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Album Retrospectives

EP 072 – Billy Joel Live At Yankee Stadium (Unboxing + Track By Track Overview)

Filmed over two nights in June 1990, Live at Yankee Stadium was a hit on VHS and on cable TV upon its release later that year. But, it’s been overlooked in the decades after, with only a handful of songs available and a production style that quickly felt dated.

 

 

But, that’s all changed with a deluxe release in the fall of 2022. Fans got to see a newly-edited version of the film in theaters, complete with footage of an unreleased song. That new cut is now available on Blu-ray with a 2CD set featuring those tracks plus 11 never-before-heard performances from the historic two night stand. The full, 22-song live album is also out as a 3LP vinyl set. 

 

 

Over the summer, we spoke with director Jon Small and producer Steve Cohen about the making of the original film and the story behind its reimagining. Now, we’re getting the full picture with the official, updated release. 

 

 

In this episode, we’ll recount our unboxing of the Blu-ray + 2CD package and vinyl edition. Then, we’ll share our comments and observations on each song in the 22-track set. 

 

 

Join us as we dig deep into the remixed, remastered, and expanded version of Billy Joel: Live At Yankee Stadium.

 

 

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Produced by Michael Grosvenor & Jack Firneno for Groove Music Marketing

 

 

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EP 068 – Album Retrospective: The Nylon Curtain

The Nylon Curtain wasn’t nearly as popular as Billy Joel’s albums just before and after this release. But, it still spawned a handful of hits, classics, and perennial fan favorites and concert staples. And today, it’s regarded by fans and critics as Billy’s most accomplished artistic statement.

 

Released in 1982, The Nylon Curtain came just after the string of smash hit albums from The Stranger in 1977 through Glass Houses in 1980, and the live Songs In the Attic that rewrote his early work.

 

And, it was released less than a year before An Innocent Man would race up the charts and capture a new generation of fans.

 

In contrast to the harder-edged rock of Glass Houses and the bouncy fun of An Innocent Man, The Nylon Curtain is a thoughtful, occasionally dark, and sonically adventurous affair.

 

It’s often lauded as his most Beatlesque album. And, it’s certainly one of Billy’s most thoughtful releases as he tackles war, aging, and social dilemmas throughout its nine songs.

 

Join us as we take a long look behind The Nylon Curtain

 

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EP 054 – Album Retrospective: Piano Man

Billy Joel’s second solo album included his most iconic song. And the one that provided his breakthrough success and pointed the way for his post-West Coast work. But surrounding the title track and “Captain Jack” are the sounds of a songwriter still finding his way. Fortunately for us, that path is still pretty exciting. 

 

Released in 1973, Piano Man lays much of the blueprint for the hits to come. We hear great melodies, virtuosic piano playing, and a variety of styles. There’s also that flair for theatrical drama that earned him just as many comparisons to Great American Songbook-style writing as it did to rock and roll. 

 

But, there are also country and gospel elements that Joel would soon abandon. And, the lyrical and songwriting skills that would provide him with dozens of hit records later were still developing here. 

 

In fact, as we’ll learn, it was once slated to be his last album for a major label instead of the start of his ascent to global superstardom. 

 

Despite all this, Piano Man is a record filled with big hits, classic songs, and fan favorites. And, it was an important step toward the turns Billy’s career would take in just a few short years. 

 

Join us as we dig deep into Billy Joel’s major-label solo debt, Piano Man.

 

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EP 042 – Album Retrospective: The Bridge

Almost a decade after the breakout hit album The Stranger, the Billy Joel machine was showing some signs of wear. That strain was evident on his 1986 album The Bridge

 

After a string of multi-platinum, chart-topping, and award-winning records, Billy was worn out and wanted to be home with his family instead of back in the studio. 

 

Meanwhile, relationships were strained between his long-time band mem bers after years and years in and out of tour busses and recording studios. 

 

All this was weighing on Billy and the band as they headed back into the studio to record their followup to An Innocent Man. That album felt light and breezy, and was stacked with bright and bouncy pop hits. By contrast, The Bridge would sound more labored and strained, and would explore more turbulent themes. 

 

But, even one of Billy’s least-regarded albums still contains flashes of brilliance that are worth seeking out. On one hand, the record sounds dated and locked in the 80s. But on the other, it’s like a time capsule to the pop music of that decade. 

 

The album is also dotted with guests that personify the era in which it was recorded while also tracing the roots of Joel’s career and musical influences. 

 

Join us as we dive deep in Billy Joel’s 1986 album The Bridge

 

 

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EP 034 – Album Retrospective: 12 Gardens Live

Usually, a late-career live album is a victory lap, an excuse to tour, or at worst, an excuse to make some extra cash. For Billy Joel, however, it was a sign that he was back on the scene. 

