Billy Joel

Gift guide

Box Sets

Billy Joel

My Lives (Legacy/Columbia)

A box set of rarities and demos demands patience from even the most dedicated fan, and luckily, "Piano Man" Billy Joel has enough faithful followers anxious to scoop up material from the once-prolific hit-maker. Everyone else will have a hard time sifting for gems in the 4-CD/1-DVD My Lives, 70 assorted demos, covers, live cuts, and the occasional studio hit. It begins with tracks from Joel's early Sixties bar bands the Lost Souls and the Hassles, and continues with a glimpse into Joel's songwriting process, as demos such as "The Prime of Your Life" give way to future hits like "The Longest Time." It's hard to argue against Joel's talent as a songwriter, but his body of work lacks the kind of studio tinkering or mystery that warrants a retrospective of rough drafts or forgotten B-sides. My Lives doesn't start unearthing treasure until disc three, when covers ("All Shook Up," "Hard Days Night") yield some of the set's better moments, and solo live versions of Joel classics such as "I Go to Extremes" beat out timid duets with the likes of Steve Winwood ("Getting Closer"). As the years pass, the collection concludes with Joel's more recent classical compositions. The DVD, a repackaged live show from his River of Dreams tour, only reinforces what we spent four discs learning: The "Piano Man" has his classics and his followers, but he rarely challenges either.

**

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
The Lovely Sparrows
Shake the Shadow (Record Review)

Libby Webster, March 22, 2019

Texas Platters
Mamahawk
Brain Invaderz (Record Review)

Jeremy Steinberger, March 22, 2019

More by Matt Dentler
Best Ofs
The Beta Band
The Best of the Beta Band (Record Review)

Dec. 30, 2005

Best Ofs
Beastie Boys
Solid Gold Hits (Record Review)

Dec. 30, 2005

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle