of the American dream and the tension of the Cold War. The original cover portrays an illustration of cookie cutter, track housing with an almost nuclear orange sky. In redesigning this cover, I wanted to create a look that embodied the tensions and now outdated modernity of the time. I researched computers from the early 1980s and came across an advertisement for the Heathkit H89 All-In-One computer. The general dullness of the ad conveys perfectly the themes of the album. The track housing on the screen is an homage to the original cover.