Top Artists – Billy Joel

Billy Joel – 52nd Street

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  • With a Triple Plus (A+++) Shootout Winning side one and a Double Plus (A++) side two, this copy had some of the best sound we have ever heard on this, Billy Joel’s best sounding album
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more space, richness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
  • 4 stars on Allmusic, Grammy award for Album of the Year, and Billy Joel’s best batch of songs, even better than The Stranger
  • “…he dazzles with his melodic skills and his enthusiastic performances… not only… one of the biggest-selling artists of his era, but one of the most enjoyable mainstream hitmakers”

In our opinion this is the Best Sounding album Billy Joel ever made, and when you hear these sides you’ll understand why.

We heard some amazing sound coming from the grooves of 52nd Street, but let’s give credit where credit is due — the recording and mastering engineers involved with this album. Jim Boyer and Ted Jensen can both take great pride in the SUPERB work they have done here. (more…)

Billy Joel – The Nylon Curtain

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  • With two outstanding Double Plus (A++) sides, this pressing of Joel’s 1982 release is excellent from top to bottom  
  • The sound is tonally correct, open and spacious with plenty of hard-rockin’ energy for the more uptempo tracks
  • Allentown, Pressure, Goodnight Saigon, Laura, She’s Right On Time – some of Joel’s biggest hits are here
  • “Since this was an album about Baby Boomers, he chose to base his music almost entirely on the Beatles, the pivotal rock band for his generation. Joel is naturally inclined to write big melodies like McCartney, but he idolizes Lennon, which makes The Nylon Curtain a fascinating cross between ear candy and social commentary. ” – Allmusic

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Billy Joel / 52nd Street – Listening Track by Track

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We heard some amazing sound coming from the grooves of 52nd Street, but let’s give credit where credit is due — the recording and mastering engineers involved with this album. Jim Boyer and Ted Jensen can both take great pride in the SUPERB work they have done here.

Side One

The first two tracks on side one really tell you everything you need to know about the sound of the side. It’s all about balance.

Big Shot

Big Shot is a big, balls-out rock song that packs a lot of punch. Typically the problem you run into is compression. When you get too much compression, the top end becomes pinched and shrill. You can hear this on Billy Joel’s vocals in the verses and in the guitar solo during the outro. Most copies make those squealing guitar notes rip your head off. The best copies give you a full-bodied Billy Joel; if he doesn’t sound right, what’s the point? Next!

Also, listen to the cymbal crashes throughout the song. They should really sound like cymbals and not like someone making explosion noises through a walkie-talkie. (Believe me, this analogy hurts me too, but they can really sound god-awful on some pressings.) (more…)

Billy Joel – An Innocent Man – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

On many pressings, the vocals can get hard and harsh on the uptempo tracks (“Uptown Girl” is a notable offender, and never sounds quite as good as the rest of the album), but this copy manages to fix that problem (mostly) without sacrificing transparency or top end. 

Both of these sides easily defeated all comers in our shootout. They have the huge soundstage and startlingly clarity and immediacy that characterizes this album, but they also add an ingredient missing from most we heard — a full, rich, musical midrange! On many pressings, the vocals can get hard and harsh on the uptempo tracks (“Uptown Girl” is a notable offender, and never sounds QUITE as good as the rest of the album), but this copy manages to fix that problem with no sacrifice in transparency or top end. They just don’t get any better than this one, folks. (more…)

Billy Joel – Glass Houses – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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Glass Houses

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

A truly stunning copy of one of Billy Joel’s best-loved albums! We recently finished a massive shootout for Billy Joel’s hard-rockin 1980 release and most copies were pretty dreadful. Thankfully for us (and the Billy Joel fans out there) we managed to find a few copies that really work! This one absolutely nails it — they just don’t get much better than this, folks. 

Most of the copies we’re played were pinched in the midrange, which gave a hard, unpleasant copy to the vocals. Many pressings lack the kind of top end extension that helps the music come out of the speakers and gives it the energy it needs to rock. And make no mistake — this album NEEDS to rock for these songs to work. This is probably the most pure rock and roll album Billy Joel ever put out, and it’s a shame to hear these songs fall flat when they run into the problems of the typical pressing. The copies that keep you engaged are the Hot Stampers, plain and simple. Unfortunately, most copies won’t get you there.

If you’ve enjoyed a 52nd Street Hot Stamper from us, or just happen to be a huge fan of this album (and I certainly know there are more than a few of those out there) I imagine you will be very happy with the sound here! Leave the grueling work of huge shootouts to your friends at Better Records, and spend your free time enjoying great sound… not searching for it. (more…)

Billy Joel – Songs in the Attic – CBS Half-Speed Debunked

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing and another Half Speed debunked.

Records with too much bass and especially too much top end can’t be played loud. The louder you play them the worse they sound. Try playing the average MoFi at a loud volume. All that extra 10k starts to make your brain hurt. The CBS half-speed of this album is like that. It’s frustrating — the music makes you want to turn it up but the sound says forget it. Not the good pressings. They sounds BETTER when you play them loud.  

Billy Joel – The Stranger – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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The Strangere

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

THE BEST SOUNDING COPY OF THE STRANGER THAT WE’VE EVER HEARD! We just finished a major shootout for this album, and no copy came close to this bad boy. Side one has incredibly lively, MASTER TAPE quality sound, and side two isn’t far behind. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Billy Joel

Billy Joel

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom,  

Hey, I think you guys made a mistake! The card states A+, but I think you gave me an A++++ ! I was never a huge Billy Joel fan, but to get that Hot Stamper for 50 bucks; well I had to go for it. I was not disappointed: tremendous power especially in the bass, but his voice came through like he was standing there. It’s just so damn musical. Oh, and dead quiet too! This is my new “demo disk”. 

Thanks,

Gordon R.

Billy Joel – Piano Man – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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Piano Man

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This is the first Super Hot Stamper copy of Billy Joel’s classic Piano Man to ever hit the site! We’ve been trying to find great copies of this one for ages, but it is TOUGH. This copy gets you much better sound than most of them out there — it’s cleaner, clearer and more open with the kind of vocal presence needed to make the title track come to life. So many copies we played were thin, dry and grainy — sonic issues that really gets in the way of enjoying this music.

The vocals are full-bodied and breathy, the bottom end is clean and punchy, and there’s more richness than we heard on practically any of the other copies we played. The overall sound is very lively – you’ll have a very hard time finding a copy that sounds remotely as good. (more…)

Billy Joel – Songs in the Attic- Listening in Depth

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More Songs in the Attic

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Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

You know how you can tell when you have a Hot Stamper? It’s the side you play through to the end. When the sound is right you want to hear more. Since the opening track of this record is one of the keys to knowing whether it’s mastered and pressed properly, once you get past the sibilance hurdle on track one, the next step is to find out how the challenges presented by the rest of the tracks are handled on any given LP. Some advice follows.  (more…)