Billy Joel: The Hits

19 hits and favorites from 23 years of music making

In prelude to a thorough reissue of his album catalog, Billy Joel is celebrated on this first-ever career-spanning domestic single disc anthology. Joel’s catalog has been excerpted more fully on the three-disc Greatest Hits series [1 2] and multidisc sets Essential and Complete Hits, but this is the first time his lengthy catalog has been condensed to a single U.S. CD. The nineteen tracks provide a compact tour through twenty-three years of music-making, selecting recordings from every Joel album from 1971’s Cold Spring Harbor through 1993’s River of Dreams. The selections mostly follow his hit-making, though the inclusion of the non-single “Everybody Loves You Now” and the non-charting “New York State of Mind” helps flesh out the hit-maker’s further identity as an album artist. This isn’t a complete recitation of even Joel’s biggest hits – “Just the Way You Are” and “Uptown Girl” are missing, the latter perhaps a victim of divorce – but it’s a musically satisfying 80-minute tour through a rich catalog of hit singles and multiplatinum albums. Radio and concert favorites like “Piano Man,” “Only the Good Die Young,” “Big Shot,” “You May Be Right,” “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” and “We Didn’t Start the Fire” will give Joel’s fans a charge and provide a great introduction to those who didn’t live through his hit-making years. Joel’s fascination with ‘60s doo-wop is heard in “The Longest Time” and his affection for Brill Building pop is lovingly evoked by the Ronettes-styled “Say Goodbye to Hollywood.” This is a good buy at a great price for those new to Joel’s catalog, especially if you’re not ready to pay for a multi-disc set. This collection fills a niche for newcomers; fans will have to wait for the album reissues to get their hands on rarities and previously unreleased tracks. [©2010 hyperbolium dot com]

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