CD: Billy Joel

Billy Joel
The Stranger—Legacy Edition
By David Chiu

Early on his career Billy Joel recorded some good albums (the vastly underrated Cold Spring Harbor, Piano Man, Streetlife Serenade and Turnstiles) that unfortunately didn’t set the charts on fire. That changed in 1977 with the release of The Stranger, which elevated Joel’s popularity to superstardom, a level that has not diminished since. In comparison to his first albums, The Stranger contains as an air of confidence both in Joel’s songwriting and delivery. Certainly having producer Phil Ramone on board doesn’t hurt the album’s chances either. Nearly all of the songs on the album has been a regular radio or concert staple: “Movin’ Out,” the title song, “Just the Way You Are,” “Scenes of an Italian Restaurant” (Joel’s own “Bohemian Rhapsody” in terms of the musical arrangement and story), “Only the Good Die Young,” and “She’s Always a Woman.” The other non singles rank along with the hits: Vienna is sentimental pop with a European sensibility; “Get It Right the First Time” is a joyous salsa-fied ditty; and the gospel-ish “Everybody Has a Dream” is Joel channeling his inner Ray Charles. This special 30th anniversary version also has a previously unreleased show from Carnegie Hall prior to The Stranger’s release that contains familiar Joel songs like “Captain Jack,” “Miami 2017,” and the lovely “Souvenir.” Though he’s always made consistently good records (Glass Houses, The Nylon Curtain) The Stranger is THE essential Billy Joel studio album.

Watch a trailer for the release of The Stranger-Legacy Edition.


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