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A Review: Billy Joel – My Lives, Disc 2

By Brian | March 2, 2006 | Share on Facebook

This is the second in my series of reviews of the “My Lives” Box Set from Billy Joel. Scroll to the bottom of this post for links to reviews of the other discs.

For the rabid Billy Joel fan, Disc 2 will not be as exciting as Disc 1, primarily because it contains more album cuts that the rabid fan already has in his/her collection. The casual fan will be happier with it, though, since the album cuts are generally not obscurities, but songs that were released as singles and received some decent radio air play. Examples include An Innocent Man, Easy Money (which was the title song for a 1983 movie of the same name, starring Rodney Dangerfield and Joe Pesci), Modern Woman (which was on the Ruthless People soundtrack in 1986), and Baby Grand (the duet with Ray Charles).

Like Disc 1, this collection also includes some live performances, although Captain Jack sounds basically like the album version, and The Times They Are A Changin’ was already released on the Russian album. The golden nugget of the live tunes on this disc is I’ll Cry Instead, a Beatles cover that Joel did with Elton John at one of their Face-to-Face concerts. I always enjoy hearing Joel cover the Beatles – his attention to detail and his ability to do various musical styles (increasingly rare in today’s artists) make these versions good imitations of the original, but still come across sounding fresh and energetic.

The demo tracks on this disc are also interesting to the rabid fan. The End of the World eventually became Elvis Presley Blvd., which was released as the B-side to Allentown, back when records had B-sides. Elvis Presley Blvd. is also included, so you can hear how the lyrics went from intricate and cheesy to clever and catchy.

The Prime of Your Life eventually became For The Longest Time. This track is most interesting for the music, since he had very few words written when it was recorded (most of the track has him simply humming along). The music, though, is a very dense piano arrangement, and sounds very much like classical music. It’s funny to listen to the classical piano and hear the doo-wop in your head that it eventually morphed into.

Also of note is Christie Lee, his most explicit ode to Christie Brinkley (now referred to as “Ex #2″). The unreleased version is a swing number, but eventually became straight rock & roll when it appeared on the Innocent Man album.

There are other unreleased songs, including a version of Getting Closer with Steve Winwood (although Winwood never sings a note, so you wouldn’t know he was there unless you read the liner notes), and And So It Goes, which also sounds very much like the released version.

Then there’s the Roadhouse Blues number, House of Blue Light and the Beatles-esque Money or Love, both of which have nostalgic value to the rabid fan, but probably wouldn’t be appreciated by too many others.

All in all, I enjoyed Disc 2, but with a few exceptions, much prefer Disc 1. Stay tuned for more on Discs 3 and 4.

My other reviews:
Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
Disc 4

Topics: ISBS Reviews, Words about Music | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “A Review: Billy Joel – My Lives, Disc 2”

  1. mavzman says at May 2nd, 2007 at 12:49 pm :
    I love the Billy posts, being a huge fan of the man — saw him at MGS and Staples in 2006 and just last night in OKC. One note though, “I’ll Cry Instead”, was the b-side to the ‘An Innocent Man’ single.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Brian says at May 2nd, 2007 at 6:21 pm :
    Mavzman – glad you enjoyed the posts.

    I didn’t know he released “I’ll Cry Instead,” although I’m guessing that the live version on the My Lives disc is better than the studio verison…

    Learn something new every day…


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