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Cold Spring Harbor

Billy Joel

℗ 1971 Family Productions FPS 2700

℗ 1983 Columbia Records CK 38984

Billy Joel • 1971 • Cold Spring Harbor

Cold Spring Harbor was Billy Joel's first solo album, and was released in 1971. He had already released several albums as a member of the bands The Hassles (1966 to 1969) and Attila (1970). This was his first solo effort. It was released by Family Productions, but through an error in the album's mastering, the songs were slightly too fast, up one half step, causing Joel's voice to sound unnaturally high. Artie Ripp, owner of Family Productions and hence the owner of the original master tapes, re-mixed and re-released an updated version of the album in 1983 on Columbia Records, without any involvement by Billy Joel. Ripp had originally signed the then-unknown 22 year old Joel to a 10-record contract. As a result he was able to continue collecting large royalties on sales of Joel's biggest hit records long after Joel's acrimonious departure from Family Productions, despite Joel's constant efforts to buy back his contract. Shortly after Joel released his tenth album, the last on which Ripp could collect royalties, Ripp re-released Cold Spring Harbor in order to earn more through royalties. While the 1983 version is at the correct speed, it is stripped of much of the original orchestration by Jimmie Haskell. Instead, Ripp added several new drum and drum machine tracks performed by Mike McGee, as well as a bit of synthesizers by Al Campbell, in an attempt to give the record a more updated feel. The engineer for the re-recording and re-mixing sessions was unhappy with the results and asked that his name not be included on the album (Ripp himself is given engineering credit). The album is named after a hamlet of the same name in the town of Huntington, a seaside community near Joel's hometown. The lyrics of the song "Tomorrow Is Today" were derived from a note Joel had written when he tried to commit suicide by drinking furniture polish. He was found by his manager and taken immediately to a hospital where his stomach was pumped.

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