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Greatest Hits Volume 1 and Volume 2
Billy Joel
Greatest Hits Volume 1 and Volume 2
Genres: Folk, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock, Metal
It's one of the cruel ironies of music today that Billy Joel has been relegated to a kind of adult-contemporary hell, where his legacy is measured by soft-rock staples such as "Just the Way You Are," "Piano Man," and "New ...  more »


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It's one of the cruel ironies of music today that Billy Joel has been relegated to a kind of adult-contemporary hell, where his legacy is measured by soft-rock staples such as "Just the Way You Are," "Piano Man," and "New York State of Mind." To be sure, well-crafted ballads are a part of his legacy, but they're hardly the whole story, as this collection of his early and mid-period hits amply demonstrates. From the unbridled biographical boasting of "The Entertainer" and the ambitious storytelling of "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" to the careening abandon of "Only the Good Die Young" and the thoughtful social commentary of "Allentown," Joel was as complete an artist as the last three decades have produced. --Daniel Durchholz

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Member CD Reviews

Karin M. (sopwithcamel) from FORTUNA, CA
Reviewed on 6/7/2008...
Truly one of the best 'driving' albums ever made. I drive a truck, and have for 17 years. I spend alot of time listening to music. I had to replace 11 tapes of this album before CD's came out. Again, IMO, one of the best if not the best albums to drive to ever recorded.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.

CD Reviews

Some Things You May Not Know About The Remastered GHVI&II
birddogger5150 | Roseville, MN USA | 10/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If you already own the previous non-remastered bulky "double-clamshell" version of this 2-disc set from 1985 and have wondered if it would really be worth it to upgrade to the remastered version from 1998, here's some things to think about:Six songs that were released in edited versions on the previous edition have now been restored to their full original studio album lengths. They are (along with old/new running time) - "The Stranger" (4:55/5:09), "Just The Way You Are" (3:34/4:51), "My Life" (3:50/4:44), "Big Shot" (3:43/4:02), "She's Got A Way" (2:44/3:02), "Pressure" (3:13/4:37)"Say Goodbye To Hollywood" is now the original 1976 version from "Turnstiles". On the previous edition, it was the live version from 1981's "Songs In The Attic". The 1981 version became a Top 20 hit, so if you favor that one, you may want to hang on to your old non-remastered GHVI&II. I probably prefer the live version simply because I'm more familiar with it and it seems to have more energy than the original, but that alone wasn't enough to keep me from parting with my old GHVI&II.The bonus multimedia material included is pretty much the same kind of superfluous window dressing found on other discs of this nature - discographies, album covers, etc., all of which of course can be readily found on the Internet (if you didn't know that, you wouldn't be reading this right now, right?). It does however, contain the videos for the two "new" songs on this record, "You're Only Human (Second Wind)" and "The Night Is Still Young". "You're Only Human" is actually a very good video for an otherwise so-so song, with Billy playing the angel role in yet another spin on "It's A Wonderful Life". However, one still kind of wishes they'd left off all this stuff and just used the space to add a couple more well-known songs like "Honesty", "Prelude/Angry Young Man", "Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)", "Sometimes A Fantasy", or "Leave A Tender Moment Alone". And of course, the remastered sound is excellent (acoustic/piano-based acts like Billy Joel benefit greatly from remastering), and the packaging is an improvement over the former version. For me, the extended versions of the songs alone are worth the upgrade, but consider all of the information presented here and make your own best judgement!"
Focuses on Billy's Hits - but also take note...
L.A. Scene | Indian Trail, NC USA | 03/18/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"With a 14 year career and 10 studio albums under his belt, Billy Joel was long overdue for a greatest hits album. At the same time, Billy Joel had established himself as premier act in the music industry. With his 1985 release "Billy Joel Greatest Hits Volume I and Volume II", Billy Joel delivers a 2 CD set that takes his "top hits" from his previous albums. In addition, Billy adds two "new songs" ("You're Only Human" and "The Night is Still Young") - both are of the high caliber quality of music that his fans have become accustomed to. Overall, there may be some minor quirks, but this is a solid set of Billy's work

