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Reviews: Billy Joel: The Stranger

Reviews: 7

Review by dmx May 31, 2003
Performance:   Sonics:
Good quality, warm, background hiss is estetic and very close to the vinal

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Review by flyingdutchman August 25, 2003 (2 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Well done recording and a definite required disc. One nitpick on the multi-channel SACD mix and that is there are a number of songs that come from the center channel. However, there are also a couple of the tracks that come from the left channel. I don't know if this is a problem with the remaster or was planned that way. For that reason, until I have different info, I give the sonics a 4.

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Review by DACooper February 26, 2004 (11 of 11 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Billy Joel needs no introduction to anyone who's followed pop music in the past 25 years. He's simply one of the most talented singer-songwriters of the past quarter century. With The Stranger, he reached the top of the charts and created one of his most enduring works at the same time. This Grammy award winning album contains "Just the Way You Are," one of the most honest and beautiful love songs of all time, but it also contains classics like "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" and "Only the Good Die Young." Joel surrounds himself with talented, but unpretentious musicians who wonderfully interpret his music. And Phil Ramone's original production gave this material a thoughtful, clean mix that accentuated the songs and the musicians.

This is one of the original single-layer Sony SACDs, which pale in comparison to new hybrids that are starting to find their way into the market. For one thing, we've come to expect an upgrade in packaging, not the redbook CD booklet with 1 or 2 lines crediting the remastering team. It ships in a traditional jewel case, and is otherwise indistinguishable from a traditional CD; however, once you pop this baby into your SACD player, you'll find yourself dazzled by the sonics, in either stereo or 5.1.

I won't spend much time on the stereo mix, except to say that a friend loaned me the remastered redbook CD and, while this is definitely a step up, there's nothing jaw-droppingly better about the stereo mix. It sounds marginally better, but not enough of a leap in quality to suggest you should replace your redbook edition.

However, if you are 5.1-capable, you should really consider buying this CD. The multichannel mix is outstanding. The lead vocals stand out clearly at the top of the mix from the center channel, and the instruments are spread generously around the 4 front and surround speakers, with the piano positioned FL. The LFE is given a lot of data, and produces a strong amount of well-defined low-end. Also, the instrument placement around the mix seems logical, giving the overall band an authentic "live in the studio" feel, with a strong, but not overpowering amount of ambient echo from the surrounds.

Where this mix really shines, though, is in the small moments that you might otherwise miss. Take "Only the Good Die Young," for example. What I never REALLY noticed on that song before is Liberty DeVitto's terrific work on the brushes, but this mix gives you a great chance to hear every swipe of the drumskin. Another example is "Just Like A Woman," which has a terrific arpeggio line by the acoustic guitars of Hugh McCracken and Steve Burgh. On the multichannel mix they sing through the mix to give the song a brighter tone. There are many other examples I could site, but I think you get the idea.

Bottom line? If you are a fan of this album and you are set up for 5.1, you absolutely need to buy this SACD. You won't be sorry.

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Review by FunkyMonkey January 9, 2008 (2 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Just got this album for under £7 brand new from amazon uk. :-)

The multi-channel mix is a bit heavy on the rears in some songs. I know this gives greater chance for each instrument to stand out but too artificial for me.

Regardign the comment about this giving an in-the-studio feel...only if you have the players in a semi-circle around you!

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Review by analogue February 24, 2009 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Classic 70's album.

Stereo mix is very dissapointing. Sounds to me they worked off the original remastered pcm master. It has a digital brighteness and brittleness that one associates with low rez pcm. Much to be desired. It is impossible for the music to bloom.....rather it gets strident and harsh whenever it gets louder.The resolution is definitely truncated. It sounds fine if you want the regular cd. But guess what........this is supposed to be a real sacd. Right???

The multi channel mix is terrific. It is such a shock to hear Joel's voice completely seperate from all the other insruments and entirely on its own. WOW!!!! This is what this sacd is all about. The multi channel mix is where this saacd really shines and comes to life. As to whether the use of all five channels and how they did this is to your liking is another story. Some like it ..............some do not.

Great.....classic album. Shame on Sony or whomever for screwing up the stereo mix and essentially cheating us.

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Review by pvcmusiclover September 26, 2011 (1 of 2 found this review helpful)
Analysis of software generated DSD->88.2 conversions of the stereo masters shows that there's musical content extending regularly up to 23khz and some drum hits with traces up to 29.

The sound is fairly tight, although rather stale and un-involving.

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Review by GMONEY August 12, 2013 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
First let me say that I love this album so understand that I was willing to shell out bucks to get the original multi-channel SACD in mint condition with slip case based on all the internet raves. Well maybe this is killer in multi channel surround stereo, but if you listen in 2 channel stereo its a bust. I have to say I'm not impressed with the 2 channel stereo of this SACD so I would say unless you going to listen in surround mode don't pay the $60 and up prices this goes for on Ebay. Either up-covert the red book CD remaster or buy the SACD MFSL for under $30 bucks.

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