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The Stranger

Billy Joel

1977

Buy At Rough Trade
The Stranger
Album Summary

The Stranger is the fifth studio album by American singer Billy Joel, released in September 1977 by Columbia Records. It was the first of Joel's albums to be produced by Phil Ramone, with whom he would work for five subsequent albums.The Stranger was released a year following Joel's previous studio effort, Turnstiles, which had sold modestly and peaked low on the US charts, prompting Columbia to consider dropping Joel if his next release did not sell well. Joel wanted the album to feature his newly formed touring band that had formed during the production of Turnstiles, which consisted of drummer Liberty DeVitto, bassist Doug Stegmeyer, and multi-instrumentalist saxophonist/organist Richie Cannata. Seeking out a new producer, he first turned to veteran Beatles producer George Martin before coming across and settling on Ramone, whose name he had seen on albums by other artists such as Paul Simon. Recording took place across the span of three weeks, with DeVitto, Stegmeyer and Cannata being featured in addition to other studio musicians filling in as guitarists on various songs. Spending six weeks at No. 2 on the US Billboard 200, The Stranger is considered Joel's critical and commercial breakthrough. Four singles were released in the US, all of which became top-40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 charts: "Just the Way You Are" (No. 3), "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)", "She's Always a Woman" (both No. 17), and "Only the Good Die Young" (No. 24). Other songs, such as "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" and "Vienna", have become staples of his career and are frequently performed in his live shows. The album won two awards at the 1978 Grammy Awards, winning Record of the Year as well as Song of the Year for "Just the Way You Are". It remains his best-selling non-compilation album to date, and surpassed Simon & Garfunkel's Bridge over Troubled Water to become Columbia's best-selling album release, with more than 10 million units sold worldwide. Rolling Stone later named it one of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.84

Votes

13936

Genres

  • Rock
  • Singer Songwriter

Reviews

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Mon May 17 2021
4

It's fashionable to rank on Billy Joel. Hell, he brought it on himself with the 2nd act of his career in the 80s. Actually, this is one of those rare times when it's legitimate to talk about an artist's personal life impacts his professional work. Billy Joel made bank in the 70s, but his accountant embezzled it all and fled with his ill gotten gains to Brazil. (Joel's wife Christie Brinkley, an astute businesswoman who happened to also be a model, was the one who figured out he was being swindled.) Just about the time that Billy Joel was set to wind down his career, he was forced to go back to work and rebuild his fortune. It showed in his subsequent work. All the accusations against Joel, that he was a hack, a journeyman without a soul, an expert at mimicking other better artists, a charlatan and a fake, were seemingly confirmed by tripe like We Didn't Start The Fire and Pressure. But it wasn't always so. Billy Joel's earnestness and tin pan alley style songcraft and slick and mannered performance style couldn't be less fashionable nowadays, but he was actually a skilled musician who had a knack for penning sharply observed working class vignettes. Nowhere was this more evident than in The Stranger, Joel's commercial peak. Aside from Just The Way You Are, which was inescapable in weddings for at least a generation, the album is stuffed with earworms and memorable tales like Moving Out, Only The Good Die Young, Get It Right The First Time, and Scenes From an Italian Restaurant. Only the closer Everybody Has A Dream, with Billy Joel channeling his inner Ray Charles, tips into unrestrained bathos. For those who despise Billy Joel, I get it, but the craft and skill here are undeniable. I myself prefer my music much less mainstream, not so slick, etc, so I'll dun this pretty much perfectly executed album a star. 4/5

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Thu Nov 12 2020
5

Fucking great album. Tons of tracks that stand out as singles, but also work together to tell a complete and compelling story

