My Lives (2005)

Disc One 1. My Journey's End 2. Time and Time Again 3. Every Step I Take (Every Move I Make) 4. You've Got Me Hummin' 5. Amplifier Fire 6. Only a Man (Demo) 7. She's Got a Way 8. Oyster Bay (Demo) 9. Piano Man (Demo) 10.The Siegfried Line (Demo) 11.New Mexico (Demo) 12.Cross to Bear (Demo) 13.Miami 2017 (Demo) 14.These Rhinestone Days (Demo) 15.Everybody Has a Dream 16.Only the Good Die Young (Alternate Version) 17.Until the Night 18.Zanzibar 19.It's Still Rock and Roll to Me Disc Two 1. Captain Jack (Live) 2. The End of the World (Demo) 3. The Prime of Your Life (Demo) 4. She's Right on Time 5. Elvis Presley Blvd. 6. Nobody Knows But Me 7. An Innocent Man 8. Christie Lee (Demo) 9. Easy Money 10.And So it Goes (Demo) 11.I'll Cry Instead (Live) 12.Keeping the Faith (Dance Remix) 13.Modern Woman 14.Baby Grand 15.Getting Closer (Alternate Version) 16.House of Blue Light 17.Money or Love (Demo) 18.The Times They Are A-Changin' (Live) Disc Three 1. The Downeaster "Alexa" 2. I Go to Extremes (Live) 3. Shout (Live) 4. All Shook Up 5. Heartbreak Hotel 6. When You Wish Upon A Star 7. In a Sentimental Mood 8. Motorcycle Song (Demo) 9. You Picked A Real Bad Time 10.The River of Dreams (Alternate Version) 11.A Hard Day's Night (Live) 12.Light as a Breeze 13.To Make You Feel My Love 14.Hey Girl 15.Why Should I Worry 16.Where Were You (On Our Wedding Day)? 17.Highway 61 Revisited (Demo) Disc Four 1. Movin' Out (Live) 2. You May Be Right (Live - Duet with Elton John) 3. Big Shot 4. Don't Worry Baby 5. Goodnight Saigon (Vietnam Veterans Version) 6. Los Angelenos 7. New York State of Mind (Live) 8. Soliloquy (On a Separation) 9. Innamorato 10.Sorbetto 11.Delusion 12.Elegy: The Great Peconic 13.Glass Houses Promo Talk


Quite possibly the worst release in his catalog for multiple reasons. Several years ago, Joel was asked if he "had any songs lying around that were unreleased that might ever see the light of day". His response was something like, "Not much. And if they do get released, don't buy 'em". So when this package came out, it wasn't surprising to hear him say "Well, I could have sued to prevent this from happening, but I'm tired of lawsuits". In other words, he didn't like this either.

So what was it that made this release so horrible? Let's count the ways:

1) This was obviously either a contractual obligation and/or a way to capitalize on his ongoing success as a performer despite his retirement from recording. Despite the consumer's first assumption when they see this package, this is not a "best of" package (he's already had enough of these), but rather a hodge/podge of mostly rarities. Not necessarily a bad thing, but.....

2) Had he released only rarities on this thing, that could have been acceptable. Problem is he didn't have enough rareties for four discs. Had this been a two disc set, it would have been quite appealing, but since bean counters want more money, they had to pad it with stuff other than rarities. So how do you actually pull that off? The planners of this record decide they'll go for the theme of variety. In other words, since Billy Joel's music had so much variety and different styles, let's try to put all of those styles on this box set. So in addition to the unreleased stuff, there's a handful of songs that he's already released here, but they're here only for diversity sake. This just muddles the whole thing up. Do we really need the exact same version of It's Still Rock and Roll To Me thrown in with all this mess? Or An Innocent Man? Or Until the Night? Or anything else in his catalog?

3) But, with all this padding, there's still not enough material, so let's pad some more! So they dig back to the groups that he played in during the sixties, The Hassles and Atilla. If you've never heard of either one of these groups, there's a reason. None of those songs are that memorable, and the one from Atilla (that'd be Amplifier Fire) is particularly awful.

4) More padding is needed. O.K., let's look for some useless covers that he may have performed at a concert or two. So we get Billy doing covers of The Beatles and Bob Dylan and a few worthless toss offs of him doing Elvis.

5) Still more padding needed.....hmmmm...we can throw in "alternate" versions that don't sound too dissimilar from the original cuts. Done. Check!

6) How about the three cover songs of other people's material that no one cared about but were added to Greatest Hits Volume 3?

7) We still need more padding. Hey! I've got an idea! Let's fill up disc 4 with a lot of stuff from the classical album that no one bought!

8) Still need to fill up some space. Hmmmm.....well, how about some spoken dialogue between Billy and producer Phil Ramone from 1980 where they talk about the Glass Houses album? Well, it's pretty awful. I mean Billy and Phil are trying to be funny, and it's flat out embarrassingly unfunny, but we need to fill it up with something. Well, o.k.....go for it.

And on and on and on. I have to reiterate, there is some good stuff here, but one disc would have been plenty, two is actually stretching it pretty thin. But four??. Again, unlike Springsteen or Dylan, Joel simply didn't have a lot of unreleased quality stuff lying around. So don't be fooled. This is a huge waste of money.

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