Piano Man: Legacy Edition

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Embittered by legal disputes with Family Productions and an endless tour to support a debut that was lying 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 of being a full-fledged recording star -- 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 (Family still claimed a portion of the royalties), and set out to record his second record in 1973. Since his debut was botched, Joel was determined not to ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Embittered by legal disputes with Family Productions and an endless tour to support a debut that was lying 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 of being a full-fledged recording star -- 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 (Family still claimed a portion of the royalties), and set out to record his second record in 1973. Since his debut was botched, Joel was determined not to make a mistake the second time around, if the ambition of Piano Man is any gauge of his intentions. 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 re-purposing. 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. The Legacy Edition of Piano Man is expanded to a double-disc set featuring a previously unreleased -- but heavily bootlegged -- live radio concert given to Philadelphia's WMMR on April 15, 1972. Among Joel fanatics, this is a legendary concert, and not merely because it has been circulated in the underground for years. This is the show that brought Billy to the attention of Columbia Records, leading to an audition and contract with the label, and it's easy to hear why this performance caught their ear. Transitioning away from the ballad-heavy Cold Spring Harbor, yet still relying on its best songs -- "She's Got a Way," "Nocturne," "Turn Around," "Everybody Love You Now" -- Joel's pen has sharpened considerably on his new songs, material heavily influenced by Elton John's Tumbleweed Connection as noted above and destined to surface on Piano Man. "Travelin' Prayer," "The Ballad of Billy the Kid," and "Captain Jack" have a melodic and narrative force unlike anything on Cold Spring Harbor and Joel gives them impassioned readings, making it clear he's a songwriter and showman to be reckoned with. For fans, this energetic performance is enough -- it's his best officially released live recording -- but the cherry on top is the inclusion of three songs Joel never recorded in the studio: the ballad "Long Long Time," "Rosalinda" (a completely different song than "Rosalinda's Eyes"), and the terrific rocker "Josephine."
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/8/2011
  • Label: Sony Legacy
  • UPC: 886976190125
  • Catalog Number: 761901
  • Sales rank: 445

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Travelin' Prayer (4:16)
  2. 2 Piano Man (5:38)
  3. 3 Ain't No Crime (3:19)
  4. 4 You're My Home (3:13)
  5. 5 The Ballad of Billy the Kid (5:43)
  6. 6 Worse Comes to Worst (3:15)
  7. 7 Stop in Nevada (3:55)
  8. 8 If I Only Had the Words (To Tell You) (3:34)
  9. 9 Somewhere Along the Line (3:20)
  10. 10 Captain Jack (7:18)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Intro (0:28)
  2. 2 Falling of the Rain (2:33)
  3. 3 Travelin' Prayer (0:17)
  4. 4 The Ballad of Billy the Kid (3:11)
  5. 5 She's Got a Way (0:49)
  6. 6 Everybody Loves You Now (5:35)
  7. 7 Nocturne (1:03)
  8. 8 Station ID (3:07)
  9. 9 Turn Around (1:18)
  10. 10 Long, Long Time (2:56)
  11. 11 Captain Jack (0:59)
  12. 12 Josephine (2:46)
  13. 13 Rosalinda (1:30)
  14. 14 Tomorrow Is Today (3:25)
  15. 15 [Untitled] (1:18)
  16. 16 [Untitled] (4:46)
  17. 17 [Untitled] (1:18)
  18. 18 [Untitled] (6:55)
  19. 19 [Untitled] (1:40)
  20. 20 [Untitled] (3:22)
  21. 21 [Untitled] (0:32)
  22. 22 [Untitled] (3:03)
  23. 23 [Untitled] (5:10)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Billy Joel Primary Artist, Piano, Keyboards
Larry Carlton Guitar
Richard Bennett Guitar
Rhys Clark Drums
Wilton Felder Bass
Emory Gordy Bass
Fred Heilbrun Banjo
Al Hertzberg Guitar
Michael Omartian Accordion
Dean Parks Guitar
Larry Russell Bass
Susan Steward Background Vocals
Ron Tutt Drums
Ed Sciaky Announcer
Eric Weisberg Banjo
Creamers Background Vocals
Technical Credits
Billy Joel Composer, Lyricist
Rhys Clark Memorabilia
Jimmie Haskell Arranger
Ted Jensen Mastering
Ron Malo Engineer
Michael Omartian Arranger
Bill Imhoff Illustrations
Edward O'Dowd Art Direction
Jonathan Takiff Liner Notes
Robert Prisament Memorabilia
Dennis Wilen Producer
Michael Stewart Producer
Mandy Eidgah Marketing
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