There are few who don’t know the many hits of Billy Joel. At the very least, most know a song, maybe two. His many hits filled up a two-volume best-of package back when many performers were lucky to fill a single disc with genuine hits. That’s the legacy of Billy Joel. He could craft a great pop song, guaranteed to last a few solid weeks on any Top 40 list, and often, on a Top 20 list. He was that good.
Even his deeper songs found transit on FM stations. Anyone that remembers the greatness of “Goodnight Saigon,” an extended song that made the rounds of FM stations effortlessly, while “Pressure,” and “Allentown” from his 1982 gem The Nylon Curtain hovered in the Top 40 for weeks, already knows the talent that Billy Joel worked from.
But before all of those great songs took shape, Joel had a breakthrough hit with the Top 20 song, “Piano Man” from his eponymous 1973 album. Piano Man was Billy Joel’s second album, but his first for the major label that he hung with for the duration of his career, Columbia Records. With distinct piano skills and a knack for telling a story in the span of several minutes, completed by a strong musical ability that attracted attention, Billy Joel was about to strike serious pay dirt.
On November 8, Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings will reissue Piano Man in a two-CD Deluxe Edition, starting off a campaign to deliver much of the Billy Joel catalog in Deluxe Edtiions. This version of Piano Man will be remastered to provide as good a sound as can be delivered by today’s standards.
In addition to the original 10-track album, the new set will add in a second disc that features a well-known radio-broadcasted 1972 concert on Philadelphia’s WWMR. The second disc will also contain three extra songs from the same show that are not found on any Joel albums (“Long, Long Time,” “Josephine,” “Rosalinda”).
The set will include a rich booklet that will contain much including an essay, photos, credits, and other memorabilia related to the classic album.
Piano Man is a brilliant work that gave the world Billy Joel. Not discounting his earlier 1971 release, Cold Spring Harbor, Piano Man simply mesmerized with all of its songs. That album’s completeness was a feat not repeated in all of Billy Joel albums.
If you’re a Billy Joel fan, you better be saving your pennies because there’s more coming as 2012 progresses.