Call it another matter of trust: Legacy Recordings is releasing a second Billy Joel vinyl box.
The Vinyl Collection, Vol. 2, releasing November 3, brings newly remastered and repressed LP versions of Joel's final six studio albums - Glass Houses (1980), The Nylon Curtain (1982), An Innocent Man (1983), The Bridge (1986), Storm Front (1989) and River of Dreams (1993) - plus the debut vinyl pressing of Joel's classical compositions set Fantasies & Delusions (2001) and the premiere audio release of his beloved Live from Long Island concert special, broadcast 40 years ago. All the audio has been transferred from original analog and digital sources by Joel's longtime mastering engineer Ted Jensen, with lacquers cut at Sterling Sound by Joe Nino Hernes. As with 2021's first vinyl box, an accompanying booklet will feature a new essay by Rob Tannenbaum alongside rare photos and era-appropriate memorabilia.
If The Vinyl Collection, Vol. 1 showcased Joel's long road to pop/rock stardom, Volume 2 offers a review of his phase as one of the dominant musicians of the decade. The singer/songwriter/pianist blasted into the '80s with Glass Houses, a chart-topping album that offered a cockeyed take on post-punk and New Wave sounds; "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" became his first No. 1 single. Follow-up The Nylon Curtain, issued two years later, mixed social commentary ("Allentown," the Vietnam monologue "Goodnight Saigon") with the stylized character studies fans loved ("Pressure," "Laura," "She's Right on Time"), and remains one of Joel's personal favorites.
It's here in the narrative that Live from Long Island comes in. Working with his road-tested backing band in the biggest venue on his home turf - Long Island's Nassau Coliseum - Joel brought together hits and great deep cuts for a stellar set that closed out 1982 in style. Live from Long Island was a popular draw on the early premium cable channel HBO and became an early home video favorite; for the first time in this package, it's available to listen to on its own, although the remastered video will be released for digital purchase the same day. (It's worth noting that the set is not listed as exclusive to this box, as was the case for Vol. 1's debut release of a 1975 live show that was later released on its own digitally and for Record Store Day this year.)
1983 brought a new sound and style for Joel: MTV was starting to make inroads, and the three decades since The Beatles reshaped pop culture had him thinking back to the music of his youth. As such, An Innocent Man blended Motown, doo-wop, and vintage soul with a modern sheen. "Tell Her About It" became another No. 1, and "Uptown Girl" followed at No. 3, both bolstered by memorable music videos - the latter of which featured Billy's bride-to-be Christie Brinkley. After a massively popular greatest hits package in 1985, The Bridge marked another transitional period a year later: it would be the last of six albums with producer Phil Ramone and his longtime live band. Hits "A Matter of Trust" and "Modern Woman" fused Joel's sensibilities with sounds similar to compatriots like Bruce Springsteen and Huey Lewis & The News.
Unusually, 1989's Storm Front found Joel joining forces with producer Mick Jones for an edgier album that procured more hits than you might realize - namely the compact history lesson "We Didn't Start the Fire" (his final No. 1 hit) and the upbeat "I Go to Extremes." (Garth Brooks later took the ballad "Shameless" to No. 1 on the country charts.) Four years elapsed before Joel returned to the pop charts with River of Dreams, a record that featured one more major hit (the Top 5 title track) but, perhaps more importantly, a not-so-hidden message in the lyrics to closing track "Famous Last Words": "These are the last words I have to say."
Astoundingly, Joel kept his promise: while he's toured consistently in the three decades since that album was released, his pop songs have been scarce: mostly covers for compilations, plus the romantic "All My Life," written for a woman whom Joel would likely wryly refer to as his "third ex-wife." (Brinkley and Joel divorced a year after River of Dreams came out; he and chef Katie Lee were married from 2004 to 2009, and Joel remains married to former equestrian Alexis Roderick since 2015. She's the mother of his youngest two daughters.) Nonetheless, Joel didn't entirely step away from writing: in 2001, he released the instrumental, classically-inspired Fantasies & Delusions, a collection of 10 solo piano pieces arranged and performed by Hyung-ki Joo. It's the last album in the set, and the first previously released work in the package to debut on LP.
You can pre-order The Vinyl Collection, Vol. 2 below.
* first time on vinyl
LP 1: Glass Houses (Columbia FC 36384, 1980)
LP 2: The Nylon Curtain (Columbia QC 38200, 1982)
LP 3: An Innocent Man (Columbia QC 38837, 1983)
LP 4: The Bridge (Columbia OC 40402, 1986)
LP 5: Storm Front (Columbia OC 44336, 1989)
LP 6: River of Dreams (Columbia CK 53303, 1993)
LP 7-8: Fantasies & Delusions (Columbia/Sony Classical CK 85397, 2001) *
LP 9-11: Live from Long Island (released on video as CBS/Fox 6297, 1983) *
- My Life
- Prelude/Angry Young Man
- Piano Man
- Don't Ask Me Why
- The Stranger
- Scandinavian Skies
- Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)
- She's Always a Woman
- Scenes from an Italian Restaurant
- Just the Way You Are
- Goodnight Saigon
- Until the Night
- It's Still Rock and Roll to Me
- Sometimes a Fantasy
- Big Shot
- You May Be Right
- Only the Good Die Young
All tracks recorded live at Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY - 12/29/1982