BILLY JOEL : COLD SPRING HARBOR
Label : Columbia
Time : 29:53
Released : November 1971
Review (AllMusic) : A few short months after abandoning the heavy organ-and-drums duo Attila - partially because their sole record flopped, partially because he stole the drummer's wife - Billy Joel reinvented himself as a sensitive singer/songwriter. He had shown signs of McCartney-esque songcraft on Hour of the Wolf, the last Hassles album, but his debut album, Cold Spring Harbor, is where these talents blossomed. The record was uneven but very charming, boasting two of his finest songs -- the lovely "She's Got a Way" and the bitterly cynical "Everybody Loves You Now" -- and a score of flawed but nicely crafted songs that illustrated Joel's gift for melody, as well as his pretensions (the mock-gospel in "Tomorrow Is Today," a classical stab entitled "Nocturne"). In its own way, Cold Spring Harbor was a minor gem of the sensitive singer/songwriter era; Joel may have been in his formative stages as a craftsman, but his talents are apparent, and he never made an album as intimate and vulnerable ever again. Ironically, it didn't sound right upon its original release. Through a bizarre mastering error, the tapes were sped up - legend has it that upon hearing the completed album, he ripped it off the turntable, ran out of the house, and threw it down the street. It wasn't until 1983 that Columbia released a corrected reissue. The speed wasn't the only thing changed - some songs were edited drastically ("You Can Make Me Free," one of the standouts, was chopped by nearly five minutes) and instruments and backing vocals were stripped away from numerous tracks. It may be a bastardization of the original release, but it's an acceptable one, since these changes only accentuate the intimacy and vulnerability of the recording.
Review (Discogs) : Joel's debut album, released in November of 1971. Joel recorded this album primarily to showcase his abilities as a songwriter, intending to market his songs to other artists: as a result the production on this album is in the vein of other singer-songwriter/soft rock acts of the period. Four singles appear to have been released from this album: She's Got A Way, Tomorrow Is Today, Why Judy Why, and Nocturne. Neither the album nor any of its singles were successful, although "She's Got A Way" and "Everybody Loves You Now" were re-recorded for Joel's 1981 live album Songs In The Attic: the live version of "She's Got A Way" became a hit, and a live music video was created for "Everybody Loves You Now", elevating its status in Joel's catalog. Two different versions of this album exist. The 1971 Family Productions recordings were mastered at the wrong speed, causing the pitch of the entire album to be a semi-tone too high. In 1983, Columbia Records, which had released all of Joel's subsequent albums, permitted the producer to re-edit and remix the album: the most drastic changes were made to "You Can Make Me Free", which had its running time cut by more than half, and both "Everybody Loves You Now" and "Turn Around", for which the producer added additional overdubs. Joel had no involvement with the remixed album, which was released with a slightly different cover.