Storm Front Yielded Billy Joel's Final Number 1 Hit, "We Didn't Start The Fire".
Released in 1989, this was the album that gave Billy Joel his fourth and final number 1 single: “We Didn’t Start The Fire”. The song cast such a shadow on the album that people are mostly unaware of what is included besides that chart-topper. The truth is that there are a handful of songs that keep up with Joel’s standards and craftsmanship. These are mostly segregated on the first side, and they include “I Go To Extremes” and “The Downeaster Alexa”. The former is an energetic number about bipolarity, whereas the latter is a spot-on commentary on the plight of fishermen at around that time.
Besides, the album includes “Leningrad” along with the bittersweet “And So It Goes”, a song rendered by Billy playing solo. I can’t help but notice how Elton John and Billy Joel share the same approach in some of his ’80s albums, ending them on a solo note. Elton does exactly the same on the “Sleeping With The Past” record, in which the ending track has him playing unaccompanied for a long stretch, and even when other instruments do come in the focus never strays from Elton’s piano. Continue reading →
Only two Billy Joel compilations that span two CDs have been issued so far. I have reviewed the first one here – it is the one named “Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II”. The second definitive compilation was issued in 2001, and it is the one entitled “The Essential Billy Joel”.
“Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II” has 35 tracks. “The Essential Billy Joel” has 36. The latter covers every single album he released, the former reaches up to “An Innocent Man”. His three final albums are not covered.
There is a very glaring omission as far as the “Essential” compilation goes: “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” has been neglected. The song is beloved by fans, and while it was never released as a single (the only justification the compilers have for the omission) its relevance within Joel’s catalog is something which can never be disputed. Continue reading →
At the time of its release (1985), “Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II” was the definitive Billy Joel collection. All his major works are covered (no less than 6 compositions are culled from “The Stranger”), and two new tracks were included to appease long-time fans that already had all the hits.
The first disc opens with his by now standard “Piano Man”, and culminates with the highlights from “The Stranger”. Included is “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant”, a true favorite of Joel’s fans along with the title-track and a song that topped the charts and which Billy doesn’t particularly like: “Just The Way You Are”. Continue reading →