Skip to content

Tag: Billy Joel

Billy Joel – Songs In The Attic (1981) [MFSL 2013] {PS3 ISO + FLAC}

Billy Joel – Songs In The Attic (1981) [MFSL 2013]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 48:18 minutes | Scans included | 1,51 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 1000 MB
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab # UDSACD 2092

Having scored three multi-platinum hits in a row, Billy Joel took a breather, releasing his first live album, Songs in the Attic, as he worked on his ambitious follow-up to Glass Houses. Joel wisely decided to use the live album as an opportunity to draw attention to songs from his first four albums. Apart from “Piano Man,” none of those songs had been heard by the large audience he had won with The Stranger. Furthermore, he now had a seasoned backing band that helped give his music a specific identity — in short, it was an opportunity to reclaim these songs, now that he had a signature sound. And Joel didn’t botch the opportunity — Songs in the Attic is an excellent album, ranking among his very best work. With the possible exception of the Turnstiles material, every song is given a fuller, better arrangement that makes it all spring to life. “Los Angelenos” and “Everybody Loves You Now” hit harder in the live setting, while ballads like “She’s Got a Way,” “Summer, Highland Falls,” and “I’ve Loved These Days” are richer and warmer in these versions. A few personal favorites from these albums may be missing, but what is here is impeccable, proving that even if Joel wasn’t a celebrity in the early ’70s, his best songs of the era rivaled his biggest hits.

Comments closed

Billy Joel – River Of Dreams (1993/2013) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Billy Joel – River Of Dreams (1993/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz | Time – 00:49:12 minutes | 1,10 GB | Genre: Rock
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | © Columbia Records
Recorded: 1993, The Boathouse at the Island Boatyard, Shelter Island, NY; Cove City Sound Studios, Glen Cove, NY; The Hit Factory, New York, NY.

Billy Joel had never taken as much time to record an album as he did with River of Dreams, and its troubled birth is clear upon the first listen. Never before had he recorded an album that sounded so labored, as if it was a struggle for him to write and record the songs. With River of Dreams, he’s surrounded himself with ace studio musicians and star producer Danny Kortchmar, all of whom have the effect of deadening an already self-consciously serious set of songs. There are no light moments on the album, either lyrically or musically — all the songs are filled with middle-age dread, even the two best moments, the gospel-inflected title track and his song to his daughter, “Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel).” Those two songs have the strongest melodies, but they’re not as natural as his best material. Everywhere he tries too hard — the metaphors of “The Great Wall of China,” the bizarre vocal intro to “Shades of Grey,” minor-key melodies all over the place. He may be trying different things, but he doesn’t sound comfortable with his detours, and by the end of the record, he sounds as exhausted as the listener feels. By that point, the closing track, “Famous Last Words,” seems prophetic — River of Dreams feels like a sad close to an otherwise strong career, and from all indications he’s given in the press, Joel claims it is indeed the last pop album he’ll ever make. It’s an unworthy way to depart. –Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Comments closed

Billy Joel – Greatest Hits Vol. III (1997/2014) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Billy Joel – Greatest Hits Vol. III (1997/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz | Time – 01:16:12 minutes | 1,61 GB | Genre: Rock
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: acousticsounds.com | © Columbia Records
Recorded: 1983–1997