 

Released on June 13, 2006, 12 Gardens Live is a two-disc set. It features performances from Billy’s groundbreaking run of a dozen shows at Madison Square Garden between January 23 and April 24 of that year.

 

In many ways, it feels like a retrospective: You have all the big hits, fan favorites, plus a handful of rarities that even hardcore fans never though they’d hear live. 

 

But, 12 Gardens Live also serves as proof of concept for Billy’s return to touring after a two-year sabbatical. And, it sets the tone for his monthly Garden residency that began in 2014. 

 

With the exception of Mike DelGuidice, who joined the fold in late 2013, the album features the new solidified lineup he’s used ever since. The exception to that is the return of saxophonist Richie Cannata, who played alongside Mark Rivera on this tour. 

 

Other than that, this document laid the groundwork for the next 14 years and, hopefully many more to come. 

 

Join us as we dig deep into 12 Gardens Live.

 

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EP 029 – Album Retrospective: River of Dreams

Billy Joel’s last album is a study in contrasts. It sounds like a new beginning, when it was really the end of an era. It alternated between gritty, angular rhythms and sweet, flowing melodies. It’s arguably one of his most divisive albums. Yet it earned him a handful of award nominations, a new generation of fans, 5 million in record sales in America alone, and a pair of songs that would become classics and mainstays in his live shows  

River of Dreams was released on August 10, 1993. It’s Billy’s 12th studio album, and the last pop record he’d release. He switched producers once again after Storm Front, and jettisoned the last of his classic lineup mid-way through the production to complete it. 

As a result, fans have mixed feelings about the record. But a close listen reveals lyrical and arrangement motifs that weave through the whole album. Put together, they form a narrative arc that starts with the frustrations and turmoil of everyday life, leads to a spiritual reawakening, and comes to rest with a peaceful reconciliation with the world and sense of optimism for what’s to come. 

 Join us as we dig deep into River of Dreams.

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EP 017 – Album Retrospective: Streetlife Serenade

1974 saw Billy Joel back in the studio mere months after 1973’s Piano Man.  Billy wasn’t ready for a new album but pushed his way through to complete Streetlife Serenade which was released October 11, 1974 on Columbia Records.

The album peaked at #35 on the album charts and featured the single “The Entertainer,” which is the sole song that has gotten a significant amount of live performances since its release.

 

Michael & Jack discuss this often forgotten and under documented album and shed some light on some lesser known gems.

They also go song by song through the album and discuss each track and their reflections on each.

 

BILLY JOEL – STREETLIFE SERENADE

One side
1. Streetlife Serenader
2. Los Angelenos
3. The Great Suburban Showdown
4. Root Beer Rag
5. Roberta

Another side
6. The Entertainer
7. Last of the Big Time Spenders
8. Weekend Song
9. Souvenir
10. The Mexican Connection

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EP 008 – Album Retrospective: Billy Joel Greatest Hits Volume I & II

1985 brings us Billy Joel’s first Greatest Hits release with Greatest Hits Volume I & II which covered songs from 1973’s Piano Man through the two new songs for 1985, “You’re Only Human (Second Wind)” and “The Night Is Still Young.” Greatest Hits Volume I & II has gone on to be one of the greatest selling albums of all time.

Michael & Jack discuss the various formats and track listings of this set, their memories on it as well as the different radio edits that were used in the initial releases.

We also hear from Billy himself from this great archival interview with Dan Neer from the Billy Joel album party radio celebration from 1985 where he discusses the two new songs mentioned above.

To kick things off, we have a very special performance from Billy from May 11th as a part of the virtual telethon Rise Up New York, the Robin Hood Relief Benefit.

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EP 007 – Live Album & Video Retrospective: Live At Shea Stadium

Michael & Jack revisit the historic 2008 Shea Stadium concerts from Flushing, New York in Queens. The Beatles performed the first concert at Shea and New York’s son, Billy Joel, appropriately closed out the stadium with the final two concerts before the Shea’s ultimate demolition.

This viewing / listening companion goes song by song through the live CD / DVD highlighting special moments and special guests along the way.

Special guest performers during the two concerts that are included in this set are: Tony Bennett, Garth Brooks, John Mayer, Steven Tyler, Roger Daltrey, John Mellencamp, and of course, Sir Paul McCartney.

EP 003 – Album Retrospective: Cold Spring Harbor

Michael & Jack revisit Billy’s first album, from its pre-production demos, to the botched finished product under Artie Ripp’s Family Productions, Columbia’s 1983 remix and reissue, and everything in between.

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