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The Stranger Enhanced, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered

242 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Enhanced, Original recording reissued, October 20, 1998
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Product Description

His 1977 #2 smash, with Just the Way You Are , and more.

This, pop superstar Joel's breakout LP, came years after he first hit the charts with the novelty-ish "Piano Man." In the meantime, the New York-based songwriter released two lackluster and stylistically confused platters that blunted interesting songs with a sound that was neither Elton mellow nor Elton attitude. Produced by Phil Ramone, The Stranger took those who had written Joel off as a one-hit wonder by surprise ("Just the Way You Are" was among the biggest hits of 1977) and it remains a solid introduction to Joel's restless muse at a crucial point in his career. It invited a few comparisons to Bruce Springsteen, with its prominent sax breaks, hard-edged rebel-rockers ("Only the Good Die Young"), and slice-of-life dramatics ("Scenes From an Italian Restaurant"), recounting life in a lower middle-class (Eastern Urban) setting; but Joel's chameleonic, formalist approach to pop wasn't to be so easily pigeonholed (Glass Houses, The Nylon Curtain, An Innocent Man...). --Don Harrison
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 20, 1998)
  • Original Release Date: 1977
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Enhanced, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B00000DCHC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (242 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,902 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Lonya VINE VOICE on April 25, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I have always suspected that certain musicians, Bill Joel and Paul Simon come to mind, resent being told by fans that one of their earlier albums remains a great favorite. Both Joel & Simon have graduated, apparently, from musician to artist and I imagine they would prefer that their fans share and appreciate their development and evolution. However, the album listener is not burdened by the pains of artistic growth. Rather, the music that I heard at a certain time in my life remains frozen in time and memory. For me, the Stranger is the best album Joel ever recorded. It has been a long time since I actually sat down and listened to the entire Stranger album. I had forgotten how good it was. Every song works. Even "Just the way you are" which became one of the all-time vomit inducing wedding songs of the '70s sounds good in the context of this album. I still care about Brenda and Eddie. I grew up in Queens at the same time Joel was growing up in Long Island. I knew Brenda and Eddie - or lots of people who could pass for Brenda and Eddie. Only the good die young still has that parochial school resonance and lust-driven undertones that it had almost 30 years ago. So sit down - have a bottle of red, have a bottle of white - it all depends on your appetite - and enjoy this great cd.
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Format: Audio CD
OK, first things first: The Stranger is the album that made Billy Joel a household name throughout the world (though not because it was a breakthrough album in terms of content; the earlier "Turnstiles" is at least as good). It is a very well recorded album with many of Joel's best loved songs. It has been reissued multiple times in the digital era (the original CD, the remastered CD, the SACD version, etc.). It is hard to imagine anyone interested in this expensive expansive edition doesn't already own AT LEAST one other digital version of the album, so the inclusion of the album on this package is a money grab.

Unfortunately, it's worse than that: The remaster of The Stranger included here is far-and-away the WORST remaster of the album to ever appear. It is extremely compressed and maximized, which means it sound nice and LOUD, but it sacrifices all sorts of subtleties of the music itself. If you are only interested in The Stranger, go and buy yourself any other edition. Or if you already own The Stranger in some other digital edition, keep that if you buy this: The version here is just plain junk.

Now, on to the bonus CD which, honestly, is the lure of this package. On the second CD you get a TRUNCATED version of the shows that Billy Joel played in New York City in Summer 1977. This was Joel and his band at the height of their powers, and with a trunkload of great material (from the Stranger and earlier albums) to draw upon. To any fan of Billy Joel, this is essential, terrific stuff. UNFORTUNATELY, you don't get an entire show (neither a real entire show, nor a cut-and-paste from separate performances to simulate an entire show). This is a real travesty and begs the question "Why?" The source material to offer a full show is available.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By ALK on July 23, 2001
Format: Audio CD
It took what seemed like forever, but Sony Music has started to release 5.1-channel SACDs. Billy Joel's "The Stranger" is one of the first. The multichannel version has catalog number CS 69384.
The disc is presented in 5.1 channel packed DSD sound as well as stereo DSD. There is no CD layer, so the SACD is only playable in an SACD player. Multichannel requires a multichannel SACD player such as the Sony SCD-CE775.
Unlike early DVD-Audio discs, the mixes and mastering process on this early multichannel SACD are all excellent. The vocals are extremely clear and the disc is easy to use. Unlike a DVD-Audio disc, which acts like a glorified DVD-Video disc, a multichannel SACD acts like a CD. Press 'play' - it plays. Track skipping is easy. As a bonus, the name of each track appears on the player's built-in display - no video display required.
Standout tracks are "Moving Out" where the vocals are full and extremely clean sounding. The low bass on "Just the Way you Are" is excellent and warm. There are no use of instruments that "fly" throughout the channels, just a very good mix.
I'm on my fifth play now of this disc. An excellent start to the world of multichannel SACD. May there be many more discs like this.
Note : Earlier SACD versions of "The Stranger" were stereo-only.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Daniel A. Cooper on February 26, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Billy Joel needs no introduction to anyone who's followed pop music in the past 25 years. He's simply one of the most talented singer-songwriters of the past quarter century. With The Stranger, he reached the top of the charts and created one of his most enduring works at the same time. This Grammy award winning album contains "Just the Way You Are," one of the most honest and beautiful love songs of all time, but it also contains classics like "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" and "Only the Good Die Young." Joel surrounds himself with talented, but unpretentious musicians who wonderfully interpret his music. And Phil Ramone's original production gave this material a thoughtful, clean mix that accentuated the songs and the musicians.
This is one of the original single-layer Sony SACDs, which pale in comparison to new hybrids that are starting to find their way into the market. For one thing, we've come to expect an upgrade in packaging, not the redbook CD booklet with 1 or 2 lines crediting the remastering team. It ships in a traditional jewel case, and is otherwise indistinguishable from a traditional CD; however, once you pop this baby into your SACD player, you'll find yourself dazzled by the sonics, in either stereo or 5.1.
I won't spend much time on the stereo mix, except to say that a friend loaned me the remastered redbook CD and, while this is definitely a step up, there's nothing jaw-droppingly better about the stereo mix. It sounds marginally better, but not enough of a leap in quality to suggest you should replace your redbook edition.
However, if you are 5.1-capable, you should really consider buying this CD. The multichannel mix is outstanding.
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