Columbia / Legacy (label)
19 May 2014 (released)
11 May 2014
Billy Joel's back catalogue has undergone the 2014 touch up treatment and has been re-released over the last few months, reminding many of his wonderful talent and perhaps introducing the pianist to a whole new audience. After all, he hasn't released a new album for more than two decades but is now on his first solo tour in five years.
The latest album to be remastered is this 1987 album, which came two years before the Berlin wall came down, and with Russian-American relations just beginning to thaw. At the time, accepting the invitation from the Kremlin was a brave move, and the documentary reveals a fascinating insight into the tough opening to the concert, with stern faced Russians leaving their seats in the front row, only to be replaced by jubilant, over-excited fans, including security guards!
The album itself features some terrific performances, interspersed with introductions and explanations translated into Russian. Among them is the emotional reference to Vietnam before the anthemic Goodnight Saigon, which must have also hit home to a Russian public still reeling from a failed Afghanistan campaign. Of course there is the obligatory Back In the USSR, as well as a cheeky reference to the time of Glasnost with The Times They Are A-Changin'.
The release also contains a booklet of photographs from the trip and is a wonderfully put together momento of not just an extraordinary concert but an extraordinary time in history. As Joel marks his 50th anniversary as a professional musician, it is a timely reminder of what a huge artist he was for a 20-year period.