In 1977 Billy Joel’s 5th Album The Stranger was released. It would garner four Top 40 hits — "Just the Way You Are" (#3), "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" (#17), "Only the Good Die Young" (#24), and "She's Always a Woman" (#17). It was certified multi-platinum and Joel’s first Top Ten album, peaking at number 2. It would receive Grammy Nominations for Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Record of the Year, for "Just the Way You Are," and would win Song and Record of The Year. This would be the album that made Joel a household name.
To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of The Stranger Columbia has released Billy Joel – The Stranger 30th Anniversary. There are two versions: a 2-disc CD, and Deluxe edition which also includes a DVD and other extras.
In Billy Joel – The Stranger 30th Anniversary Deluxe edition you get the CD of "The Stranger" remastered by the original album producer, Phil Ramone. The album has never sounded better and you get many tunes that are well known and loved of the nine tracks, the first seven were old friends including "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" and the title track, while the remaining two tracks were fun to hear.
The 2nd CD is Live At Carnegie Hall 1977. This previously unreleased performance was taped one month before The Stranger and includes several songs before their album release. Joel always puts on a great live performance. I’ve seen him a few times and he blows the roof off wherever he performs. This was a little more laid back, but still a great performance nonetheless.
Also included is a DVD which has what’s called Live Promotional videos, basically the 1970’s version of music videos, two are included here: "The Stranger" and "Just The Way You Are" Next on the DVD is The Old Grey Whistle Test back in 1978 while promoting The Stranger Joel performed on The Old Grey Whistle Test which was a BBC2 program which has only aired once and has more live performances by Joel which are always welcome.
Finally on the DVD is a new 30 minute documentary about the making of The Stranger with new interviews with Billy Joel and Phil Ramone it was great to hear how the album came to be and the stories behind the classic songs.
And the box set has extras you get:
A 48 Page Booklet with liner notes by Rolling Stone Editor, David Fricke and un-seen photos from the original album photo shoot
A reproduction of Joel’s original lyric notebook, which is cool because you see all the various lyrics, variations and revisions and a reproduction of Billy’s Carnegie Hall poster.
Billy Joel – The Stranger 30th Anniversary Deluxe edition pulls out all the stops and is worth adding to your collection Joel diehard fan or casual listener.