I’ve learned a lot over the last 18 months or so, whilst performing my Billy Joel Tribute UK show across the UK. For example, I now know that everyone loves Just The Way You Are and She’s Always A Woman. I also know that people love to dance to Uptown Girl, but aren’t fussed about We Didn’t Start The Fire (I’m SO glad I memorised all of those lyrics)…but most of all, I’ve learned that there is a whole world of Billy Joel songs that the average fan is yet to discover!
So, in the spirit of public service, I’ve compiled my Top 5 list of lesser-known Billy Joel tunes that you must listen to immediately!
1. Half A Mile Away
I must admit, I was late to the party on this one too. I wasn’t really aware of it until I saw Billy play it live in Manchester in June 2018. He announced that he had never played it live until earlier that year. Upon hearing it, I was totally hooked. It became the soundtrack to my Summer. I listened to it ALL THE TIME… on my way to work, whilst doing the dishes, dancing around the house…everywhere! It’s super-funky with a great groove. The brass reminds me of Steely Dan, the backing vocals are reminiscent of Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones…it’s just a great song! If you’ve got a ‘Feel Good’ playlist on Spotify, this needs to be on it!
2. Easy Money
This song is widely regarded as an homage to Soul legends, Wilson Pickett and James Brown. It’s the opening track on the Innocent Man album…and it will blow your socks clean off! It was never released as a single, but it did feature in the 1983 movie of the same name, starring Rodney Dangerfield (who also appeared in the video for Tell Her About It, if you remember). It’s tight…it’s funky…the brass stabs are stonking! It’s pure filth, and I love it!
3. Get It Right The First Time
Despite being on arguably one of the best albums in history, this gem gets overlooked in favour of Movin’ Out, The Stranger, Just The Way You Are, Scenes From An Italian Restaurant, Vienna, Only The Good Die Young and She’s Always A Woman – goodness, it’s an incredible album, isn’t it? It’s a little bit funk, it’s a little bit disco, with more than a hint of samba flavour, but it’s the vocal (along with Doug Stegmeyer’s bass line) that really gets me going on this! I’m learning it for my all-new Billy Joel Tribute UK show, but getting it right the first time is harder that it sounds!
4. Sleeping With The Television On
This beauty was never released as a single, which is a bit strange as it’s SO catchy and SO fun. It’s got some serious Joe Jackson (Is She Really Going Out With Him?) vibes, with a bit of Elvis Costello thrown-in…and don’t try telling me that the organ solo doesn’t remind you of Hey Mickey by Toni Basil – she must’ve been a big Billy fan! It’s a perfect pop song, relentless from the minute it kicks-in, with incredible backing vocals and great lyrics. It’s another one that I’d love to include in my set. Turn it up loud!
5. That’s Not Her Style
For this to only get to No.77 on the US Charts is an absolute crime! It’s a stomper of the highest order. I think Storm Front is such an under-appreciated album, and this opening track really kicks it off. It’s a song about celebrities and the press which oozes with 80s pop / rock charm. Sadly, it isn’t included in Billy’s setlist anymore…which makes this live recording even better. Amazing vocal again from Billy and bags of energy throughout the song…especially Crystal! What a line-up… what a song!