Columbia/Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, is commemorating forty years of Billy Joel’s career as a solo recording artist with a pair of historic releases–a limited edition Billy Joel – The Complete Albums Collection boxed set and a two-disc Legacy Edition of 1973′s Piano Man album (exclusively featuring a long-lost fabled radio concert from 1972)–each appealing to aficionados of the iconic American singer-songwriter-performer.
Billy Joel – The Complete Albums Collection brings together for the first time, in one elegantly designed box, the artist’s complete catalog of 14 essential titles, from 1971′s Cold Spring Harbor through 1979′s Grammy-winning Album of The Year 52nd Street and 1981′s live Songs In The Attic to 2001′s Fantasies & Delusions, the first album of Billy’s classical compositions. Each album has been recently remastered in 24 bit audio for this edition and comes in cardboard jackets replicating the original album covers and sleeves. Included in the box are:
1. Cold Spring Harbor (1971)
2. Piano Man (1973)
3. Streetlife Serenade (1974)
4. Turnstiles (1976)
5. The Stranger (1977)
6. 52nd Street (1978)
7. Glass Houses (1980)
8. Songs In The Attic (1981)
9. The Nylon Curtain (1982)
10. An Innocent Man (1983)
11. The Bridge (1986)
12. Storm Front (1989)
12. River Of Dreams (1993)
14, Fantasies & Delusions (2001)
15. Collected Additional Masters (1985—2007)
“This has been a long time coming, putting all my albums into one package,” said Billy in a recent in-depth interview for The Complete Albums Collection. “I’d never seen them all together in one place until I got the box set. It represents a lot of work! It’s a little overwhelming, actually, looking at each individual album and remembering how much writing and recording, the time spent arranging and producing everything that went into each album.”
In addition to offering brand-new remasters of every Billy Joel studio album, Billy Joel – The Complete Albums Collection includes two lavish 60-page booklets, printed lyrics to every Billy Joel composition, a new Q&A with Billy conducted by noted music journalist Steve Morse, and a bonus disc of 17 rare and non-album recordings including “Elvis Presley Boulevard” (B-side of the “Allentown” single, 1982); the live cover version of the Beatles’ “I’ll Cry Instead” (B-side of “An Innocent Man,” 1983); “House Of Blue Light” (B-side of “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” 1989); and “You Picked A Real Bad Time” (B-side of “All About Soul,” 1993). “You’re Only Human (Second Wind)” and “The Night Is Still Young” are outtakes that did not see light of day until 1985.
Several tracks on the bonus disc originated as Billy Joel’s contributions to various multi-artist movie soundtracks, notably his covers of the Elvis Presley hits “Heartbreak Hotel” and “All Shook Up,” both from 1992′s Honeymoon In Vegas. Billy covered Lloyd Price’s 1959 hit, “Where Were You On Our Wedding Day,” for the 1999 movie, Runaway Bride, and Duke Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood” for A League Of Their Own in 1992. In 1982, Billy Joel contributed his original “Nobody Knows But Me” to In Harmony II, a Columbia LP to benefit Sesame Street/Children’s Television Workshop.
Other cover tunes on the bonus disc range from Bob Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love” and Leonard Cohen’s “Light as the Breeze” to the Gerry Goffin-Carole King standard “Hey Girl” (Freddie Scott, 1963). In 1991, Billy Joel contributed “When You Wish Upon A Star” to Columbia’s Disney tribute album, Simply Mad About The Mouse. And in 2001, Billy Joel sang the Beach Boys’ “Don’t Worry Baby” at the Radio City Music Hall All-Star Tribute to Brian Wilson concert.
The exclusive bonus disc included on Billy Joel – The Complete Albums Collection closes with “All My Life,” a 2007 single (which marked Billy’s first newly-written song since 1993′s River
of Dreams) now making its first appearance on an album.
Random copies of The Complete Albums Collection ordered through the Official Billy Joel store (www.CompleteBillyJoel.com) will be autographed by Billy Joel, so big fans will want to be sure to order their copy there.
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The forthcoming Legacy Edition of Piano Man, Billy Joel’s 1973 debut album on Columbia Records, includes the 10-song original album in its entirety, remastered for this release in addition to a second disc premiering the first-ever release of Billy’s mythic performance at Philadelphia’s Sigma Sound Studio on April 15, 1972 (a year prior to his signing with Columbia). Philadelphia Daily News music writer Jon Takiff, an eye-witness to the event, has penned a new essay on the Sigma Sound show for the Legacy Edition of Piano Man.
The release and failure of a flawed Cold Spring Harbor, his first solo album, on an indie label in 1971 prompted then-struggling musician Billy Joel to go to Los Angeles and cut-his-chops incognito in local piano bars as Bill Martin (chronicled in Piano Man’s title track). Unbeknown to Billy, WMMR, a top-rated Philadelphia FM station, had begun spinning “Captain Jack,” a live track from a Billy Joel show they’d recorded at Sigma Sound, and the station’s phones were going off-the-hook. The “Captain Jack” live recording was turning into a bonafide underground FM anthem, opening the door for a New York audition, competing major label interest, and a Columbia Records contract for the song’s author and performer.
“Columbia was Bob Dylan’s label,” Billy said. “That was the deciding factor. At this time, you were allowed to build your career through FM radio, album tracks, concerts, singles and Bob Dylan was iconic for not being a hit singles type of artist. This was a company that knows how to build a career with an artist, so we decided to go with Columbia.
“I never sat down and said I’m gonna write a hit record. I wouldn’t know a hit record if it bit me. I just wrote songs. I wrote them for me, I wrote them for the band, or I wrote a song for the women in my life. I was just writing songs for me. It’s music that I wanted to hear. If I didn’t hear certain kind of music on the radio, I realized, ‘Well, if I write and record this it’ll probably be on the radio and that’s what I’ll hear.’ That’s what I was thinking. Not so much about having hits, but about making music that I liked. I only really ever did it for me. That may sound selfish, but I’m the only person that I really know all that well.”
The Legacy Edition of Piano Man makes available, for the first time ever, Billy’s full performance at Sigma Sound, re-mixed from the original studio recording. The concert includes three Billy Joel songs–”Long, Long Time,” “Josephine,” and “Rosalinda”–which do not appear on any other albums by the artist and, of course, the performance of “Captain Jack” which launched one of the most remarkable careers in show business. The legendary Sigma Sound performance is available exclusively on the new Legacy Edition of Piano Man (and is not included on The Complete Albums Collection).
Billy Joel – Piano Man (Legacy Edition)
The Original Album
1. Travelin’ Prayer
2. Piano Man
3. Ain’t No Crime
4. You’re My Home
5. The Ballad Of Billy The Kid
6. Worse Comes To Worse
7. Stop In Nevada
8. If I Only Had The Words (To Tell You)
9. Somewhere Along The Line
10. Captain Jack
The Sigma Sound Studios Performance
The Ballad of Billy the Kid
She’s Got A Way
Everybody Loves You Now
Long, Long Time
Tomorrow is Today
Recorded live in April 1972 at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, PA Previously unreleased