40 years in music business. Over a 100 million albums sold. Various Grammy awards. Sold-out gigs all over the world. And that’s only a few achievements in this guy’s career! Quite good for a young boy that grew up poor, almost ended up as a boxer and spent some time in a lunatic asylum. Good for us that he realised early enough that there’s more to life than this!
I’m talking about Billy Joel, of course. And the reason I’m doing this is the release of this great retrospective box called My Lives. Containing four audio CDs, one concert DVD and a very informative booklet (no, change that, it’s almost a book!), this compilation has everything a fan desires. It is by far not a Greatest Hits compilation (he already has released a few of those before), but rather a musical Curriculum Vitae of the Piano Man.
CD 1 starts with his early days in various bands, and the journey ends on CD 4 with excerpts from his latest studio release, the classical album Fantasies And Delusions. Inbetween that, you will get lots and lots of unreleased tracks, demos, cover songs and live versions of his hits, and if you’re familiar with the man’s back catalogue, you’ll notice more than once that some of those demos later turned into Joel’s greatest hits. This is a very interesting experience.
Mind you though: if you only want to listen to Billy Joel‘s greatest hits, then this box is probably not the thing you want to buy, because most of those hits are here delivered in alternative versions. There are better compilations out there for Joel-Newbies. I’d recommend the Greatest Hits Vol. I & II and Greatest Hits Vol. 3. With those, you’re pretty safe! 🙂
I have been a big fan of Billy Joel‘s music for a long time now, and this box is a real treat for me. With his latest pop studio album – River Of Dreams – released back in 1993, and having abandonned the pop music business since then, it’s nice to finally have something new (although new is the wrong word, but you’ll know what I mean) in my hands. No one knows – except him, of course – if there’ll ever be a return of the Piano Man, but as for me, he can come back any time!