This edition of PIANO MAN is an Enhanced CD containing both a full audio program as well as a video clip for the song "Piano Man."
Personnel: Billy Joel (vocals, harmonica, keyboards); Billy Joel; Laura Creamer, Mark Creamer (vocals, background vocals); Susan Steward (vocals); Wilton Felder (keyboards, bass instrument); Emory Gordy (bass instrument); Susan Stewart (background vocals); Dean Parks, Larry Carlton, Richard Bennett (guitar); Eric Weissberg, Fred Heilbrun (banjo); Billy Armstrong (violin); Michael Omartian (accordion); Ron Tutt, Rhys Clark (drums).
Audio Remasterer: Ted Jensen.
Arranger: Michael Omartian.
The title track from Billy Joel's major-label debut, 1973's PIANO MAN, became a smash hit, and put the singer-songwriter/piano player on the musical map for good. A story-song, the verses consist of character sketches given by the resident musician at a bar-lounge, and these build toward a sweeping, melodically infectious chorus and a melancholic, carnivalesque refrain. The tune demonstrates Joel's flair for narrative and lyrical detail, as well as his unmistakable knack for a catchy hook - qualities that would be the bedrock of his success through the 1970s and '80s.
Joel was still developing his trademark style here, and while the rest of the album doesn't quite measure up to the strength of "Piano Man," it fits quite neatly into the rubric of the one-man folk-rock artists of the era (namely Elton John, but also acoustic guitar-wielding troubadours like Harry Chapin). Still, there is evidence of Joel's signature tendencies throughout, like the tender love ballad "You're My Home" and the closer, "Captain Jack," a character-heavy story-song on the order of the title song. On the whole, PIANO MAN is an important step in Joel's development, and contains the musical and lyrical seeds that would sprout to full flower on albums like THE STRANGER, and subsequently catapult the artist to singer-songwriter stardom.