The Stranger (album)

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The Stranger
Studio album by Billy Joel
Released September 29, 1977
Recorded A&R Recording, Inc., 799 Seventh Avenue, New York City, July–August 1977
Genre Soft rock, pop rock, piano rock[1]
Length 42:13
Label Family Productions/Columbia
Producer Phil Ramone
Billy Joel chronology
Turnstiles
(1976)
The Stranger
(1977)
52nd Street
(1978)
Singles from The Stranger
  1. "Just the Way You Are"
    Released: September 1977
  2. "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)"
    Released: November 1, 1977
  3. "Only the Good Die Young"
    Released: 1977
  4. "She's Always a Woman"/"Vienna"
    Released: 1977
  5. "The Stranger"
    Released: May 21, 1978 (Japan only)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[2]
Robert Christgau (B-)[3]
NeuFutur 4/5 stars (Deluxe Edition)[4]
PopMatters 6/10 stars (Deluxe Edition)[5]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars (Deluxe Edition) [6]
Slant Magazine 4/5 stars[7]
Uncut 4/5 stars[8]
Billy Joel's "Just The Way You Are" from The Stranger

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The Stranger is the fifth studio album by American singer-songwriter Billy Joel, released on September 29, 1977. While his four previous albums had been moderately successful, The Stranger became Joel's true critical and commercial breakthrough, spending six weeks at #2 on the U.S. album charts. Considered his magnum opus, it remains his best-selling non-compilation album to date, and was ranked number 70 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[9]

Production[edit]

The Stranger contains nine songs. Songwriting on "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)," "She's Always a Woman," "Just the Way You Are," "Everybody Has a Dream," and "Only the Good Die Young" was completed before recording, while "Vienna," "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant," "The Stranger," and "Get It Right the First Time," which originated as short tunes or musical fragments, were completed in the studio. Lyrically, the album's approach is decidedly narrative; each song tells a story. The seven-and-a-half-minute epic "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" began as a shorter song entitled "The Ballad of Brenda and Eddie," which became the third section of "Italian Restaurant." While composing "The Stranger," Joel whistled the track's signature theme for producer Phil Ramone, claiming that he (Joel) needed to find an instrument to play it. Ramone replied: "No, you don't. That's 'The Stranger,' the whistling."[citation needed]

Four singles from the LP charted on the Billboard Hot 100 in the following order: "Just the Way You Are" (#3), "Movin' Out" (#17), "Only the Good Die Young" (#24), and "She's Always a Woman" (#17). Many of its songs are now staples on classic rock and adult contemporary FM radio stations.

Reception[edit]

Much of the album's success is attributed to Joel's collaboration with producer Phil Ramone, whose innovative production methods complemented the album's listing; this fruitful partnership would continue for a decade. Singles released from the album include "Just the Way You Are" (which won the Grammy for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year), the acoustic ballad "She's Always A Woman," the mildly controversial "Only the Good Die Young," and "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)," which later lent its title to Movin' Out, an acclaimed hit Broadway musical based on Billy Joel's work. This album overtook Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water to become the best-selling album on the Columbia Records imprint at the time.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Billy Joel.

Side 1
  1. "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" – 3:30
  2. "The Stranger" – 5:10
  3. "Just the Way You Are" – 4:52
  4. "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" – 7:37
Side 2
  1. "Vienna" – 3:34
  2. "Only the Good Die Young" – 3:55
  3. "She's Always a Woman" – 3:21
  4. "Get It Right the First Time" – 3:57
  5. "Everybody Has a Dream / The Stranger (Reprise)" – 6:38

songs © 1977 except "Everybody Has a Dream" © 1971

30th Anniversary Edition[edit]

In July 2008, a special 30th Anniversary Edition of The Stranger was released. It contains two special editions: a 2 CD Legacy Edition, and a Deluxe Limited Edition (which includes two CDs and a bonus DVD). The limited deluxe edition of The Stranger includes a CD of the original album in its entirety (remastered by producer Phil Ramone), a CD of a previously unreleased concert featuring Billy and his band, Live At Carnegie Hall 1977, recorded at the historic Manhattan venue on June 3, 1977, one month before the sessions for The Stranger album; a DVD showcasing two live promotional videos from The Stranger; and Joel's performance on the BBC's Old Grey Whistle Test, a seldom-seen sixty minute set from 1978 that has aired only once on the UK's BBC2. Also included in this box set is a facsimile poster from the 1977 Carnegie Hall concert, and a facsimile notebook that contains copies of rough draft lyrics for many of the songs that appeared on The Stranger.