Perhaps it was inevitable that Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 would pale next to its double-disc predecessor. Greatest Hits, Vols. 1 & 2 covered nine albums (it ignored Cold Spring Harbor), a period during which Joel had 26 Top 100 hits. If it had picked up where the first collection left off, Vol. 3 would have covered three studio albums, which produced 11 hits. That alone would have made a respectable hits collection, and it would have made sense, since The Bridge marked the beginning of a new phase of Joel’s career. Instead, the 17-song Vol. 3 begins with a pair of songs from An Innocent Man (“Keeping the Faith,” “An Innocent Man”) that sound entirely different from the material that follows, which finds Joel delving into mechanized, slickly produced adult contemporary pop. The remaining songs don’t strictly adhere to his charting hits, substituting such album tracks as “Leningrad,” “Shameless” and “Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)” for hits like “Modern Woman,” “That’s Not Her Style” and his non-LP cover of Elvis’ “All Shook Up.” Even with those missing hits, Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 does summarize Joel’s latter career quite well, culling most of his best songs from the time. However, the album ends on a down note, as it adds three new songs, all covers, that are limply produced and colorlessly played. Bob Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love” — which Joel decided to perform as if it was a slow, sanitized Blonde on Blonde outtake — is the best of the trio, but none of them qualify as Joel classics, and they are an inauspicious way to end this chapter of his career. –Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Comments closed

Billy Joel – Greatest Hits – Volume I & Volume II (1985/2007) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Billy Joel – Greatest Hits – Volume I & Volume II (1985/2007)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz | Time – 01:53:12 minutes | 2,39 GB | Genre: Rock
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: acousticsounds.com | © Columbia Records
Recorded: 1973–1985

Although it’s missing a few important (not to mention big) hits, Greatest Hits, Vols. 1 & 2 is an excellent retrospective of the first half of Billy Joel’s career. Beginning with “Piano Man,” the first disc runs through a number of early songs before arriving at the hit-making days of the late ’70s; some of these songs, including “Captain Jack” and “New York State of Mind,” weren’t strictly hits, but were popular numbers within his stage show and became radio hits. Once the songs from The Stranger arrive halfway through the first disc, there’s no stopping the hits (although “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant,” an album track from The Stranger, manages its way onto the collection). In fact, over the next disc and a half, there’s so many hits, it’s inevitable that some are left off — to be specific, “Honesty,” “Sometimes a Fantasy,” “An Innocent Man,” “Leave a Tender Moment,” and “Keeping the Faith” aren’t included. But all the other hits — including “Just the Way You Are,” “Only the Good Die Young,” “My Life,” “You May Be Right,” “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” “Don’t Ask Me Why,” “Allentown,” “Tell Her About It” and “Uptown Girl,” among many others — are present and accounted for, as are two new songs (“You’re Only Human (Second Wind),” “The Night Is Still Young”) that became hits as well. In short, Greatest Hits, Vols. 1 & 2 does its job perfectly, encapsulating exactly why Billy Joel was one of the most popular singer/songwriters of the late ’70s and early ’80s. –Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Comments closed

Billy Joel – Greatest Hits: Volume I & Volume II (1985) [MFSL 2017] {PS3 ISO + FLAC}

Billy Joel – Greatest: Hits Volume I & Volume II (1985) [MFSL 2017]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 117:28 minutes | Scans included | 4,76 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 2,32 GB
2x SACD / Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab # UDSACD 2-2121 | Genre: Rock

Although it’s missing a few important (not to mention big) hits, Greatest Hits, Vols. 1 & 2 is an excellent retrospective of the first half of Billy Joel’s career. Beginning with “Piano Man,” the first disc runs through a number of early songs before arriving at the hit-making days of the late ’70s; some of these songs, including “Captain Jack” and “New York State of Mind,” weren’t strictly hits, but were popular numbers within his stage show and became radio hits. Once the songs from The Stranger arrive halfway through the first disc, there’s no stopping the hits (although “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant,” an album track from The Stranger, manages its way onto the collection). In fact, over the next disc and a half, there’s so many hits, it’s inevitable that some are left off – to be specific, “Honesty,” “Sometimes a Fantasy,” “An Innocent Man,” “Leave a Tender Moment,” and “Keeping the Faith” aren’t included. But all the other hits – including “Just the Way You Are,” “Only the Good Die Young,” “My Life,” “You May Be Right,” “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” “Don’t Ask Me Why,” “Allentown,” “Tell Her About It” and “Uptown Girl,” among many others – are present and accounted for, as are two new songs (“You’re Only Human (Second Wind),” “The Night Is Still Young”) that became hits as well. In short, Greatest Hits, Vols. 1 & 2 does its job perfectly, encapsulating exactly why Billy Joel was one of the most popular singer/songwriters of the late ’70s and early ’80s.

