Billy Joel Piano Man: Legacy Edition

The criteria for an album getting the deluxe two-CD reissue isn't immediately obvious anymore because pretty much every album that's more than a decade old will show up eventually. That said, on occasion, some impressive material is unearthed, as is the case with Piano Man. Originally released towards the end of 1973, Billy Joel's second album is from the Almost Famous era, where singer-songwriters jostled with rock bands in the charts. At that time, Joel was a fresh face who was like an American Elton John and it wasn't very long before the title track became his signature tune. It's still a good album, ranking amongst his best. The second disc is the reason to own this new edition though, as there's nothing new on the original. Disc two features a legendary live show recorded for a radio station in Philadelphia back in 1972 before he was signed to Columbia. The majority of the songs are from his first album, Cold Spring Harbor, with three that would end up on Piano Man and another three that never made it onto any record. The show ably demonstrates why it was Joel's live show that was the reason he got signed, rather than his flawed debut. Even his down-to-earth banter between songs works to his advantage, although the star of the show is his piano playing, which drives every song. A great concert and fans will want to pick up the complete version of this much-bootlegged show. (Sony)