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Piano Man Enhanced, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered

4.4 out of 5 stars 134 customer reviews

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Piano Man
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Audio CD, Enhanced, Original recording reissued, October 20, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

His 1973 Columbia Records debut-and first charting album.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 20, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Enhanced, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B00000DCH9
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,079 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Billy Joel Store

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
As Music Director of WMMR in 1972, I booked, produced and mixed this Billy Joel Sigma Sound Show. I was pretty sure "Captain Jack" was a hit the night of live broadcast.

I became convinced when my mother, who was listening at home, called to say she didn't like that song about the suburban kids, especially the masturbate part and the mother makes your bed part.

BINGO! SUBURBAN TEENAGE ANGST!

The fixed drum flub is actually a relief to me -- it's been driving me crazy ever since then.

I am sad old friend Ed Sciaky, the WMMR DJ extraordinaire who announced the show, did not live to see this concert released officially. And I wish my mother was around to finally know this epic musical evening has reached the public, and I was at last credited by Sony/Columbia/Legacy.

Thanks to Jon Takiff for the great notes.

-- Dennis Wilen
7 Comments 35 of 36 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Audio CD
First, if you have never heard the Sigma Sound/WMMR concert before, stop reading and order this. If you have heard it, stop reading and order this. The sonic upgrade is stunning.

Let me qualify my 5 Star rating now. FOR WHAT YOU GET, the material is 5 stars. The album remaster, while not perfect, is much better than earlier Columbia versions. My number one frustration with Billy Joel is the lack of new material for the last 20 years. My number two frustration is Columbia's management of his catalog. (There have been bright spots, like the Stranger 30th Anniversary Set.) But, the Sigma show should not be the second disc of a Piano Man Legacy Edition, it should be the second disc of a newly mixed and mastered Cold Spring Harbor Legacy Edition. And where are the bonus tracks? And lastly, what a gigantic let down when you open this package and see the reproduction of a Columbia Records invitation to a November 1973 Troubador Show to hype the Piano Man album. Where is THAT show (or one like it)?

Billy, give us some new music. And Columbia, give us comprehensive archival releases that befit one of the greatest singer-songwriters of the 1970s (and early 1980s, for that matter).
6 Comments 23 of 24 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Audio CD
Sometimes you DO get what you pay for. If you have an SACD player or even if you don't this CD/SACD disc features probably the best transfer I've heard of "Piano Man" in the digital realm. Joel's second album also generated a minor hit with the title track "Piano Man" but what it is most noticeable for is how it was influenced by The Band and Elton John--the latter's "Tumbleweed Connection" (itself influenced by The Band)clearly informed Joel's songwriting here whether it be about Billy the Kid with it's Aaron Copeland influenced string arrangement (that also at times recalls western scores like those from "The Big Country" and of composer Elmer Bernstein who wrote the score for the seminal western "The Magnficent Seven")or the epic commentary track "Captain Jack" about a suburban teenager's life including drug use to take the edge off his boredom. Each track has its own unique character and Joel manages to embrace a variety of styles from lounge singer to social commentator.

Lyrically this isn't Joel's best album with some lyrics a bit clumsy compared to his later work but the ambition and talent are both on display.

The CD layer sounds terrific and for those who have an SACD player, again, we get additional depth, warmth and a superior soundstage. The SACD layer IS NOT in 5.1 I should note as there are those that might wonder about that. Nevertheless, it sounds warm and captures little details that probably haven't been noticed since the album was first mastered.

Recommended.
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Format: Audio CD
Of the three albums released between 1971 and 1975, "Piano Man" is easily the best of Joel's recorded output from that period. It is by far his most cohesive and polished of the three ("Cold Spring Harbor" and the following year's "Streetlife Serenade" are the other two), and it includes some of the best material in his catalogue.

"Travelin' Prayer" is a mock country number set to a fast paced hodown rhythm as Billy, an admitted atheist Jew from Long Island, feably attempts to ask God to look after his loved one "far across the sea." Though it seems like a filler track, it is actually a very solid number, and the structure of the melody and the way it is arranged on record is nothing short of amazing. The blending of the piano with the bass and drums is beautiful, and the banjo playing is awesome.

Next comes the album's title track, which obviously needs very little to be said. Though Billy has done more complex and impressive material both lyrically and melodically, this song easily personifies Billy and is deserevedly his signature song. A true classic with rich lyrical detail and a timeless melody.

"Ain't No Crime" is a gospel rave-up with beautiful harmonies and tough, rollicking rhythm. This song was a major staple of Billy's live set list in the 1970s', and was even more exciting in that conext.

"You're My Home" is a beautiful, atmospheric ballad with great lyrics and some hugely impressive instrumental work. The guitar strumming on the intro is incredibly beautiful and one of the most complex arrangements Billy ever wrote.
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