I look at Billy Joel's career as having three phases. The first phase is what I call "Old Billy Joel". This basically includes all of his material from "Cold Spring Harbor" through "Turnstiles". These are perhaps the strongest days as the piano sound, but they also contain most of Joel's least heard material. The next phase is what I call "Middle Billy Joel". This was his most successful period and covers from "The Stranger" to "Billy Joel Greatest Hits Volume I and Volume II". Joel would go through a transition during this phase - expanding his musical horizons and exploring different avenues. The final phase is the "Later Billy Joel" phase - this covers "The Bridge" to "River of Dreams". "Greatest Hits Volume I and Volume II covers the two phases - "Old Billy Joel and "Middle Billy Joel".

As mentioned above, this collection focuses on Billy's "top hits". With a few exceptions, this focuses on the songs that were the most commercially successful singles from his studio albums. As a result, some songs that are considered "Billy Joel Classics" are not on here. The most notable songs that are missing are: "Angry Young Man", "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)", "Vienna", "Honesty", "Stiletto", "Sometimes a Fantasy", "All For Leyna", "Laura", "Leave a Tender Moment Alone", and "An Innocent Man" (this song was included on a a later release "Volume 3"). In fairness, there are still 25 songs included over 2 CDs - so there is a lot of music and I can understand not being able to fit these songs. In fairness, I wouldn't have dropped any of the 25 songs that were included.

It is important to understand that there are two versions of "Greatest Hits Volume I and Volume II". The original release included edited (i.e. shortened) versions of several tracks from their original studio albums. These tracks include: "The Stranger", "Just the Way You Are", "My Life", "Big Shot", and "Pressure". This original release also includes two live versions of older songs taken from "Songs From the Attic" ("She's Got a Way" and "Say Goodbye to Hollywood"). There was a remastered edition that was released in 1998. The nice thing is that these include the full versions of the edited songs as they were on their original studio albums. As for the live songs, they have been replaced with the studio versions ("She's Got a Way" from "Cold Spring Harbor" and "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" from "Turnstiles"). Although I like having the live versions, I much prefer having full versions of songs to edited versions (I have no use for any song that is shortened from its original form), therefore I would advise getting the remastered version.

In addition to "Greatest Hits Volume I and II", there are several other compilations available. In 1997 Billy would release "Greatest Hits Volume III" that would include songs from the "Later Billy Joel" phase plus "An Innocent Man" and "Keeping the Faith" ("Middle Billy Joel songs). Billy would release a boxed set called "Billy Joel: Complete Hits Collection" that includes the remastered version of "Greatest Hits Volume I and II", "Greatest Hits Volume 3", and a fourth disk that includes outtakes and live versions from a College Tour he did. In 2001, Billy Joel would release anothe two disc collection entitled "The Essential Billy Joel". This collection does include some songs missing from "Greatest Hits Volume I and II" (i.e. "Miami 2017", Honesty", and "Leave a Tender Moment Alone"), however that collection is missing "The Stranger", "Pressure", and "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant". Despite the inclusion of some of the missing songs on "Greatest Hits Volume I and Volume II", I would avoid "The Essential Billy Joel" Overall, my first choice would be to go the Boxed Set collection, but if you want to focus on just Phases 1 and 2, then get the remastered "Greatest Hits Volume I and Volume II".

One thing that I like about "Greatest Hits Volume I and Volume II" is that the collection is in chronological order of when the songs are released - for the most part. There are some minor quirks with this: "She's Got a Way" was really from Billy's first album, so it should be the first song - however it is included just before "The Nylon Curtain" tracks because the original version of this collection had the live version from "Songs From the Attic". On the other hand, on the original version of the collection, they include the "Songs From the Attic" version of "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" with the "Turnstiles" songs (they do get this right on the remastered release). By having songs in chronological order, it allows me to see how the artist progresses and changes over time.

My version of the collection came in a "double CD case" with a nice booklet. In an unusual move for a Greatest Hits collection - all of the lyrics are included. The musician and production credits are included only for the new songs. Overall, this is a great place to get those "Phase 1 and 2" Billy Joel "Hits" in one place. I'd still recommend trying for the Boxed Set, but if not - the remastered version is the next best thing."