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Wed Sep 29 2021
3

Yikes...Billy Joel. The natural reaction to being asked to listen to Billy Joel is to recoil. This is the man that brought the world Uptown Girl, after all. The video from the Westlife cover version of that song still occasionally frequents my nightmares. Those four (or is it five?) cherubic Irish scamps, running amok in some kind of 50s cafeteria, dancing with mops and buckets in their blue rockabilly shirts. How can I forgive Billy Joel for being the nexus event that led to that?! The problem is, you can't help but enjoy The Stranger. It's the sort of album you might expect The Special Forces to pump through a tannoy into a Guantanamo cell, on repeat - along with the Barney theme tune - assuming it will grind a terrorist suspect into confession, only to find it has indoctrinated them into being Kool-Aid-drinking, American Dream-obsessing aficionados. It's just so American. But it's the America of a not-too-distant but completely bygone era. Some pre-Internet other-world where people lived like the lead characters from Friends. Close your eyes and imagine Chandler Bing listening to 'Just the Way You Are', before running out into the hustle of Fifth Avenue in his navy cashmere overcoat and chasing after the girl of his dreams, barging people out of the way so that he can catch up with her and then have a panic attack and not tell her how he feels. Like Hootie and the Blowfish's 'Cracked Rear View', Billy Joel's 'The Stanger' is music for the Chandler Bings. Either that or it's music for the Patrick Batemans. But before you've worked out which one it is, you're hooked by the fun jingle-jangle of the opening track, Movin' Out, and it doesn't really matter either way. Then the piano from the title track kicks in and you recognise it as the sample from Xzibit's amazing 'At the Speed of Life' track 'The Foundation', and before you know it you've worked your way through the entire album to 'Everybody Has a Dream' and you've walked into a New York fashion outlet and bought an expensive navy cashmere overcoat of your very own. And when you leave that shop you're gunna have no choice but listen to The Stranger on your Walkman again as you hit the high street. Some people will look at you and see a Chandler Bing. Others will look at you and see a Patrick Bateman. But by this point you don't really care. You're living in some weird alternate early 90s white collar central park office block coffee shop wall street burst fire hydrant subway train American dream. Thanks a lot Billy Joel.

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Thu Jun 02 2022
2

I like where the first song goes "ACK, ACK, ACK, ACK, ACK".

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Tue Apr 06 2021
5

Just straight beautiful, catchy, well written songs

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Sat Jan 23 2021
5

Every song is a stone cold hit. Short and sweet, leaves you wanting more.

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Thu Jan 14 2021
1

The music and instrumentation in Billy's music is always fantastic, but his lyrical work and storytelling is a huge showstopper for me. "A bottle of red, a bottle of white/It all depends upon your appetite/I'll meet you any time you want/In our Italian Restaurant"? Come on, the only thing cheesier than that would be... Velveeta fondue. Things took a turn for the unsettling when I got around to actually listening to the lyrics of "Only The Good Die Young", and I honestly gave up on the album after that. Billy Joel is the straighter, less interesting, slightly creepy Elton John, and I'd honestly be perfectly fine never hearing a song of his agian.

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Tue Feb 02 2021
5

Really good album, so used to hi greatest hits it was great to listen to the original album and get the added song flow. Loved it.

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Tue May 11 2021
5

Is it because you'd have to turn the dial in the car just right in order to get the right channel, so you just left it on something that played static free music and so you heard a lot of Billy Joel? Or is this really an album you want to be stranded on an island with?

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Thu Apr 15 2021
5

YESSSS UNCLE BILLY Literal excellence Favorites: Just The Way You Are Vienna She's Always A Woman Everybody Has A Dream

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Wed Nov 10 2021
5

I almost knocked a star off because of the saxophone solo but I couldn't do it. The storytelling on display here is top-notch. Joel's performances are flawless and his songwriting is compelling. Just a really great album stacked with songs that are full of all the feels.

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Sat Mar 19 2022
2

In the pantheon of adult contemporary singer-songwriters who meandered out of the 70s, Billy Joel sits somewhere in the middle with Springsteen. A touch better than the bland whiteness of Rod Stewart, John Mellencamp, and Bryan Adams, but no where near the quality of Warren Zevon or solo Paul Simon. It's not an awful album, but it shouldn't really be on a list of essential listening. This is an album to listen to while bonding with your aunt over herbal tea and zucchini bread while she busts out old 35mm pictures of bridges she took while on a bicycle tour of the US.

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Thu Dec 10 2020
5

moving owt lol this has all the best billy joel song imo hence this is the best billy joel album for me (so far)

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Tue Feb 02 2021
5

A couple of songs I was not familiar with, but the ones I know are some of my favourites.

