Billy Joel: Piano Man

It's the Sony Legacy Edition of Piano Man from Billy Joel. This two-disc set is pretty sweet--here's what they have to say for themselves:

The forthcoming Legacy Edition of Piano Man, Billy Joel's 1973 debut album on Columbia Records, includes the 10-song original album in its entirety, remastered for this release in addition to a second disc premiering the first-ever release of Billy's mythic performance at Philadelphia's Sigma Sound Studio on April 15, 1972 (a year prior to his signing with Columbia). Philadelphia Daily News music writer Jon Takiff, an eye-witness to the event, has penned a new essay on the Sigma Sound show for the Legacy Edition of Piano Man.

The release and failure of a flawed Cold Spring Harbor, his first solo album, on an indie label in 1971 prompted then-struggling musician Billy Joel to go to Los Angeles and cut-his-chops incognito in local piano bars as Bill Martin (chronicled in Piano Man's title track). Unbeknown to Billy, WMMR, a top-rated Philadelphia FM station, had begun spinning "Captain Jack," a live track from a Billy Joel show they'd recorded at Sigma Sound, and the station's phones were going off-the-hook. The "Captain Jack" live recording was turning into a bonafide underground FM anthem, opening the door for a New York audition, competing major label interest, and a Columbia Records contract for the song's author and performer.

"Columbia was Bob Dylan's label," Billy said. "That was the deciding factor. At this time, you were allowed to build your career through FM radio, album tracks, concerts, singles and Bob Dylan was iconic for not being a hit singles type of artist. This was a company that knows how to build a career with an artist, so we decided to go with Columbia.

"I never sat down and said I'm gonna write a hit record. I wouldn't know a hit record if it bit me. I just wrote songs. I wrote them for me, I wrote them for the band, or I wrote a song for the women in my life. I was just writing songs for me. It's music that I wanted to hear. If I didn't hear certain kind of music on the radio, I realized, 'Well, if I write and record this it'll probably be on the radio and that's what I'll hear.' That's what I was thinking. Not so much about having hits, but about making music that I liked. I only really ever did it for me. That may sound selfish, but I'm the only person that I really know all that well."

The Legacy Edition of Piano Man makes available, for the first time ever, Billy's full performance at Sigma Sound, re-mixed from the original studio recording. The concert includes three Billy Joel songs--"Long, Long Time," "Josephine," and "Rosalinda"--which do not appear on any other albums by the artist and, of course, the performance of "Captain Jack" which launched one of the most remarkable careers in show business. The legendary Sigma Sound performance is available exclusively on the new Legacy Edition of Piano Man (and is not included on The Complete Albums Collection).

Did that just say "The Complete Albums Collection"? Yes. And it's exactly what the title implies. Fourteen albums plus a bonus disc of rare stuff. For all the info, check it out here.

Anyway, back to Piano Man. We've got a copy of the new re-release to give away. Want to win one? Excellent. Here's how that happens: you enter using the form below. Remember you can enter once a day. If we draw your name when the contest ends, you snag it! Good luck!

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