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The Essential Billy Joel Original recording remastered

228 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, October 2, 2001
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Frequently Bought Together

The Essential Billy Joel + Elton John - Greatest Hits 1970-2002 + Billy Joel Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 & 2
Price for all three: $45.40

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A full 34 of his hits plus two newly recorded tunes! Every favorite's here- Piano Man; Just the Way You Are; My Life; You May Be Right; Tell Her About It; Uptown Girl; We Didn't Start the Fire; Only the Good Die Young; It's Still Rock and Roll to Me; The River of Dreams; Honesty; Allentown , and more.

Early in his career, Billy Joel seemed cynical about fame, even as that distrust bore strange fruit: mainstream superstardom (thanks to "Just the Way You Are," "Honesty," and "My Life") and multiple Grammy awards, as well as the critic's-whipping-boy status that went with them. Maybe it was that restlessness--or undiluted cynicism--that inspired left turns into roots and nostalgia (the spunky "It's Still Rock & Roll to Me," "You May Be Right," "Uptown Girl," and "The Longest Time") as his career peaked. Perhaps not surprisingly, not long after Joel's songs seemed to find their most satisfying balance of angst and mature reflection on songs like "Storm Front" and "River of Dreams," he threatened to bolt the pop music business altogether. The 2001 recordings of "Waltz No. 1" and "Invention in C Minor" that round out this set are the unlikely products of Joel's commitment to classical music. Billy Joel remains both a true, if oft-lambasted, American pop icon and that rarest of animals: a bonafide crowd-pleaser with a serious case of 'tude. Both are well chronicled here. --Jerry McCulley

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Disc 1:

Song TitleArtist Time Price
  1. Piano Man [Clean]Billy Joel 5:36$1.29  Buy MP3 
  2. You're My Home [Clean]Billy Joel 3:11$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Captain Jack [Clean]Billy Joel 7:16$1.29  Buy MP3 
  4. The Entertainer [Clean]Billy Joel 3:39$1.29  Buy MP3 
  5. Say Goodbye To Hollywood [Clean]Billy Joel 4:36$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. Miami 2017 (I've Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway) [Clean]Billy Joel 5:12$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. New York State Of Mind [Clean]Billy Joel 6:02$1.29  Buy MP3 
  8. She's Always a Woman [Clean]Billy Joel 3:19$1.29  Buy MP3 
  9. Movin' Out (Anthony's Song) [Clean]Billy Joel 3:27$1.29  Buy MP3 
10. Only the Good Die YoungBilly Joel 3:53$1.29  Buy MP3 
11. Just the Way You Are [Clean]Billy Joel 4:48$1.29  Buy MP3 
12. Honesty [Clean]Billy Joel 3:51$1.29  Buy MP3 
13. My Life [Clean]Billy Joel 4:42$1.29  Buy MP3 
14. It's Still Rock and Roll to MeBilly Joel 2:57$1.29  Buy MP3 
15. You May Be Right [Clean]Billy Joel 4:11$1.29  Buy MP3 
16. Don't Ask Me Why [Clean]Billy Joel 2:57$1.29  Buy MP3 
17. She's Got a Way (Live)Billy Joel 2:59$1.29  Buy MP3 
18. Allentown [Clean]Billy Joel 3:50$0.99  Buy MP3 

Disc 2:

Song TitleArtist Time Price
  1. Goodnight Saigon [Clean]Billy Joel 7:02$1.29  Buy MP3 
  2. An Innocent ManBilly Joel 5:18$1.29  Buy MP3 
  3. Uptown Girl [Clean]Billy Joel 3:14$1.29  Buy MP3 
  4. The Longest Time [Clean]Billy Joel 3:36$1.29  Buy MP3 
  5. Tell Her About ItBilly Joel 3:49$1.29  Buy MP3 
  6. Leave A Tender Moment Alone [Clean]Billy Joel 3:51$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. A Matter Of Trust [Clean]Billy Joel 4:08$1.29  Buy MP3 
  8. Baby GrandBilly Joel duet with Ray Charles 4:03$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. I Go To Extremes [Clean]Billy Joel 4:20$1.29  Buy MP3 
10. We Didn't Start The Fire [Clean]Billy Joel 4:48$0.99  Buy MP3 
11. Leningrad [Clean]Billy Joel 4:03$0.99  Buy MP3 
12. "The Downeaster 'Alexa'" (Official Music Video)Billy Joel 3:42$1.29  Buy MP3 
13. And So It Goes [Clean]Billy Joel 3:36$1.29  Buy MP3 
14. The River of Dreams [Clean]Billy Joel 4:06$1.29  Buy MP3 
15. All About Soul (Remix)Billy Joel 5:57$0.99  Buy MP3 
16. Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) [Clean]Billy Joel 3:30$1.29  Buy MP3 
17. Waltz no. 1 (Nunley's Carousel) [Clean]Billy Joel 6:52$0.99  Buy MP3 
18. Invention In C minor [Clean]Billy Joel0:59$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 2, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Columbia Records
  • Run Time: 151 minutes
  • ASIN: B00005OSX8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (228 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,177 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Ulrey on November 29, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Hmm. An interesting animal we have here. Ostensibly this is an abbreviated version of Joel's greatest hits box set compressed by one disc, but there are just enough omissions and semi-obscure album cuts to throw that description off just a hair. Most of the album cuts come at the very beginning and the very end of his career. "You're My Home" and "Miami 2017" pop up early on to the bewilderment of most casual listeners, and disc two ends with a pair of Joel's classical numbers. In both cases these songs sound out of place on a collection otherwise chock full of recognizable classics. Since most people purchasing "The Essential Billy Joel" are going to be those looking for the hits, it's worth taking a look into what's available here in that regard.

