Vinyl

Billy Joel – The Stranger

I’d give Mobile Fidelity a swab of my DNA if the label would work its magic on Billy Joel’s Streetlife Serenade, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. So we’ll need to settle for the Grammy-winning The Stranger. Part of the imprint’s ongoing Joel reissue campaign, this 45RPM edition of The Stranger sounds incredible.  If this record—ranked by Rolling Stone among the 100 Greatest Albums of All Time—is your jam, call Music Direct right now.  Dragging out the Columbia original from my archives instantly reminds me how dreadful the original sounds: two-dimensional, lifeless,  flat.

A two record set, this version of Joel’s biggest-selling record (it was available on 8-track, back in 1977!) lords over the original. The 45RPM platters really make transients jump.  Where the original is congested, Mobile Fidelity’s edition does justice to Joel’s piano playing by giving it more of its own space and texture. In addition, his band is much better represented. Now, it’s easier to give Joel and producer Phil Ramone credit for the arrangements.

By record’s end, it becomes clear MoFi ticked all the boxes. Big, big sound. Super-quiet surfaces. Excellent artwork.  Another boomer favorite reborn.  -- Jeff Dorgay

Mobile Fidelity, 180g 45RPM 2LP

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