'American Restoration' review: Billy Joel stars in season premiere

Billy Joel listens as Rick, who restores everything

Billy Joel listens as Rick, who restores everything from soda machines to golf carts, explains his plans for Joel's 1967 BSA A50 Royal Star. (Credit: Leftfield Pictures)

THE SHOW "American Restoration"

WHEN | WHERE Tuesday night at 10 on History

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Say, who is that dude wandering through Rick Dale's "boneyard" -- the guts of his Las Vegas restoration center, where interesting old things come to die and be restored? He looks familiar. He stops at a piano, plays, moves along. Ah yes, that would be Billy Joel, star of Monday's new-season opener. He wants Dale to restore a 1967 BSA Royal Star, nearly the same kind of motorcycle young Billy raised hell on as a kid growing up on Long Island.


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A "BSA Royal Star 850 was my first bike and this is about as close as I could find to the original one," he says, taking the top off a shipment box that contains a rusted skeleton and a few loose parts. He's in town for a gig and wonders if Rick could put this "basket case" back together. Dale thinks he can, and does, with the help of "Ace" and "Caveman."

MY SAY We know Joel is a man of many talents, though this show reveals a couple of lesser-known ones: He knows his bikes, and he knows how to ham it up for reality shows, or at least one expressly designed for gearheads. A quip here, a joke there, a one-liner over there, and before you know it, he's hijacked the whole hour, even if he's on camera only for about 15 minutes. And watching him wander the Dale boneyard, there's also a glimpse of a career that might have been: Joel loves junk, or at least old things that evoke a lost past. A romantic at heart and by trade, Joel's a natural for "American Restoration." Moreover, he's no idle hobbyist, either, but obviously knows as much as an expert, and tonight's show also offers a nice plug for his Oyster Bay-based 20th Century Cycles, which "reverse restores" cycles, by taking new bikes and morphing them into classic designs. Dale was impressed, and you likely will be, too.

BOTTOM LINE The Piano Man is really a Motorcycle Man. Fun hour.

GRADE B+

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