Billy Joel

The Essential Video Collection [Video/DVD]

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Watching this 105-minute program can make viewers feel a little deflated, seeing Billy Joel age across 30 years and realizing that he's only six years behind the artist. There apparently wasn't a promotional video done of "Piano Man" at the time of its release, resulting in its being represented by a much later live performance, so that the look of the production and the artist jumps around a bit from the beginning. Additionally, certain songs, such as "Goodnight Saigon," are represented by concert renditions that are out of chronological order. Otherwise, there is little or nothing unexpected in this DVD, except perhaps for the sound quality; Sony Music, which was a poor relation in terms of the sound of its CDs during the 1980s and most of the 1990s, has delivered up a brilliant-sounding DVD collection. The song selection and other menu functions are fairly routine, and there's an entertaining "Discography" feature (this reviewer had forgotten how many compilations on Joel's work there have been over the decades), as well as a well-detailed time line on the artist's life and career. The image is mastered in full-screen (1.33 to one), with each song getting a chapter number marker.