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Wed Jan 13 2021
5

Classic Joel Scenes from an Italian good for long-form Pretty good shortforms/casuals

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Sun Mar 12 2023
5

I'm a big fan of Billy Joel. This was my first introduction to Billy Joel when I was a child. Still embodies New York Romanticism to me. I love the balance of this album there's so many fun songs.

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Mon Aug 23 2021
4

Pour la petite anecdote, Billy Joel avait écrit cet album en pensant le proposer à Michael Jackson. Ce dernier refusa et c'est finalement Shrek qui eut la chance de l'interpréter.

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Tue May 18 2021
5

grande billy joel do uptown girl

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Wed Jun 08 2022
2

Hell of an ear for a tune but the beat leaves a lot to be desired. As for his stories, simply not engaging, which has something to do with his treacly McCartney voice, and even more to do with hollowness plain and simple. Songs about nothing more than being songs.

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Tue May 11 2021
5

Holy toledo. This is an entire career on a single album. Pretty damn impressive.

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Mon Feb 15 2021
5

Really quite good. Certified bangerlicious

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Mon Jun 28 2021
5

This album promotes ear strengths- varied and catchy and I haven’t heard it all together before

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Fri Jan 15 2021
5

Loved it. Each song was like a story and I’ll definitely be listening multiple times.

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Tue Jun 08 2021
5

This album forms almost a quarter of the tracks on his Greatest Hits collection (5 out of 21), but they're all good.

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Sun Mar 21 2021
5

Bloody loved this album. What a singer and songwriter he is.

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Thu Feb 04 2021
5

too close to be impartial. If that's what it's all about... Billy, I love you just the way you are.

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Fri Sep 08 2023
2

Great record…makes me wanna get wasted on Schlitz, hop in my sports car and crash it into my neighbors front yard in the Hamptons.

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Wed Mar 24 2021
5

One of best pop albums of the 70s, of all-time indeed. An inspired man at the peak of his powers.

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Fri Feb 12 2021
5

Every song is a stone cold hit. Short and sweet, leaves you wanting more.

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Thu Apr 15 2021
5

Absolute classic. Non stop hits. Love the key changes. Probably the best album in a brilliant career.

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Sun Mar 21 2021
5

A grand record! It turns out I know every song on this album from my childhood. It's an album about life, modernity, struggle, love, death, all of it. It has an everyman quality about it and the production is divine. Not one bad song on the record. I bought it just now!

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Thu May 20 2021
5

Great album front to back! Big fan

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Thu May 06 2021
5

Amazing classic album! Fav tracks include Vienna, Movin’ Out, and Only the Good Die Young! However, each track was great and very enjoyable!

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Thu Apr 22 2021
5

Hit after hit, it's almost a cliche.

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Thu Apr 15 2021
5

Best Songs: - Movin Out - Vienna Love the outro

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Sat Jun 19 2021
5

A great album start to finish! I didnt realise how many of Joel's greatest songs were on this album.

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Tue May 11 2021
5

5/5 - Super cool. Whoever said he was in between EJ and PmC was right - very nice vibe to it

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Wed Jun 23 2021
5

Classic. Love every song. Five out of Five Stars. Favorite songs. Scene's From an Italian Restaurant, Vienna, The Stranger, Everybody Has a Dream and all the hits (Moving Out, Just the Way you are, Only the Good Die Young, She's Always a Woman).

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Mon Aug 02 2021
5

I was already familiar with this one so it was great to have an excuse to put it on the new system at home. Anyone who doesn’t rate this album 5 stars is crazy.

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Mon Aug 23 2021
5

There is a dearth of truly memorable songs in today’s pop landscape, and this is an album full of them. The Stranger is a tight, beautifully produced collection of catchy, classic songs. It’s one of the great albums of its era and delightful to listen to, always. It’s impressive to me looking now how many hits reside on this album. Some of the songs have been overplayed in the past 40 years, but they also ended up being true classics. It’s hard to hear this album and not find a song you know very well. Joel's longevity is a testament to his singular talents as a singer and songwriter, as well as the universal likeability of this music. Admit it, it's also hard to listen to this album and not find yourself in a good mood. Fave songs: The Stranger, Vienna, I'm Movin' Out, Only the Good Die Young

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Thu Aug 26 2021
5

It's been a while since I've listened to this album. Billy Joel is another artist that I nearly categorically adore. I like every tune on this album, but can understand why other people don't. Still, for me, it's 5 stars!

