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Piano Man 2 CD Legacy Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 143 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

In late 1973 Columbia Records released Piano Man, its first album by Billy Joel. A New York-bred singer- songwriter-keyboardist, the artist would have a profound impact on popular music for years to come. The album's title track single, "Piano Man" took its time before debuting on the Hot 100 in February 1974, where it eventually rose to #25. The album went on to sell more than 4-times RIAA platinum to date, and is one of the corner-stones of Billy Joel's Columbia catalog of nearly 20 studio and live albums.
Almost four decades later, Piano Man (Legacy Edition) puts the groundbreaking 10-song album back in the spotlight. The new package includes a bonus CD of an entire previously unreleased 1972 live radio concert (predating Joel's Columbia signing by a year), a crucial stepping-stone in his career. Early support for Joel came from Philadelphia, specifically the top-rated FM station WMMR, which programmed a live concert series taped in the intimate Sigma Sound Studios. Billy recorded a concert for the series on April 15, 1972. Three of the 12 songs that he performed were destined for inclusion on his next album (more than a year and a half away) Piano Man: "Travelin Prayer," the Aaron Copland-esque "The Ballad Of Billy The Kid," and the notorious "Captain Jack." Tapes of the 'MMR concert made the rounds, with "Captain Jack" turning into an "underground" FM favorite. Some of those listeners happened to work for Columbia Records, and soon the groundwork was being laid for Billy Joel to come to New York and audition for the label. The rest, of course, is history but without the Philadelphia radio concert, that history might have taken a different direction indeed.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 8, 2011)
  • Original Release Date: November 8, 2011
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Sony Legacy
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • ASIN: B005FNGAD8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,553 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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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
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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).
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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
Billy Joel had a long career in music before his first commercial break with this 1973 album and its title hit single. He'd played piano as a studio sideman and recorded with several rock groups, including the Hassles and Attila, before settling into the singer-songwriter style that began with 1971's Cold Spring Harbor. With his solo debut having stiffed commercially, and label problems keeping him from recording a follow-up, he relocated to Los Angeles where he spent six months playing as a lounge pianist, writing new material a eventually returning to touring. Signing with Columbia, he released this sophomore album in November and cracked the Top 40 by the following Spring - more than five months after the records were released. The single rose to #25, but it would be three more years until Joel achieved massive acclaim with 1977's The Stranger.

The introspection of Cold Spring Harbor was mostly replaced on his second album with lightly- and wholly-fictional character sketches. The album's love song, "You're My Home" (written as a Valentine's Day gift for Joel's first wife) is also its most personal, though the title song is clearly drawn from Joel's tenure as a lounge singer. Narratives of travel and distance, as well as the line "too many people got a hold of me" (from "Worse Comes to Worst"), speak to the touring and travail of his early solo years. The album's sound was heavily influenced by California's early-70s canyon-country scene, mixing West Coast twang with Joel's East Coast bravura.
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