Greatest Hits (Billy Joel albums)

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Billy Joel's Greatest Hits is a collection released in two sets, 12 years apart. The first set, consisting of two discs, titled Volume I and Volume II, was released in 1985. The second, single disc titled Volume III was released in 1997. "You're Only Human (Second Wind)" and "The Night Is Still Young" were new songs and, at the time, only available on this compilation. All songs but the last three on Volume III, "To Make You Feel My Love", "Hey Girl" and "Light as the Breeze" were written by Joel. The other songs appear mostly in order of their release dates and generally represent Joel's most successful singles.

Greatest Hits – Volume I & Volume II[edit]

Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II
Billyjoelgreatesthits.jpg
Greatest hits album by Billy Joel
Released September 2, 1985[1]
Recorded 1973–1985
Genre Rock
Length 1:53:45 (CD)
Label Family Productions/Columbia
Producer Michael Stewart, Billy Joel, Phil Ramone
Billy Joel chronology
An Innocent Man
(1983)
Greatest Hits, Vols. 1 & 2
(1985)
The Bridge
(1986)
Singles from Greatest Hits - Volume I & II
  1. "You're Only Human (Second Wind)"
    Released: 1985
  2. "The Night Is Still Young"
    Released: 1985
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[2]
Rolling Stone Album Guide, 3rd Edition 4/5 stars[citation needed]

Greatest Hits – Volume I & Volume II has been certified double diamond by the RIAA, selling over 11.5 million copies (23 million units) and is tied with Pink Floyd's The Wall and Led Zeppelin's Led Zeppelin IV for third most certified album of all time in the U.S.[3]

The album includes hits from 1973 to 1985 in chronological order with one exception. Some pressings do not include "Honesty", and instead include "Don't Ask Me Why".[4] The compilation includes two previously unreleased tracks, "You're Only Human (Second Wind)" and "The Night Is Still Young". These two songs were also available as singles and, in 1989, on the 5-disc box set Souvenir: The Ultimate Collection which included the entire Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II (with "Honesty").[5] "You're Only Human (Second Wind)" later featured on the compilation The Ultimate Collection released in 2000, and on disc 15, Collected Additional Masters, of The Complete Albums Collection box set, released in 2011. "The Night Is Still Young" was also included on that same disc 15. The sax solo on "New York State of Mind" was re-recorded by Phil Woods for the release of Greatest Hits. It replaced Richie Cannata’s original solo, recorded in 1976 for the album Turnstiles.[6]

Track listing[edit]

Double LP/Double cassette[edit]

Some original pressings omit "Don't Ask Me Why" and place "Honesty" after "Big Shot," pushing "You May Be Right" to the beginning of Side C.[7]

Double CD release[edit]

Disc one
No. Title Original album Length
1. "Piano Man"   Piano Man, 5:36
2. "Captain Jack"   Piano Man 7:15
3. "The Entertainer"   Streetlife Serenade, 3:38
4. "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" (Live edited version) Songs in the Attic; originally from Turnstiles 3:54
5. "New York State of Mind"   Turnstiles 6:02
6. "The Stranger"   The Stranger 5:07
7. "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant"   The Stranger 7:33
8. "Just the Way You Are" (Radio edit) The Stranger 3:36
9. "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)"   The Stranger 3:36
10. "Only the Good Die Young"   The Stranger 3:53
11. "She's Always a Woman"   The Stranger 3:17
Total length:
55:20
Disc two
No. Title Year Length
1. "My Life" (Radio edit) 1978 3:51
2. "Big Shot" (Radio edit) 1978 3:43
3. "Honesty" (on original release, instead of "Don't Ask Me Why") 1978 3:51
4. "You May Be Right"   1980 4:09
5. "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me"   1980 2:54
6. "Don't Ask Me Why" (on second edition, instead of "Honesty") 1980 2:57
7. "She's Got a Way" (Live version) 1971, 1981 3:00
8. "Pressure" (Radio edit) 1982 3:15
9. "Allentown"   1982 3:48
10. "Goodnight Saigon"   1982 7:00
11. "Tell Her About It" (Radio edit) 1983 3:35
12. "Uptown Girl"   1983 3:15
13. "The Longest Time"   1983 3:36
14. "You're Only Human (Second Wind)"   1985 4:48
15. "The Night Is Still Young"   1985 5:28
Total length:
58:25