Live at Carnegie Hall, June 3, 1977 CD
  1. "Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)" - 5:11
  2. "Prelude/Angry Young Man" - 6:05
  3. "New York State of Mind" - 8:20
  4. "Just the Way You Are" - 4:56
  5. "She's Got a Way" - 3:32
  6. "The Entertainer" - 6:09
  7. "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" - 7:35
  8. "Band Introductions" - 2:02
  9. "Captain Jack" - 6:51
  10. "I've Loved These Days" - 4:29
  11. "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" - 6:45
  12. "Souvenir" - 2:09
Bonus DVD
  • Live Promotional Videos, 1977
  1. "The Stranger"
  2. "Just the Way You Are"
  • The Old Grey Whistle Test on BBC 1 (First transmitted 14 March 1978)
  1. "Intro"
  2. "Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)"
  3. "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)"
  4. "New York State of Mind"
  5. "The Entertainer"
  6. "She's Always a Woman"
  7. "Root Beer Rag"
  8. "Just the Way You Are"
  9. "Only the Good Die Young"
  10. "Souvenir"
  11. "Ain't No Crime"
  • 30 Minute Making of The Stranger Documentary
Best Buy exclusive bonus CD (Live at Nassau Coliseum 12/77)

(packaged with both the 2CD Legacy and 2CD/1DVD 30th Anniversary Edition)

  1. "Just the Way You Are"
  2. "Vienna"
  3. "The Ballad of Billy the Kid"
  4. "Get It Right the First Time"
  5. "Summer, Highland Falls"
Target exclusive bonus DVD

(packaged with the 2CD Legacy Edition)

  1. "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" (Live from Long Island)
  2. "The Stranger" (Live from Long Island)
  3. "Only the Good Die Young" (Live from Leningrad)
  4. "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" (Live from Yankee Stadium)
  5. "Piano Man" (Live from The River of Dreams Tour)
Online store bonus tracks
  1. "Prelude/Angry Young Man" (Live Version) (Version 2) (iTunes Album Only Exclusive Track) - 5:03
  2. "She's Got a Way" (Live Version) (Version 2) - (AmazonMP3 Exclusive Track) 3:42

Personnel[edit]

Live at Carnegie Hall June 3, 1977

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[23] 5× Platinum 500,000^
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[24] Platinum 15,000*
Japan (RIAJ)[25] Gold 377,000[26][19]
New Zealand (RMNZ)[27] Platinum 15,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[28] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[29] Diamond 10,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]

Awards[edit]

Grammy Awards

Year Winner Category
1978 Just the Way You Are Record of the Year
1978 Just the Way You Are Song of the Year

Issues[edit]

Media Release Date Publisher Catalog Number
Vinyl LP 09/1977 Columbia JC 34987
Vinyl LP

Australian release

1977 Columbia

(CBS Inc.)

SBP 237057
CD 1st Issue Japan 06/03/1982 CBS/Sony 35-DP-2
2CD/DVD 30th Anniversary Edition 07/08/08 Columbia/Legacy 88697 30801 2
Cassette 1990 Columbia JCT 34987
CD 1990 Columbia CK-34987
CD Remastered 10/20/1998 Columbia CK 69384
Super Audio CD 07/31/2001 Sony CS 69384
2CD Legacy Edition 07/08/08 Columbia/Legacy 88697 22581 2
2CD/DVD 30th Anniversary Edition 07/08/08 Columbia/Legacy 88697 30801 2
SACD Remastered 2012 Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab UDSACD 2089

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rym". Rateyourmusic.com. Retrieved 2012-12-11. 
  2. ^ The Stranger (album) at AllMusic
  3. ^ "CG: Billy Joel". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  4. ^ "Billy Joel â€" The Stranger Legacy Edition (CD) |". Neufutur.com. 2008-09-19. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  5. ^ Useted, Tom (24 July 2008). "Billy Joel: The Stranger". PopMatters. 
  6. ^ Rolling Stone
  7. ^ Slant
  8. ^ Luke Torn Uncut magazine, September 2008
  9. ^ Rolling Stone
  10. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  11. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 29, No. 2, April 08 1978". RPM. 1978-04-08. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  12. ^ "dutchcharts.nl Billy Joel - The Stranger". Hung Medien, dutchcharts.nl (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  13. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste" (in French). infodisc.fr. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  14. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia - Gli album più venduti del 1978" (in Italian). Hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  15. ^ "東方神起がビリー・ジョエル以来31年ぶり快挙、シングル・アルバム同時TOP3入り" [Tohoshinki Set the Record For The First Time in 31 Years: Reaching the Top-3 on Both of the Singles and Albums Chart Since Billy Joel] (in Japanese). Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  16. ^ "Charts.org.nz - Billy Joel - The Stranger". Hung Medien, charts.org.nz. Recording Industry Association of New Zea Land. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  17. ^ "Billy Joel > Artist > Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  18. ^ "allmusic ((( The Stranger > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-03-19. 
  19. ^ a b "ビリー・ジョエル-リリース-ORICON STYLE-ミュージック" [Highest position and charting weeks for The Stranger (30th Anniversary Edition) by Billy Joel]. oricon.co.jp (in Japanese). Oricon Style. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  20. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1978". RPM. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  21. ^ "1978年アルバム年間ヒットチャート" [Japanese Year-End Albums Chart 1978] (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  22. ^ "Top Pop Albums of 1978". billboard.biz. Retrieved 2011-05-08. 
  23. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Billy Joel – The Stranger". Music Canada. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  24. ^ "IFPIHK Platinum Disc Award − 1981". IFPI Hong Kong. 
  25. ^ ""RIAJ > The Record > May 1995 > Page 5 > Certified Awards (March 1995)"". Recording Industry Association of Japan (in Japanese). Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  26. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970-2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9. 
  27. ^ THE FIELD id (chart number) MUST BE PROVIDED for NEW ZEALAND CERTIFICATION.
  28. ^ "British album certifications – Billy Joel – The Stranger". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 25 July 2012.  Enter The Stranger in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  29. ^ "American album certifications – Billy Joel – The Stranger". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 25 July 2012.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]