Piano Man offered Billy Joel enormous relief after he had become embittered by legal disputes with his record label, which in turn found him embarking on an exhausting tour to support “Cold Spring Harbor,” his debut album that failed to gain traction. Seeking refuge in his adopted hometown of Los Angeles, he spent six months as a lounge singer in a club. Despite the setbacks, he remained dedicated to his musical aspirations, using this time to craft songs, including the iconic "Piano Man," a fictionalized reflection of his experience as a lounge singer.
Motivated by his determined effort, Joel secured a contract with Columbia and proceeded to record his second album “Piano Man” in 1973. Drawing inspiration not only musically but also lyrically from Elton John's Tumbleweed Connection and James Taylor, Joel expanded the scope and sound from his debut album. The introspective tone of his earlier work, Cold Spring Harbor, gave way to character sketches and epics in Piano Man. Even the title track, a breakthrough hit derived from his stint as a saloon singer, shifted the focus onto the colorful patrons rather than the singer himself.
While Joel's narratives at times displays awkwardness or incompleteness, he compensates with music that imbued the songs with a sweeping sense of purpose. His indelible melodies and adept stylistic choices made the compositions feel complete. They flow with Western imagery and bluesy gospel elements, which can be identified uniquely as Joel's own creation.
Now for quad maniacs and high-resolution enthusiasts, Sony Japan is releasing a deluxe 50-year anniversary deluxe edition that includes a quad Hybrid-SACD, CD, and DVD. The quad layer is derived from the quadraphonic LP analog 4-channel mix master, which has been transferred to DSD for the first time at Sony Music Studio in Japan. Likewise, the stereo layer is a new DSD transfer from the analog 2-channel mix master, while the CD layer is a newly mastered source converted from the SACD DSD master to PCM.
In addition, the Blu-spec CD contains many unreleased demos and rare live recordings from the "Piano Man" era, including 7 songs that have never been released on CD before. The DVD (Region 2) rounds out this deluxe edition and contains rare live/music video footage, including eight songs that have never been released on DVD before.
Plus, the 7-inch mini-LP cardboard deluxe edition comes with a US press kit from 1973, 4 types of reissued replicas of Japanese LP obis, and other rare memorabilia. Also, inside the package fans will find lyrics and descriptions.
Releases February 28, 2024.
Japan 7" mini LP deluxe edition with Quad Hybrid-SACD with 4.0 & 2.0 DSD layers, CD, and Region 2 DVD. Also available for streaming on popular platforms, including a new Dolby Atmos mix. Vinyl editions and CD editions with different mastering are also available.
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About the Author
Wesley is a lifelong music enthusiast. He started his career in the recording industry in New York City as an audio engineer, producer, and studio manager. Subsequently he toured across America as a guitarist with the short-lived band Land's Crossing. After many years in the technology sector and amassing a substantial vinyl and CD collection, he delved into immersive audio and created Hi-Res Edition to share with other listeners about the sound quality and discrete mixes available on many formats. He recently upgraded his system to 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos and continues to seek out and share about the best sounding releases.