There are three versions of the CD available, the initial 1985 release has "Honesty" as the third track on disc 2, second pressings onward had "Don't Ask Me Why" as the third track and the 1998 remaster has "Don't Ask Me Why" as the fifth track on disc 2. However, the disc with "Honesty" does not have "Don't Ask Me Why" and vice versa.[8]

On the original 1985 releases, five songs are shorter than their original versions: "Just the Way You Are" is only 3:34 long (1½ minute shorter), verse 2 is totally omitted (from “Don’t go trying some new fashion” to “ I want you just the way you are”) and the sax solo at the end fades early; "My Life" is 3:50 long (nearly 1 minute shorter), the intro is slightly shorter with piano notes at 0:25 omitted (before the first words), same notes are omitted between verses 1 and 2, then again after “You wake up with yourself”, piano passage also missing after “But not on my time” and the piano notes omitted several times at the end; "Big Shot" is 3:43 long (the ending with the “big shot… wow” is shortened by ½ minute approx.); "Pressure" is only 3:13 long (1½ min shorter) with more than a verse omitted (from “I'll tell you what it means” to “I read it too, what does it mean?”); "Tell Her About It" is 3:33 long (the end fades approx. 20 seconds sooner, leaving some wording out).[6]

In 1998, the two CD set was digitally remastered and packaged with two bonus videos ("You're Only Human (Second Wind)" and "The Night Is Still Young") on disc 1. All of the songs that were edited in the 1985 package ("Pressure", "My Life", "Big Shot", "Just the Way You Are" and "Tell Her About It") were restored to their original album lengths. Also, the live version of "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" was removed and replaced with the studio version from Joel's 1976 album Turnstiles.

Some limited editions of a 3 disc-compilation The Greatest Hits Collection, Volumes I, II & III were issued in 1998, to accompany the world tour.[6]

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[9] 3× Platinum 210,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[10] Gold 25,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[11] 2× Platinum 200,000^
France (SNEP)[12] 2× Gold 200,000[13]
Japan (Oricon Charts)[14] 3× Platinum + 1× Gold 700,000[15]
Netherlands (NVPI)[16] Platinum 100,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[17] Platinum 15,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[18] Platinum 50,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[19] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[20] 23× Platinum 11,500,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Greatest Hits Volume III[edit]

Greatest Hits Volume III
Greatest Hits 3.jpg
Greatest hits album by Billy Joel
Released August 19, 1997
Recorded 1983–1997
Genre Rock
Length 68:18
Label Columbia
Producer Phil Ramone, Mick Jones, Billy Joel, Danny Kortchmar, Joe Nicolo, David Thoener
Billy Joel chronology
River of Dreams
(1993)
Greatest Hits Volume III
(1997)
2000 Years: The Millennium Concert
(2000)
Singles from Greatest Hits - Volume III
  1. "To Make You Feel My Love"
    Released: 1997
  2. "Hey Girl"
    Released: 1997
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2.5/5 stars[21]

The Greatest Hits Volume III album includes hits from 1983 to 1997. Two previously unreleased studio tracks are included, "To Make You Feel My Love" and "Hey Girl", while the third new track, "Light as the Breeze", was originally recorded for a Leonard Cohen tribute album known as Tower of Song in 1995. All three tracks are newly recorded covers (a rare occurrence in his catalogue).

Chronologically, Greatest Hits Volume III overlaps slightly with Volume II, as the first two tracks, "Keeping the Faith" and "An Innocent Man", first appeared on his album An Innocent Man.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Billy Joel except as noted.

No. Title Original album Length
1. "Keeping the Faith"   An Innocent Man 4:38
2. "An Innocent Man"   An Innocent Man 5:19
3. "A Matter of Trust"   The Bridge, 1986 4:12
4. "Baby Grand" (Duet with Ray Charles) The Bridge 4:05
5. "This Is the Time"   The Bridge 5:00
6. "Leningrad"   Storm Front, 1989 4:04
7. "We Didn't Start the Fire"   Storm Front 4:48
8. "I Go to Extremes"   Storm Front 4:24
9. "And So It Goes"   Storm Front 3:38
10. "The Downeaster 'Alexa'"   Storm Front 3:44
11. "Shameless"   Storm Front 4:27
12. "All About Soul" (Remix) Exclusive to the "All About Soul" single, 1993; originally from River of Dreams, 1993 6:01
13. "Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)"   River of Dreams 3:35
14. "The River of Dreams"   River of Dreams 4:11
15. "To Make You Feel My Love" (Bob Dylan) Previously unissued, 1997 3:53
16. "Hey Girl" (Gerry Goffin, Carole King) Previously unissued 3:57
17. "Light as the Breeze" (Leonard Cohen) Tower of Song, 1995 6:12