With three volumes of Greatest Hits collections already under his belt (the first two only available on a 2CD set, like this one), there's certainly room for confusion in the Billy Joel discography. To simplify things, since "Essential" is more or less a condensed version of those previous collections we need only concern ourselves with what's missing. The following songs from the first two volumes of "Greatest Hits" are omitted from "Essential":

The Stranger

Scenes from an Italian Restaurant

Big Shot


*You're Only Human (Second Wind)

*The Night Is Still Young

* These latter two songs are not available on other Billy Joel studio albums as they were recorded specially as an incentive to buy the original "Greatest Hits Vol. 1 & 2". For this very reason these are serious omissions as both songs should be familiar even to casual fans.
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154 of 173 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Cosci on October 17, 2001
Format: Audio CD
While this "Essential" collection has some positive qualities to it, the negative qualities are far more glaring and prevent this from being of any use to an already dedicated Billy Joel Fan. Let's look at the problems:
1) Every song on these two CDs is available in the exact same format on another CD - none of which is hard to come by. To any fan who has collected all of Billy Joel's albums - this album is entirely useless.
2) As many people have pointed out, this album has failed to include what is arguably Billy Joel's best song, and certainly one of his most popular songs in live performances - Scenes From an Italian Restaurant. There is no way, and I stress NO WAY, that any "essential" collection of Billy Joel material would omit this song.
3) This album has also removed key hits from Billy's repertoire including Big Shot, Pressure, and This is the Time. Although the album does try to make up for this by adding some classic, often overlooked gems (such as Miami 2017), it fails by not only adding some less essential material (You're My Home), but failing to add some more deserving fare (Angry Young Man, No Man's Land).
4) The inclusion of the two classical pieces on the end is less a problem than an enigma. Why are they there? Die hard fans who don't want to buy the full classical album will probably not need to buy this collection just to sample those two songs. Casual fans probably are buying this album for the pop material, and have no need for the two samples. While the classical tracks hold their own merit and help to display the versatility of Billy Joel, they don't fit on an essential collection.
So, why this collection? It's cheaper than buying all of his albums.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By LizGraphix on November 17, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I give this 5 stars because it is PRIME Billy Joel but, only 3 stars as a compilation because it lacks what most die-hard fans would consider truly essential work. Hence, the (averaged) 4 star rating. Where are, "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant," "The Stranger," "Highland Summer Falls," "Prelude/Angry Young Man" and "Big Shot"
For anyone who watched "Billy Joel in His Own Words" on A&E, which also served as a promo piece for this compilation and for his "Billy Joel: Fantasies & Delusions," you heard Highland Summer Falls ... a wonderful yet, underrated work.
But hey, it's 2001 and many of us can burn our own compilations to CDs (I hear the record industry cringing at the thought). DO buy this title. Then burn a third CD from the rest of your Billy Joel collection to include the missing tunes (if they're important to you). Add the new CD to this jewel case ... and you WILL have the ultimate Billy Joel compilation.
Billy Joel is truly a cornerstone in the foundation of contemporary music ... what IS on this compilation will not disappoint!
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Neal Reynolds VINE VOICE on May 29, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Billy Joel is an artist that belongs in your collection of notable pop singer/writers, but I am not sure that this is your best choice. Look over the selections in Volumes 1 & 2 of his greatest hits, because that may well be more what you're looking for.
This collection does emphasize his development through a chronological arrangement of the pieces, and it does bring one right up to date with a taste of his classical composing. And it has his basic early signature hits such as "Piano Man", "Captain Jack", "New York State Of Mind", "Only The Good Die Young", and "Just The Way You Are". and a fair taste of later popular radio hits including "Uptown Girl", "Allentown", "We Didn't Start The Fire" and "River of Dreams". So along with two excerpts from the classical "Fantasies & Delusions" CD, the high spots are covered, but much is missing. So compare what you're getting with this one with what you'll get with the two greatest hits albums.
In all, definitely not a bad set, just one that you might not find the best.
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