Billy Joel 50th Anniversary Vinyl Collection Due

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This ad for Piano Man appeared in the Nov. 17, 1973 issue of Record World

Billy Joel’s 50 years of recording will be celebrated this fall with the release of Billy Joel – The Vinyl Collection, Vol.1, a 9-LP box set chronicling his evolution as a songwriter, performer and recording artist during his rise from obscurity to international superstardom. The collection, via Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, arrives on November 5, 2021. The Aug. 26 announcement notes that it kicks off a celebration of the classic rock legend’s 50 years of artistry.

The Vinyl Collection, Vol.1 arrives the same day as the first rescheduled concert in Joel’s extraordinary ongoing Madison Square Garden residency, which had been interrupted due to the pandemic.

The set brings together the artist’s first six solo studio albums (Cold Spring Harbor, Piano Man, Streetlife Serenade, Turnstiles, The Stranger, 52nd Street) with his first live album (Songs in the Attic) and an exclusive pressing of Live at The Great American Music Hall – 1975, a previously unreleased concert recording available for the first time in the box set as a double 12″ vinyl album. Listen to several performances below.

All titles have been sourced from the original album tapes and prepared by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound. The box set, packaged in a slipcase, includes a 50+ page booklet highlighting Joel’s early career through his personal observations and insights on his songs and albums, archival photos, an essay by Anthony DeCurtis, and tributes from his fellow musicians, artists and celebrities.

Listen to Joel perform “New York State of Mind” live at the Great American Music Hall in 1975

The Vinyl Collection, Vol.1 arrives to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Joel’s career starting with Cold Spring Harbor, first released on Nov. 1, 1971. Named after a favorite spot located on Long Island Sound near his hometown, the album charted in the United States (#158), Japan (#44) and the U.K. (#95).

Piano Man was originally released on November 9, 1973 and, on the strength of the title track, an iconic signature song that entered the pop mainstream, helped the artist move on up from lounge singing in Los Angeles to the next level of show biz success. The LP, with Joel favorites “Captain Jack,” and “The Ballad of Billy the Kid,” reached #27 in the U.S. and charted in Australia (#14), Canada (#26), Japan (#112) and the U.K. (#98). Piano Man has been certified 4x Platinum by the RIAA.

Streetlife Serenade was originally released on Oct. 11, 1974 and marked the first time Joel deployed synthesizers on a record. His live shows from the period often featured the instrumental, “Root Beer Rag” and the short song, “Souvenir,” was a frequent encore. The album introduced “The Entertainer,” a key composition in his repertoire. The album reached #35 in the U.S. (#35) and has been certified RIAA platinum.

Originally released May 19, 1976, Turnstiles, Joel’s fourth studio album, was a celebration of the artist’s return to New York with tracks directly referencing his love for his hometown: “Summer, Highland Falls,” “Miami 2017 (I’ve Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)” and the classic “New York State of Mind.” Turnstiles also premiered “Say Goodbye to Hollywood,” Joel’s tribute to the Ronettes, the quintessential New York girl group. Turnstiles peaked at #122 in the U.S. and has been certified Platinum by the RIAA.

Joel’s fifth studio album, The Stranger, originally released Sept. 29, 1977, made him a superstar. The first Joel album to be produced by Phil Ramone and the first to capture the chemistry of Joel in the studio with his road-tested touring ensemble, The Stranger was recorded in a mere three weeks and generated four Top 40 hits: “Just the Way You Are” (#3), “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)” (#17), “She’s Always a Woman” (#17) and “Only the Good Die Young” (#24). The album also introduced fans to the LP cut, “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.” The Stranger reached #2 on the U.S. album chart and has since achieved RIAA Diamond status. Its U.S. sales have been certified 11x Platinum. The Stranger brought Joel his first two Grammy Awards when “Just the Way You Are” took home trophies for Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the 21st Grammy Awards in 1978. It’s his top-selling non-compilation album to-date.

Watch the animated video for “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant”

More details below the links.

Originally released Oct. 11, 1978, 52nd Street, Joel’s sixth studio album, was his first to hit #1 on the Billboard chart. Exploring new musical directions, Billy and returning producer, Phil Ramone, added jazz musicians to the studio ensemble and created an album that generated three Top 40 singles–“My Life” (#3), “Big Shot” (#14) and “Honesty” (#24)–and won two Grammys including the 1980 Grammy for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male. One of the first albums to be commercially released on the then-emerging compact disc format, 52nd Street pays tribute to one of the centers of New York City’s mid-century jazz scene, the fabled 52nd Street, where the album was recorded a block away from the CBS Building. (Jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard plays the riffs on “Zanzibar.”) The RIAA has certified the album 7x Platinum.

Originally released in Sept. 1981 (and celebrating its 40th anniversary this year), Songs in the Attic, Joel’s first live album, features performances recorded in concert in June-July 1980, curated specifically to introduce new fans to his earlier 1970s material following the phenomenal mainstream success of The Stranger. The album peaked at #8 on Billboard and has been certified 3x Platinum by the RIAA.

Rounding out The Vinyl Collection, Vol.1 is the previously unreleased double 12″ vinyl bonus album, Live at The Great American Music Hall – 1975, recorded in San Francisco that June. The live gig from the Streetlife Serenade tour includes examples of Joel’s imitations of Joe Cocker, Elton John and Leon Russell – a staple of his early concerts.

Related: Our Album Rewind of The Stranger

Tickets to Billy Joel 2021-22 concert dates are available here and here.

Billy Joel – Live at The Great American Music Hall – 1975 Track Listing
Somewhere Along The Line
The Mexican Connection
Root Beer Rag
Intro of Band Members
You’re My Home
Cocker Imitation/You Are So Beautiful (Interlude)
Everybody Loves You Now
New York State Of Mind
Benny & The Jets (Interlude)
Travelin’ Prayer
Delta Lady (Interlude)
The Entertainer
The Ballad Of Billy The Kid
Ain’t No Crime
Weekend Song

Listen to “Everybody Loves You Now” live at the Great American Music Hall

Billy Joel – The Vinyl Collection, Vol.1
Cold Spring Harbor
Piano Man
Streetlife Serenade
The Stranger
52nd Street
Songs in the Attic
Live at The Great American Music Hall – 1975 (2-LPs)

Related: Our feature on Joel’s historic MSG residency and surprise guests

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