Billy Joel – The Stranger Japan half speed mastered Mastersound LP with obi


A rare Japanese limited edition half speed mastered Mastersound pressing of The Stranger by Billy Joel, including the original obi.

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Offered for sale is a rare Japanese “Mastersound” half speed mastered pressing of The Stranger by Billy Joel, including the original obi.

This is the rare half speed mastered first pressing that was pressed from American stampers; the later and more common pressing was digitally remastered.

Unlike the later pressings, this one says “Half Speed Mastered” on both the obi and the record label.

About this copy: This copy of The Stranger is a limited edition “Mastersound” pressing from Japan, issued in 1980 on the CBS label.

This copy includes the original obi, lyric insert, custom inner sleeve, generic Mastersound booklet listing other titles in the series, and generic posterboard Mastersound sleeve.

The cover is M-, with trace corner wear.  The obi is M-.

The custom inner sleeve is VG++ with a few wrinkles, but no splits.  The lyric insert is M-.  The generic Mastersound catalog is missing.

The disc is M- with a couple of faint sleeve scuffs.  There are a few spindle marks on the labels, but no marks on the vinyl.

A nice copy of a terrific LP and the best-sounding version of this LP that we’ve ever heard.

Background: Columbia Records had a short-lived series of audiophile pressings in the early 1980s that they called their Mastersound series.

These were high-quality pressings mastered with extra care and pressed on premium quality vinyl, and sold at a premium price.

Probably 90% of the records issued in that series in the United States were half speed mastered, while the remainder were digitally mastered.   Most of the digitally mastered titles were of classical music.

That wasn’t the case with the Japanese Mastersound series, however.  Nearly all of the titles in the CBS Mastersound series from Japan were digitally remastered, and most of them don’t sound as good as their analog Japanese counterparts.

In fact, there were only five pop/rock titles in the Japanese series that were half speed mastered:

  • Billy Joel – The Stranger (first issue only; second issue was digitally remastered)
  • Earth, Wind & Fire – Greatest Hits
  • Electric Light Orchestra – Discovery
  • Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
  • Boz Scaggs – Silk Degrees

All are quite rare, and all sound great.

Released in 1977, The Stranger was the fifth studio album by Billy Joel, and his commercial breakthrough that made him a star.

The LP reached #2 on the U.S. charts and has sold more than ten million copies to date. gave The Stranger a 4 1/2 star review:

Billy Joel teamed with Phil Ramone, a famed engineer who had just scored his first producing hits with Art Garfunkel’s Breakaway and Paul Simon’s Still Crazy After All These Years for The Stranger, his follow-up to Turnstiles. Joel still favored big, sweeping melodies, but Ramone convinced him to streamline his arrangements and clean up the production. The results aren’t necessarily revelatory, since he covered so much ground on Turnstiles, but the commercialism of The Stranger is a bit of a surprise. … Joel rarely wrote a set of songs better than those on The Stranger, nor did he often deliver an album as consistently listenable.

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Country of origin: Japan
Size: 12″
Record Label: CBS
Catalog Number:
30 AP 1874
Year of Release: 1980
Format: Stereo
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Additional information

Weight 15 oz
Dimensions 12.4 × 12.4 × 0.25 in