Billy Joel – The Stranger rare Japan Mastersound LP with obi


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

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

Note: This copy is unusual; while every copy we’ve previously had said “Half Speed Mastered” on both the obi and the label, this one says, “Digital Mastering” on the obi but says “Half Speed Mastered” on the label.

This copy appears to be a different mastering from the copy in our own collection that says “Half Speed Mastered” on both the obi and the disc, as the stamper numbers are significantly different.  We suspect that this copy is indeed digitally remastered to bring it in line with the rest of the Mastersound catalog, almost all of which were digital remastered LPs.

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 still in the original shrink wrap and is M-, but there’s trace corner wear at the mouth.  The obi is M-.  There is a hype sticker attached to the shrink wrap.

The inner sleeves are M-.  The lyric insert and booklet are M-.

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.

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
  • 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
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