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4.7 out of 5 stars275
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 30 August 2006
When Billy Joel belatedly hit the big time in the mid 1970s it was "Piano Man" that gave him the break. It's a great song both lyrically and musically, and stands out even in the context of this collection of undoubted quality, and deserves to be the title song of such a compilation.

So why, oh why, then, did some idiot see fit to include only a shortened version of this, his first and arguably finest hit? Why edit out the bluesey piano introduction, and then cut from the first half of verse two straight into the second half of verse three, losing some poignant and descriptive lyrics in doing so? Surely if they were pushed for space on the CD they could have economised elsewhere, rather than devalue such a great favourite. Only four stars for that reason, I'm afraid.
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As somebody who has all of Billy Joel's studio albums, my opinion is that a one-CD 'very best of' just doesn't have the space to deliver what it promises and, indeed, with key tracks in Billy's career missing, this falls short as a satisfying overview of the piano man's career. 'Big Shot', 'Allentown' and 'The Longest Time' are just three examples of incredible tracks which any self-respecting Billy Joel collection shouldn't omit but this one, unfortunately, does. Of course, that just scratches the surface - some of Billy's best compositions are relatively unknown album tracks - but even with realistic expectations of what a good compilation should include, this album doesn't hit the mark.

To be completely fair, I should tell anyone who has a passing interest in Billy Joel's music and is thinking about buying this CD that you probably wouldn't be disappointed with the content. Most of the huge hits are here including the majestic, insanely catchy 'Uptown Girl', his breakthrough hit 'Piano Man', the gospel-tinted 'River Of Dreams', the hugely successful modern-history-as-a-list 'We Didn't Start The Fire', the achingly beautiful ballads, 'She's Got A Way', 'Honesty', 'Just The Way You Are', plus too many more to mention - the track listing is above, so - to avoid repetition - I'll just say that it's all good... extremely good. To its credit, it also includes 'Scenes From An Italian Restaurant', one of Mr. Joel's finest moments.

The music contained within this disc is all of '5 star' quality and anyone listening to this material for the first time is likely to be completely blown away by it, but the questionable track listing - given the material to choose from - loses it that 'five star' rating. Simply put, this is not the very best of Billy Joel. For those both new to the man and looking for a collection only, I'd recommend the 2CD 'The Essential Billy Joel' (Columbia) which, for a similar amount of money, gives a better overview of the man's work and is far more extensive. Better still, I would suggest that you invest in some of his studio albums (Turnstiles, The Stranger, 52nd Street, Glass Houses, The Nylon Curtain, An Innocent Man, Storm Front and River Of Dreams are all excellent) which, once you listen to a 'best of', you'll probably end up doing anyway, so why not skip the middleman?
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on 11 January 2005
This is a very disappointing compilation of Billy Joel's career because it doesn't really represent the geneius of the man. sure 'Uptown Girl" "Piano Man" and all those "Hits" are here but not all of them and not all of Billy's best songs which featured on Greatest Hits Volumes 1,2 and 3 are here. "Scenes from an italian Restaurant" is the best of Billy's song because of it's intelligent musical variation and it's not here. In fact I'll make a list of all the songs that should be here but aren't:
I go to extremes; Big shot; You may be right;Allentown;Pressure;The longest time; Scenes from an italian restaurant; Captain Jack; Lullabye (Goodnight my angel); A Matter of trust; This is the time; The Downeaster "Alexa"
Now these are all well known songs and all have been featured on other Billy Joel compilation albums but aren't here.
On a positive note the song "Scandanavian Skies" from 1982's 'Nylon Curtain" album makes it's debut on a Billy Joel compilation album, an underated Joel gem.
The other thing that I don't like about this album is that there are too many edited versions of Joel songs which don't do any justice whatsover to Joel's reputation, which in critics eyes , unfortunately wasn't all that good. The true musical journey of Billy Joel is either through his original albums (cronologically) or through Greatest hits Volumes 1 and 2 , Greatest Hits Volume 3 , Billy Joel- the ultimate collection, The essential Billy Joel or 2000 Years- The millenium Concert. That will give you the real Billy Joel experience. This one- maybe a collector's item or an addition to your kareoke collection.
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on 16 December 2004
Don't be fooled, this is by no means the best of Billy Joel. It's a collection of the songs people know him best by, but it can only ever be an entry into Billy Joel's music. His albums, completely different each one, are entire volumes of work, and to divide them into this 'best of' isn't doing Joel justice. Now that he's stopped recording/touring, he's obviously not aware what Sony are shoving out, which is a shame.
However, there are fantastic songs here. Piano Man is criminally cut short, arguably Joel's best work, but aside from that there are some genuinely brilliant songs here. His best work, "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" is omitted, but it is still a good album. For Billy Joel fans, it's a "been here, done that". For newbies, this is what real music is. And I'm only 18. Check out his Millenium Concert, or preferably copies of his '82 Nassau Coliseum show which is floating around the internet. The best concert ever.
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on 2 March 2006
However, for all you fans who don't want to burst the bank, this is a nice way of getting all his major UK hit's for a good price.
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on 19 September 2010
Recommended listening although there are one or two of his more famous tracks that you would have expected to be on this cd for it to meet the 'very best of' description!
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on 17 July 2008
Piano Man The Very Best of Billy Joel could only be regarded as the very best by customers who are pleased that the title track has been butchered and a great chunk of its middle removed. The rest of us might feel Sony BMG Music Entertainment should be ashamed of a shabby deception. If it's legal to sell only part of a song without making it plain that's what you're doing, then it shouldn't be. Prospective buyers who want to hear Joel sing about the real-estate novelist and Davy who's still in the Navy should check out a different compilation, and read the jacket to make sure the song lasts for 5 ½ minutes, not 4 ½.
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on 4 July 2010
Well what a fantastic service and a cheap price,Billy joel is a star across the generations and this cd is a fantastic mix of old and new which is so well put together it gels perfectly,if you like real music a fantastic voice and a great performer buy this cd.
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on 10 March 2012
I bought this for one track - 'We did'nt start the fire' which is arguably one of the cleverest and catchiest pop songs ever written. Having never really been into Billy Joel over the years, this was the song that was a wake up call - as this whole CD is great and showcases a talent that if not fully experienced before , will make you wish you had!
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on 25 May 2011
This is the perfect album if you want to sing along to all the best of Billy Joel. I bought it when I heard that advert with someone else singing "She's Always a Woman" and (sorry whoever sings that!) it made me want to hear Billy Joel's original version. It doesn't disappoint. Great value great easy listening album. Enjoy.
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