Billy Joel Piano Man

Funny conversation my sister and I had the other day about music. She was talking about how at her school during instruction they are only allowed to listen to music that is free of cursing, derogatory messages and the like. I couldn’t agree more, that sort of music really isn’t apropriate in any professional setting. I laughed further when she mentioned that jazz and blues were played and some of the girls in her class became twisted because it wasn’t the emo techno they are used to hearing. Sadly, they are missing out.

As a product of the late 70s and huge fan of 80s music I have been exposed to a myriad of genre’s with music. Some of my favorite 45’s to listen to (by the way those are a type of record…a.k.a. vinyl) were The Beattles, The Beach Boys, Led Zepplin, and in the 80s on tape I listened to and fell in love with Billy Joel. Especially when he performed “Uptown Girl” and his then wife Christie Brinkley starred in the video. Oh how everyone thought at the time they were royalty of sorts with his magical voice and her stunning good looks. How I digress.

But I have always loved Billy Joel. I danced at my wedding to Billy Joel’s “Just the way you are,” my husband and I celebrated on a trip to Las Vegas listening to “Piano Man” and finally when I had my twins, my son would only fall asleep to Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” or “Songs from an Italian restaurant.” I have videos of my son Seth and his sister Sara falling asleep to Billy’s music because he has such a melodic voice and his music is soothing and full of talent.

Imagine my excitement when I was told that Billy was releasing a commemorative CD to celebrate his 40 years in music. Yes, 40 years, almost as I am old, this man has been touching the lives of people where they can recall moments in their lives, as I have, where they heard one of his songs. Two very special released CD’s are available, Piano Man (Legacy Edition) and Billy Joel – The Complete Albums Collection:

Columbia/Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, is commemorating forty years of Billy Joel’s career as a solo recording artist with a pair of historic releases–a limited edition Billy Joel – The Complete Albums Collection boxed set and a two-disc Legacy Edition of  1973’s Piano Man album (exclusively featuring a long-lost fabled radio concert from 1972)–each appealing to aficionados of the iconic American singer-songwriter-performer.

Billy Joel – The Complete Albums Collection brings together for the first time, in one elegantly designed box, the artist’s complete catalog of 14 essential titles, from 1971’s Cold Spring Harbor through 1979’s Grammy-winning Album of The Year 52nd Street and 1981’s live Songs In The Attic to 2001’s Fantasies & Delusions, the first album of Billy’s classical compositions.  Each album has been recently remastered in 24 bit audio for this edition and comes in cardboard jackets replicating the original album covers and sleeves.  Included in the box are:

1. Cold Spring Harbor (1971)

2. Piano Man (1973)

3. Streetlife Serenade (1974)

4. Turnstiles (1976)

5. The Stranger (1977)

6. 52nd  Street (1978)

7. Glass Houses (1980)

8. Songs In The Attic (1981)

9. The Nylon Curtain (1982)

10. An Innocent Man (1983)

11. The Bridge (1986)

12. Storm Front (1989)

12. River Of Dreams (1993)

14, Fantasies & Delusions (2001)

15. Collected Additional Masters (1985—2007)

“This has been a long time coming, putting all my albums into one package,” said Billy in a recent in-depth interview for The Complete Albums Collection.  “I’d never seen them all together in one place until I got the box set.  It represents a lot of work! It’s a little overwhelming, actually, looking at each individual album and remembering how much writing and recording, the time spent arranging and producing everything that went into each album.”

In addition to offering brand-new remasters of every Billy Joel studio album, Billy Joel – The Complete Albums Collection includes two lavish 60-page booklets, printed lyrics to every Billy Joel composition, a new Q&A with Billy conducted by noted music journalist Steve Morse, and a bonus disc of 17 rare and non-album recordings including “Elvis Presley Boulevard” (B-side of the “Allentown” single, 1982); the live cover version of the Beatles’ “I’ll Cry Instead” (B-side of “An Innocent Man,” 1983); “House Of Blue Light” (B-side of “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” 1989); and “You Picked A Real Bad Time” (B-side of “All About Soul,” 1993).  “You’re Only Human (Second Wind)” and “The Night Is Still Young” are outtakes that did not see light of day until 1985.

Several tracks on the bonus disc originated as Billy Joel’s contributions to various multi-artist movie soundtracks, notably his covers of the Elvis Presley hits “Heartbreak Hotel” and “All Shook Up,” both from 1992’s Honeymoon In Vegas.  Billy covered Lloyd Price’s 1959 hit, “Where Were You On Our Wedding Day,” for the 1999 movie, Runaway Bride, and Duke Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood” for A League Of Their Own in 1992.  In 1982, Billy Joel contributed his original “Nobody Knows But Me” to In Harmony II, a Columbia LP to benefit Sesame Street/Children’s Television Workshop.

Other cover tunes on the bonus disc range from Bob Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love” and Leonard Cohen’s “Light as the Breeze” to the Gerry Goffin-Carole King standard “Hey Girl” (Freddie Scott, 1963).  In 1991, Billy Joel contributed “When You Wish Upon A Star” to Columbia’s Disney tribute album, Simply Mad About The Mouse.  And in 2001, Billy Joel sang the Beach Boys’ “Don’t Worry Baby” at the Radio City Music Hall All-Star Tribute to Brian Wilson concert.

The exclusive bonus disc included on Billy Joel – The Complete Albums Collection closes with “All My Life,” a 2007 single (which marked Billy’s first newly-written song since 1993’s River of Dreams) now making its first appearance on an album.

I immediately tore into my Piano Man CD just to hear Billy Joel sing as he did forty years ago. I got goose bumps, I recalled memories myself, I called my mother and reveled in the memories she had when listening to Billy Joel. He has touched many generations and his music is well known and transcends time. If looking for a gift for your music aficionado or someone who is as big of fan of Billy Joel as myself this would be a wonderful gift.

“Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of Piano Man – The Legacy Edition at no cost in order to test the products’ abilities and give my own personal opinions on it. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but were not influenced by the company or the free product provided.”

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