Comments closed

Billy Joel – Piano Man (1973) [MFSL 2010] {PS3 ISO + FLAC}

Billy Joel – Piano Man (1973) [MFSL 2010]
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 43:38 minutes | Scans included | 1,75 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 825 MB
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab # UDSACD 2062

Embittered by legal disputes with his label and an endless tour to support a debut that was dead in the water, Billy Joel hunkered down in his adopted hometown of Los Angeles, spending six months as a lounge singer at a club. He didn’t abandon his dreams — he continued to write songs, including “Piano Man,” a fictionalized account of his weeks as a lounge singer. Through a combination of touring and constant hustling, he landed a contract with Columbia and recorded his second album in 1973. Clearly inspired by Elton John’s Tumbleweed Connection, not only musically but lyrically, as well as James Taylor, Joel expands the vision and sound of Cold Spring Harbor, abandoning introspective numbers (apart from “You’re My Home,” a love letter to his wife) for character sketches and epics. Even the title track, a breakthrough hit based on his weeks as a saloon singer, focuses on the colorful patrons, not the singer. If his narratives are occasionally awkward or incomplete, he compensates with music that gives the songs a sweeping sense of purpose — they feel complete, thanks to his indelible melodies and savvy stylistic repurposing. He may have borrowed his basic blueprint from Tumbleweed Connection, particularly with its Western imagery and bluesy gospel flourishes, but he makes it his own, largely due to his melodic flair, which is in greater evidence than on Cold Spring Harbor. Piano Man is where he suggests his potential as a musical craftsman. He may have weaknesses as a lyricist — such mishaps as the “instant pleasuredome” line in “You’re My Home” illustrate that he doesn’t have an ear for words — but Piano Man makes it clear that his skills as a melodicist can dazzle.

Comments closed

Billy Joel – The Stranger (1977) [Reissue 2017] {2.0 & 5.1} PS3 ISO + FLAC

Billy Joel – The Stranger (1977) [Reissue 2017]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 42:30 minutes | Full Scans included | 3,12 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | 42:41 mins | Scans | 853 MB
Featuring Stereo and Multichannel surround sound

Billy Joel teamed with Phil Ramone, a famed engineer who had just scored his first producing hits with Art Garfunkel’s Breakaway and Paul Simon’s Still Crazy After All These Years for The Stranger, his follow-up to Turnstiles. Joel still favored big, sweeping melodies, but Ramone convinced him to streamline his arrangements and clean up the production. The results aren’t necessarily revelatory, since he covered so much ground on Turnstiles, but the commercialism of The Stranger is a bit of a surprise. None of his ballads have been as sweet or slick as “Just the Way You Are”; he never had created a rocker as bouncy or infectious as “Only the Good Die Young”; and the glossy production of “She’s Always a Woman” disguises its latent misogynist streak. Joel balanced such radio-ready material with a series of New York vignettes, seemingly inspired by Springsteen’s working-class fables and clearly intended to be the artistic centerpieces of the album. They do provide The Stranger with the feel of a concept album, yet there is no true thematic connection between the pieces, and his lyrics are often vague or mean-spirited. His lyrical shortcomings are overshadowed by his musical strengths. Even if his melodies sound more Broadway than Beatles – the epic suite “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” feels like a show-stopping closer – there’s no denying that the melodies of each song on The Stranger are memorable, so much so that they strengthen the weaker portions of the album. Joel rarely wrote a set of songs better than those on The Stranger, nor did he often deliver an album as consistently listenable.