Personnel[edit]

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[22] Gold 35,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[11] Gold 50,000^
Japan (Oricon Charts)[14] Gold 100,000[15]
United Kingdom (BPI)[19] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[20] Platinum 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

The Complete Hits Collection: 1973–1997[edit]

The Complete Hits Collection: 1973–1997
Billy Joel - The Complete Hits Collection.jpg
Live album by Billy Joel
Released October 13, 1997
Recorded 1997
Genre Rock, interview
Length 1:18:03
Label Columbia
Producer Billy Joel

On October 14, 1997, a boxed set was released that included all three Greatest Hits volumes as well as a fourth disc (entitled An Evening of Questions & Answers... & A Little Music) that contains live tracks and a Q&A with Joel. Originally available in a long box format, the box set is also available in a compact box format.

Track listing[edit]

An Evening of Questions & Answers... & A Little Music
No. Title Length
1. "Billy Joel Spoken Intro/Music Concepts" (Live and mostly spoken) 10:18
2. "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" (Unreleased live version) 7:50
3. "Beatles Influence" (Live and mostly spoken) 5:18
4. "A Hard Day's Night" (Unreleased live version) 2:53
5. "Why Vienna?" (Live and mostly spoken) 9:28
6. "Vienna" (Unreleased live version) 3:41
7. "History Through the Music" (Live and mostly spoken) 4:31
8. "We Didn't Start the Fire" (Unreleased live version) 5:13
9. "Music Source" (Live and mostly spoken) 9:14
10. "The River of Dreams" (Unreleased original studio recording) 5:20
11. "Piano Bar" (Live and mostly spoken) 7:46
12. "Piano Man" (Unreleased live version) 6:31
Total length:
1:18:03

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United States (RIAA)[20] Platinum 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II - Billy Joel Official Site". Billy Joel Official Site. 
  2. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Greatest Hits, Vols. 1-2 (1973-1985)". AllMusic. 
  3. ^ "RIAA List of Best Selling Albums"
  4. ^ Sources for the Dutch and Japanese editions of Greatest Hits Volume 2:
    • Greatest Hits Volume 2 (Dutch Edition). Billy Joel. Columbia Records. 1985. 
    • Greatest Hits Volume 2 (Japanese Edition). Billy Joel. Columbia Records. 1985. 
    • Greatest Hits Volume 2 (South Korean Edition). Billy Joel. Columbia Records. 1985. 
  5. ^ Souvenir: The Ultimate Collection
  6. ^ a b c "52nd Street Serenade ♪♪". 
  7. ^ "Billy Joel - Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II". Discogs. 
  8. ^ "Billy Joel - Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II". Discogs. 
  9. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1992 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. 
  10. ^ "Austrian album certifications – Billy Joel – Greatest Hits" (in German). IFPI Austria. Retrieved 25 July 2012.  Enter Billy Joel in the field Interpret. Enter Greatest Hits in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen
  11. ^ a b "Canadian album certifications – Billy Joel – Greatest Hits". Music Canada. 
  12. ^ "French album certifications – Billy Joel – 52nd Street" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. 
  13. ^ "Les Albums Or". infodisc.fr. SNEP. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  14. ^ a b UNSUPPORTED OR EMPTY REGION: Japan (Oricon Charts).
  15. ^ a b Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970-2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9. 
  16. ^ "Dutch certifications" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. 
  17. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – Billy Joel – Greatest Hits". Recorded Music NZ. 
  18. ^ "Norwegian album certifications – Billy Joel – Greatest Hits" (in Norwegian). IFPI Norway. 
  19. ^ a b "British album certifications – Billy Joel – Greatest Hits". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Greatest Hits in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "United_KingdomBilly_JoelGreatest_HitsalbumCertRef" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  20. ^ a b c "American album certifications – Billy Joel – Greatest Hits". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  21. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Greatest Hits, Vol. 3". AllMusic. 
  22. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1997 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 25 July 2012.