Feb 012010

The first post of the month always features covers of every track on a famous album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

Despite the fact that he had already released songs like “Piano Man,” “New York State of Mind” and “The Entertainer,” it took Billy Joel until his fifth album to hit the big time. After The Stranger hit in 1977 though, weddings were never the same again.

The Pale Pacific – Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)

One of the all-time great rock stutters gets an appropriately full-volume delivery by some Seattle indie vets. [Buy]

Lowtide – The Stranger

Lowtide’s MySpace page describes them as “the musical equivalent of a computer virus,” which is pretty accurate. They didn’t seem to bother learning the real words here, so it’s viral in every sense of the word: unexpected, annoying, and infectious. [Buy]

Alex D’Castro – Just the Way You Are

Billy Joel is as sick of this dreck as you are. “I feel hypocritical [playing this song],” he told the New York Times a few years ago. “I divorced the woman I wrote it for.” Perhaps he should revert to the less schmaltzy version he sang for Oscar the Grouch in the ‘70s. Or perhaps he should check out with swinging salsa version. [Buy]

Titta and Trombetta – Scenes from an Italian Restaurant

Any Billy Joel cover that doesn’t employ a lick of piano deserves props, particularly if it’s substituted with a double-acoustic guitar jam. [Buy]

Ingrid Graudins – Vienna

Billy Joel has listed “Vienna” as one of his two personal favorites (the other being “Summer, Highland Falls”). It’s certainly among his most personal, detailing the time while on a trip to see his estranged Austria-dwelling father he saw a 90-year old woman sweeping the street and realized how much America abandons the elderly. “I thought ‘This is a terrific idea – that old people are useful -and that means I don’t have to worry so much about getting old because I can still have a use in this world in my old age,’” he said years later. “I thought ‘Vienna waits for you…’” [Buy]

After the Fall – Only the Good Die Young

Insert joke about Billy Joel being old here… [Buy]

The Diamond Family Archive – She’s Always a Woman

A song that puts the “z” in “cheeze,” “She’s Always a Woman” gets a surprisingly sensitive treatment from these banjo-and-mandolin folkies. And listening to that voice, you’ll want to be the woman he’s singing about. [Buy]

Kool T – Get It Right the First Time

Last November one website sponsored a Billy Joel beat-making contest where would-be DJs could only use sounds from the original tapes of this and “Stiletto.” Most are exactly as terrible as you might expect, but Kool T took a few hooks from “Get It Right” and created something almost unrecognizable. It’s technically a remix I suppose, but you find me a decent cover of this song and we’ll talk. [Buy]

The Manhattans – Everybody Has a Dream

The Stranger ends with this quiet gospel-tinged number, but these Philly soul sensations blew it wide open in a 1978 single that went to #65 on the R&B charts. [Buy]

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  9 Responses to “Full Albums: Billy Joel’s The Stranger”

Comments (7) Pingbacks (2)
  1. LowtIde is incredible <3

  2. I LOLed at the cover of "The Stranger." What a silly band! :D

  3. Thank you so much for taking the time to round up these (and other) Billy Joel covers. You’re right that he’s criminally undercovered, and you seriously made my morning when I found this post.

    I’ll be keeping an eye on this blog, just in case you ever do the same for anything off “The Nylon Curtain” or….DARE I HOPE…some of his cheesy but irresistible nonsense from “The Bridge.”

    Or just about anything of his, really, because I’m a loser who’s still overinvested in her childhood favorite.

  4. Any chance this site could ever write about Billy Joel WITHOUT referring to “dreck,” “schmaltz,” or “cheese”? He’s one of the great songwriters of the rock era, and one of the best melodists to ever live. I never see you guys slag off Elton, McCartney or freakin’ Neil Diamond the way you do Billy, in spite of the fact that Billy’s catalogue was consistently better, album for album than ANY of those other people I just mentioned (I’m talking McCartney’s post-Beatles years here).

  5. Alison… Take no shame in being a Billy Joel fan. As he always says, “Don’t take any sh*t from anybody!” Especially the people who write for this site. Heck, even you’re selling him short.

  6. Hey… I really wanted to buy the “Only the Good Die Young” cover, but the link is to Amazon and there’s no option to buy it. Only to listen to a short sample. Any chance, since you have the mp3 on this site already, you could just make it available for download here? The CD that it’s on isn’t readily available either. Just overpriced used copies form a third party seller.

  7. Those poor songs! The only thing I like are The Manhattans. That’s a great version!

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