Personnel includes: Billy Joel (vocals, piano); Ray Charles (vocals); Richard Joo (piano); Liberty DeVito (drums).
Producers include: Michael Stewart, Billy Joel, Phil Ramone, Mick Jones, Steven Epstein.
Compilation producers: Greg Linn, Mark Feldman.
Recorded between 1973 and 2001.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
Personnel: Billy Joel (vocals, harmonica, piano, keyboards); Richard Huyghe (piano).
Photographers: Patrick Demarchelier; Art Maillet.
At the close of the 20th Century, it became apparent that Billy Joel was one of the premier pop craftsmen of the post-Beatles era. This generous two-disc compilation neatly makes a case for Joel's reign at the top of the musical heap by chronicling nearly 20 years of hits. Joel's melodic gift and lyrical acumen are amply displayed as THE ESSENTIAL BILLY JOEL moves from the introspective "Piano Man" to the sardonic, self-parodic "The Entertainer," from the Springsteen-like rocker "Only the Good Die Young" to the McCartneyesque "Dont Ask Me Why." As Joel's career progressed, his work became increasingly occupied with socio-political issues, as evidenced by disc two's "We Didn't Start the Fire" and "The Downeaster 'Alexa.'" By the end of the '90s, Joel decided to abandon pop in favor of classically inspired instrumental music, and this chronological collection fittingly ends with some of the first fruits of that notion, indicating that even after so many years in the public eye, Joel still had plenty to say, whether he used words or not.