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Sun May 12 2024
5

Hit after hit!!! Incredible stuff billy

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Sun May 12 2024
5

Thought I was listening to his greatest hits album because every song is a BANGER 5 ⭐️

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Tue Jan 18 2022
2

I respect Billy Joel's songwriting chops. These are incredibly successful songs and have been played on radio a bazillion times, and I know most of this album backwards just from the ubiquitous nature of the thing. But it bores me to tears. Billy Joel is not rock and roll (despite Billy's later protestations); it's much more popular song based in the Broadway tradition. And it is very successful in that mold. But I don't really need it in my life. Sorry.

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Sun Aug 28 2022
2

This album is basically filled with every one of his radio hits save "Piano Man". Overall, was never a Billy Joel fan, and this just reconfirms that. Somewhat of an off-brand Elton John, who I'm also not a fan of.

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Wed Nov 02 2022
2

Wow, all I see are 4 and 5 star ratings for this so I'll probably take flak for this. Someone already stole my line that he's a less interesting and cheesier version of Elton John and I fully concur. There's no doubt that he has a knack for writing catchy pop songs, but the shmaltz factor here is simply too high for me. He somewhat redeems himself with the less commercial songs like the Stranger and Get it right. But he knows his audience and and I guess he hits the nail right on the head with this album that is loaded with bestsellers.

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Tue Dec 20 2022
2

The popular songcraft here is strong but the problem is that it doesn’t serve much of a purpose. If you took Paul McCartney at his schmaltziest, added some overproduced Paul Simon with all the substance trimmed away, and finished with a dash of Elton John glitz, this is what you’d get. He absolutely nailed what he was trying to make, it seems, but it’s all so flavorless I can’t imagine why you’d want to try it. Plus the second half really reveals a core of misogyny that poisons anything decent there.

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Thu Jun 02 2022
1

Billy Joel. The stranger in the bath, the finger in the anus. This man is so addicted to cheese that he goes to bed each night wearing pyjamas made entirely out of dairylea triangles.

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Sat Feb 13 2021
5

Amazing album, one of my personal favorites this past year. Each song is a banger even though they can get a little corny.

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Sun Mar 14 2021
5

O cara é BOM, excelentes música e ótima voz

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Tue Jan 26 2021
5

Joel z lat 70 to moj ulubiony Joel, a wlasnie tym albumem zapewnil sobie sukces jako topowy popularny spiewak lat 80, ale chyba pierwszy raz sluchalem calego albumu od deski do deski, bo poza zaslyszanymi gdzieniedzie kawalkami najczesciej dowiadywalem sie o tworczosci joela z dorobku murzynskich raperow lat 90 i takie zdziwienie, gdy odkrywasz w samplach snoopa czy xzibita kawalki joelowe, nawet nie mowie o genialnych pianinkach ktore potrafi on przemycic w swych aranzacjach, ale u niektorych murzynskich artystow pojawiaja sie nawet doslowne covery jak u brand nubianow czy ATCQ, a to pokazuje jak bardzo influencyjne jego albumiki byly, jak dlaa mnie hajlajtami albumiku otwierajacy moving out oraz vienna, prosto w feelsy, pierwsza piatka z 1001 albumow zaliczona

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Thu Jun 10 2021
5

I don't even have to think about this one. Five stars with a bullet. One of my favorite albums of all time.

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Wed Sep 08 2021
5

incredible showstopping never been done before will make me cry like a baby

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Mon Sep 20 2021
5

I'd forgotten how brilliant this album is. Five absolute belters and the other four are bloody good, too. He said some nasty things about Christie Brinkley, but his music is wonderful.

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Tue Sep 21 2021
5

loved every song in this album. groovy beats let the lyrics stand out. there's a lovely, special energy here

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Thu Sep 30 2021
5

Vraiment un album excellent. Une super belle écoute. Je n'avais jamais entendu cet album et je le regrette. un classique vraiment en plein dans mon syle ! 5* :)

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Fri Oct 01 2021
5

Loved this! Some fantastic songs in there, never listened to a BJ album start to finish. Glad I have. What a great song writer

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Tue Oct 05 2021
5

Not a bad track on this album. Even the less popular/well-known tracks are great.