Comments closed

Billy Joel – The Complete Albums Collection (2011/2014) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Billy Joel – The Complete Albums Collection (2011/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 11:14:08 minutes | 13,9 GB | Genre: Rock, Pop
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Q0buz| Front Cover | © Columbia – Legacy

Although Billy Joel never was a critic’s favorite, the pianist emerged as one of the most popular singer/songwriters of the latter half of the ’70s. Joel’s music consistently demonstrates an affection for Beatlesque hooks and a flair for Tin Pan Alley and Broadway melodies. His fusion of two distinct eras made him a superstar in the late ’70s and ’80s, as he racked an impressive string of multi-platinum albums and hit singles.

Comments closed

Billy Joel – Streetlife Serenade (1974) [Audio Fidelity 2015] {PS3 ISO + FLAC}

Billy Joel – Streetlife Serenade (1974) [Audio Fidelity 2015]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 & DST64 4.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 38:27 minutes | Full Scans included | 2,84 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | 37:56 mins | Scans included | 699 MB
Features Stereo and Quadrophonic surround sound | SACD Mastering by Kevin Gray | Audio Fidelity # AFZ5 207

Billy Joel hit a bit of a slump with Streetlife Serenade, his third album. Stylistically, it was a reiteration of its predecessor’s Tumbleweed Connection obsessions, spiked with, of all things, Rockford Files synthesizers and ragtimes pulled from The Sting. That isn’t a facetious reference, either – it’s no coincidence that the record’s single and best song, “The Entertainer,” shares a title with the Scott Joplin rag that provided The Sting with a main theme. Joel is attempting a grand Americana lyrical vision, stretching from the Wild West through the Depression to “Los Angelenos” and “The Great Suburban Showdown.” It doesn’t work, not only because of his shortcomings as a writer, but because he didn’t have the time to pull it all together. There are no less than two instrumentals, and even if “Root Beer Rag” (yet another sign of The Sting’s influence) is admittedly enjoyable, they’re undeniably fillers, as is much of the second side. Since he has skills, he’s able to turn out a few winners – “Roberta,” a love song in the vein of Cold Spring Harbor, the mournful “Streetlife Serenader,” and the stomping “Los Angelenos” – but it was the astonishingly bitter “The Entertainer,” where he not only disparages his own role but is filled with venom over “Piano Man” being released in a single edit, that made the subtext clear: he had enough with California, enough with the music industry, enough with being a sensitive singer-songwriter. It was time for Billy to say goodbye to Hollywood and head back home to New York.

Comments closed

Billy Joel – The Nylon Curtain (1982) [MFSL 2012] {PS3 ISO + FLAC}

Billy Joel – The Nylon Curtain (1982) [MFSL 2012]
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 41:50 minutes | Scans included | 1,29 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 816 MB
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab # UDSACD 2093

Billy Joel hit back as hard as he could with Glass Houses, his bid to prove that he could rock as hard as any of those new wave punks. He might not have proven himself a punk — for all of his claims of being a hard rocker, his work inevitably is pop because of his fondness for melody — but he proved to himself that he could still rock, even if the critics didn’t give him any credit for it. It was now time to mature, to move pop/rock into the middle age and, in the process, earn critical respect. In short, The Nylon Curtain is where Billy Joel went serious, consciously crafting a song cycle about Baby Boomers in the Reagan era. Since this was an album about Baby Boomers, he chose to base his music almost entirely on the Beatles, the pivotal rock band for his generation. Joel is naturally inclined to write big melodies like McCartney, but he idolizes Lennon, which makes The Nylon Curtain a fascinating cross between ear candy and social commentary. His desire to record a grand concept album is admirable, but his ever-present lyrical shortcomings mean that the songs paint a picture without arriving at any insights. He occasionally gets lost in his own ambition, as on the waterlogged second side, but the first half of the song suite — “Allentown,” “Laura,” “Pressure,” “Goodnight Saigon,” “She’s Right on Time” — is layered, successful, mature pop that brings Joel tantalizingly close to his ultimate goal of sophisticated pop/rock for mature audiences.

Comments closed
%d bloggers like this: