Quad LP/Tape Poll Joel, Billy: Piano Man [SQ/Q8]

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Rate "Piano Man"

  • 10: Tops

    Votes: 1 11.1%
  • 9

    Votes: 1 11.1%
  • 8

    Votes: 6 66.7%
  • 7

    Votes: 1 11.1%
  • 6

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 5: So-so

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 4

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 3

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 2

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 1: Friggin' worthless

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    9

EMB

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Columbia CQ 32544, from 1973, quad version issued 1974.

Side 1:

Travelin' Prayer
Piano Man
Ain't No Crime
You're My Home
The Ballad of Billy the Kid

Side 2:

Worse Comes to Worst
Stop in Nevada
If I Only Had the Words (To Tell You)
Somewhere Along the Line
Captain Jack

ED :)
 

Q-Eight

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Really? We've never discussed/rated this one? That's almost a travesty!

I do own the Q8 with a huge chunk of tape cut out of it. *sigh* But, thanks to JonUrban and ArmyofQuad, I finally got to hear the album in it's entirety! (Thanks Again, Guys!) Obviously, mixed at a Columbia studio. Very four-corner discrete. I think because the tape was released on Family Productions, it didn't get passed through Dolby, and as such, the tape version is quite hissy with low saturation. Not quite Liberty/UA tape low levels, but low enough that the hiss gets annoying when you turn up the tunes.

Anywho, the mix. Yes, the mix. Well, as I said, it's a major four-corner job. Billy's piano is up front. Drums are in the rear for some of the songs. To my ears, the songs with the drums in the front sound better. But because of the sparse instrumentation of songs like Piano Man, they had to spread things out somehow. Not exactly the way I would have, but c'est la vie. It is however one of those instances where the mix and the music don't jive. For this kind of stuff, it could stand to be less discrete. Kind of like how the Neil Diamond Q8 is less discrete, yet it works. I think this album could've benefited from a tighter mix and given you that "in the studio" feel, rather than what amounts to listening to a bunch of overdubs in the corners. "Piano Man" is probably one of the better mixes on the tape. Drums in the rear, piano & Billy up front with the harmonica blasts up front and the concertina in the right rear. Almost makes you think you're sitting in the middle of a barroom band. (I did play with the mix in Audition and artificially narrowed the mix and it still sounds really good - better than the SQ)

Content-wise, it's Billy Joel when he was starving. People/Groups generally are more creative or ambitious when they really want to break-out - early Aerosmith is another good example. It's creative, it's bouncy and it's varied. There's something here for everyone.

Mix? A product of it's time. Hardly Earth-shattering, but better than double stereo.

However, I will add the one caveat..... if you do find this one on eBay, don't just jump at it because it's uber rare. Wait for a good one or at least.... one that's been play-tested.
 

EMB

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I'd rate this one a '7'...some good songs, mixes are decent (I'd like to hear your 'tightening' of them because, yes, there is a certain diffusion of sound that tends to lessen the impact of some tracks). At this point in his struggling career, Joel did cop Elton John on the title track to some degree, but I always thought of it as Billy putting himself in the shoes as a lounge lizard pianist singing to guys trying to get laid or drunk (or both) and pretty much oblivious to what he was doing. A fate Joel himself might have suffered if he hadn't finally gotten this hit.

ED :)
 

Franklin

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I gave some of this a spin the other night, again from an SQ using OD's last script he linked to on this site (as far as I'm aware) which incidentally appeared within a day or too of me registering, I think. The decode separates the acoustic intro on You're My Home really well into the rear right, with only some low level remnants in the front right. It could be the transfer, but I'm not keen on the tone, and yes - it could be too wide a mix. Also the vocals on You're My Home are too low - this is also the case when the SQ is played undecoded. There are elements of the album I like, but I still can't remember how all the tracks go. I may give this a spin soon, but as an album and as a quad mix it looks like I prefer Streetlife Serenade.

(As far as the stereo mix goes, the UK CBS vinyl didn't sound great, and the stereo Legacy CD remaster sounds WAY better.)
 

JonUrban

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I happen to like this one, music-wise, much better than Steetlife Serenade. To me there are other great songs to go with the title track which everyone knows thanks to the 3:05 45, but "Captain Jack", "Ballad of Billy the Kid" are still concert staples, and "You're My Home" to me is a better song than any song on "SS". Sure, there are some duds here, but on the whole it's a better set of tunes to me than SS. Neither this album, or SS, is as good as "Turnstiles" however, and it's a damn shame that Turnstiles was released by MFSL and not AF.

As for the quad mix, I have the original Q8 files on a reel, and it's another very hit-you-over-the-head discrete mix. The orchestral parts of Billy and Captain are squarely in the rears, as are individual instruments and solos during other songs. I haven't played it in a while, but I still remember the extreme separation. The best conversion I have heard of this album was by AoQ. That's about as good as it's going to get IMHO, and I know how hard he worked on it.
 

Franklin

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Does anybody else find the sound of the SQ Turnstiles on the muddy side?
 

sjcorne

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I actually really enjoy this because of the "dated" nature of the mix. The fact that you would never hear any surround album mixed like this today is part of what makes it fun. The material is of course timeless. Love the mix on "Billy The Kid" especially, with the orchestra and piano answering front to back. For me a great quad mix uses the four corners aggressively and reveals parts you can't hear in the stereo. This mix does A LOT of that, and there's no crazy placements like drums or bass in a corner.

It's a great remnant of a time when engineers weren't afraid to really go crazy mixing in surround. I do like Phil Ramone's modern 5.1 remixes of The Stranger and 52nd Street, but can't help but wonder what it would be like if they were mixed in this style.

An easy 10. After the whole Bridge Over Troubled Water fiasco is over Sony Japan has got to tackle the remaining BJ quads.
 

keywhiz

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I'd also really love to hear AoQ's conversion if somebody might be willing to help?
I’ve been very fortunate in that a forum member was willing to allow me to listen to his copies of both the SQ and Q8 versions of “Piano Man”. (Along with “Turnstiles”. ) I don’t know if either version of PM is the AoQ version, but they are a bit of a tough listen from a fidelity standpoint. The mix is OK—-I think “Streetlife Serenade” is better which isn’t quite as “4 corners”. I also think SS is a better album overall. “Piano Man” has 3 classics, and one other good track (“You’re My Home) but the rest is filler and Billy trying to find his voice, IMO. SS is more solid throughout as his songwriting is really starting to take shape.

I’d love to hear a proper release of PM. I think the mix is pretty good. Probably better than “Turnstiles” overall, which has some serious problems. I buy that one too if it’s ever released though.

I’m not going to rate this one. At least not yet. I’m fairly new to hearing the copies of the old quads that are being circulated. And I’m not sure if I should even be rating them or if that should only be left to those those are actually listening to the physical media on the original equipment.
 

DisneySpirit

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Thanks to some generous collectors I was finally able to find both The Piano Man and Turnstiles decodes in DVD-A and multichannel FLAC formats. I also purchased all the released multichannel SACDs The Stranger, 52nd Street, and Streetlife Serenade as well as the DVD video collections he released in 5.1 surround. I think I like The Stranger best of all.
 

chas9496

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Hi. I'm a new returning member that changed their email address and re-registered. I know this reply is a little late but is there anyone that has a clean version of the Quad Mix of Piano Man ? We do a lot of sharing files on another site via PM's and noticed some of you asked the same question. All downloads of the Quad LP converted to a DVD-A or other files have been deleted by the owner. I'm not a Torrent person either due to the fact of possible Viruses. Most all the LP's for sale are out of my price range or are in only VG condition. Glad to be back and please let me know. Thanks in advance.
 

Clint Eastwood

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Hi. I'm a new returning member that changed their email address and re-registered. I know this reply is a little late but is there anyone that has a clean version of the Quad Mix of Piano Man ? We do a lot of sharing files on another site via PM's and noticed some of you asked the same question. All downloads of the Quad LP converted to a DVD-A or other files have been deleted by the owner. I'm not a Torrent person either due to the fact of possible Viruses. Most all the LP's for sale are out of my price range or are in only VG condition. Glad to be back and please let me know. Thanks in advance.
Did you change your screen name?...in any case...welcome back

 

chas9496

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I just wanted to clarify something. I wasn't asking anyone on the board to share any files as most chat boards don't allow it, unless it's via email in a PM then downloaded from a site like Google Drive, Box, etc. Sounds like some of you have gotten or found links or someone on the net that has them. Actually I was looking for Worse Comes To Worst. It's a different mix than the LP and I believe the 45 was different as well. The Quad Mix sounds the best IMO. I think this was a very underrated song. Only reaching 80 on the Top 100. Sorry for jabbering on.
 
Last edited:

fredblue

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I just wanted to clarify something. I wasn't asking anyone on the board to share any files as most chat boards don't allow it, unless it's via email in a PM then downloaded from a site like Google Drive, Box, etc. Sounds like some of you have gotten or found links or someone on the net that has them. Actually I was looking for Worse Comes To Worst. It's a different mix than the LP and I believe the 45 was different as well. The Quad Mix sounds the best IMO. I think this was a very underrated song. Only reaching 80 on the Top 100. Sorry for jabbering on.
do PM anytime for more info on the BJ Quads, i may be able to lend a fellow Quaddy a hand 🤝
 

Marcsten

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Huh. I am surprised there's not more love for the material on this album. True its not as diverse as Streetlife Serenade or possibly Turnstiles, but this is a landmark LP in the career of a major artist. I think the tracks reflect a period where he wasn't over-producing his stuff and really was performing like the guy in Piano Man. As such, I love it. I saw him right after SS came out and was lucky enough to bump into him on the street after the show. He was so nice to a pair of teenagers gushing. And I like the mix too. I lime the four corners without being too overwhelming. The fidelity, sheesh, that is not so great. It is all midrange and practically screams at you on the faster songs like Aint no Crime. But lots of CBS SQs had this flaw, although not as pronounced. As I have said elsewhere, a nice tube amp helps a little here. All in all an 8 for me.
 
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