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Mon Oct 11 2021
5

Had to throw on my vinyl copy for this one. One the best $1 records I ever bought. Hands down my favorite Billy Joel album. Starts strong with Moving Out. Then goes all over the place for the rest of Side 1. Feel like "Just The Way You Are" is a response to 10ccs "I'm Not in Love" but more positive and sincere. "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" is like Showtune-Prog. Wouldn't be surprised if an actual full blown Broadway musical is made out of this song someday. Then onto Side 2, beginning with my all time favorite Billy Joel track, "Vienna." Feel like you gotta have some mileage behind you to appreciate that tune to it's fullest, but it's really a message for the young - so listen up kiddos! This ain't cheese, it's a rich and complex flavor best appreciated by a refined palette.

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Tue Oct 26 2021
5

Cool album, interesting choice of songs to put under a unified group.

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Fri Oct 29 2021
5

I have loved this album for years. Joel’s voice, his melodies. Fantastic.

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Wed Nov 10 2021
5

One of my favorite albums ever, I know the lyrics to nearly every song. New discovery: Everyone Has a Dream

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Thu Nov 11 2021
5

I didn't know that I knew a good chunk of the album already, it was a good listen, but I won't come back to it any time soon.

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Thu Nov 11 2021
5

This is a classic. Doesen't even have pianoman, uptown girl or we didn't start the fire, but the album just flows so well. Wait I know "Just the Way You Are" so well, haha. I forgot tha name. I love this. Yeah the lyrics are not the best, but damn are the tunes catchy! Very easily digestible, and that is not always a bad thing. 5

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Tue Nov 16 2021
5

Responses to music are so subjective. This reminds me of my father, so it’s an automatic 5 stars.

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Wed Dec 01 2021
5

I'd consider this the quintessential Billy Joel album

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Mon Dec 06 2021
5

Listened to Billy Joel's Greatest Hits endlessly on car trips as a kid so I'm familiar with 90% of these songs but whenever one comes on I've never heard I'm always like "wtf is this?"

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Mon Jan 03 2022
5

genieten, ga ik nog vaak luisteren. de cover alleen als is mooi

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Mon Jan 03 2022
5

Every song is a classic on here, can't hate on Billy Joel

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Fri Jan 07 2022
5

Masterful. Gorgeous songwriting. A true classic. So many wonderful tracks that it's nearly impossible to pick a fave. But...if I had to choose...it would be either "The Stranger" or "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant".

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Mon Jan 10 2022
5

Dit album is een feest der herkenning. Volgens mij had ik vroeger een kopie op cassettebandje. Billy Joel is een van mijn favoriete artiesten, maar heb dit album zelf al heeeeel lang niet meer geluisterd. Verbaasd me hoeveel leuke nummers er eigenlijk staan! ****** Helaas zijn er maar 5 sterren uit te delen :-)

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Sun Jan 16 2022
5

Take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while

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Mon Jan 17 2022
5

My first 8 track. Great songs!

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Tue Jan 18 2022
5

jos ugodinije i jos relaxije, 5

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Mon Feb 07 2022
5

So many tunes I just absolutely love!

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Mon Feb 21 2022
5

Such a delightful album with good variation in the tunes, beautiful vocals, fun songs. Songs like Scenes from an Italian Restaurant has nice progressions and changes in tune combined with nice saxophone! And Billy's songs are good at brining my friends together which adds to the Joy. I can only ask: when will you realize, Billy waits for you?

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Mon Feb 28 2022
5

This album is great, especially Scenes from an Italian Restaurant. One of Billy Joel’s best.

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Wed Mar 09 2022
5

i love elton john <333 not to be basic but vienna <3333333 also scenes from an italian restaurant is literally piano man...still hits tho!!!!

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Tue Mar 15 2022
5

Fantastic album! Don’t know what else to say about it. I listened to this album already many times and it’s still great! Favourite songs: - Scenes from a Italian restaurant - Vienna - She’s always a woman

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