Leaked early and posting late. Gotta love how that works.
Next week will see the release of the keys-intensive Billy Joel pack that was talked about when Rock Band announced it had Billy Joel to give. It should go without saying that if you’re big on keys, you won’t want to miss this.
+ = pro-guitar/bass chart available
“I Go to Extremes” is a great song, though one I never exactly listened to with an ear toward the piano until now. (It’s a Billy Joel song, so you sort of take for granted it’s going to have piano.) But this sounds like it’ll be a lot of fun on keys. And that little piano solo? Excellent. This is also worth a look for the other instruments as well. Tons of super rapid strumming on guitar and drums sound energetic without being “beat your arm off” difficult.
I can’t remember when I last heard “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)”. Also I can’t seem to find the studio version. Okay! First of all: HOLY CRAP, THAT PIANO INTRO. I mean I guess they call it a “challenge pack” for a reason, but all I can say is “thank you for no fail mode, HMX”. And I love how in the video they don’t go to his hands until he’s done playing all that amazing shit, well done guys. So yes, the song. Very melancholy, even as it picks up and becomes quite rockin’ in the middle. It has a nice epic feel to it as well, despite the fact that the song is under five minutes. I think I’d want to see how the studio version/whatever version Harmonix uses stacks up, but despite keys and vocals grabbing much of the spotlight, I again think there’s enough happening here to appeal to the whole band. Bass included, this time!
Next is “My Life”, which was one of my top picks when we first heard about a Billy Joel pack. Funnily enough I wouldn’t have put it in the “piano challenge” category, so there’s obviously something I’m misremembering. And I have to admit that even now I’m not exactly hearing it. Which tells me I’m probably seriously missing something, but will need to see the charts to find out what exactly. The song itself: it’s actually a lot more low key than I remember it. It’s pretty solidly adult contemporary/easy listening. Interestingly enough, the bass is probably the instrument that stands out most. Of the three we’ve had so far, this one would probably be my last pick to have in the game.
Moving to “Prelude/Angry Young Man”, and again with the scorching piano intro. I’m actually kind of surprised that this is the one with the pro-guitar chart this week, so again I’m wondering what I’m not hearing. This has never been a favourite song of mine – I actually like it lot better before the singing starts – but there can be no doubt about the keys. Here is your “Ride the Lightning”, keyboardists. Enjoy. Also drummers, I don’t know what the hell you’re doing, but you’ll sure be doing a lot of it.
Of course “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” is probably the song we all knew was coming. It’s a Billy Joel showcase, exemplifying his abilities as a singer/songwriter. It’s really more three songs in one (think “Bohemian Rhapsody”, though far less dramatic), and will be a test of not just skill but endurance for any keyboardist. At just over seven and a half minutes, you’re getting your money’s worth here. At least for keys. Bass, you’ve got your little bass thing going and guitar, I’m sure you’ve got your stuff too, but since you’re not a clarinet and a sax, I sure can’t hear it. Still this is a fantastic song that is a must for a keyboardist and should be a ton of fun on vocals too.
Lastly we have “She’s Always a Woman”. I gotta say, before I give it another listen here, I just do not like this song. Slooooow slow ballad and for me just boring as hell. (Though okay I do confess to really liking the line “she never gives out/and she never gives in/she just changes her mind”.) So bear that opinion in mind, and here we go. Man, I can’t tell what’s a piano and what’s a guitar here, but I’m going to guess that all the hard stuff I’m hearing is piano given the pack. Still that sounds a lot like a guitar of some sort in there. No drums though I’m pretty sure – first drumless song? ANYway, song itself. It’s not quite as boring as I remember, and I do really like the poetry in the lyrics, I just never ever want to listen to it. Perhaps playing it and singing it will bring a new perspective. That definitely happened with the last Billy Joel pack where I expressed much mehitude about “Only the Good Die Young”, only to have it become one of my favourites from that pack. I don’t think it likely, but hey. I’ll take it as a freebie.
As alluded to above, this is going to be a full-pack purchase for me. I’m still not great at keys and my attention has been really split since getting the Squier, but I didn’t have anything less than an amazing time with each and every Billy Joel song from the last pack, and I imagine this one will go down the same way.
If you’re looking to cherry pick though? For the non-keys players out there, I think I’d suggest “I Got to Extremes” and “Miami 2017”. But must note that the pro-chart selection of “Angry Young Man” means I’m likely missing something and you should check the charts before making a final decision. For keys and vocalists, you really can’t go wrong, but \”Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” is your must-buy. Also for keys, do not overlook “Angry Young Man”.
But really, if you’re all about the keys, this here pack is tailor-made for you. Just get the whole thing already.