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12 Gardens Liveis worth the cost just for Billy Joel's still-robust renditions of "My Life," "Only the Good Die Young," "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)," and "Big Shot"--time off has not taken a toll on the piano man's pipes, and his playing remains on the right side of rock critics' expectations--but the big surprise here are the sleeper hits; by rights, they should sink like stones amid a sea of universally loved signatures. Instead they shimmer brightly, landing on ears like undervalued gems. "Goodnight Saigon," "Zanzibar," "Laura," and "Miami 2017" are recognizable titles only to the type of wild-eyed Billy Joel fan liable to throw her bra onstage, but they linger, pleasingly, past such late-career chart-climbers as "The River of Dreams" and "We Didn't Start the Fire." Woven around "New York State of Mind" and "Allentown," they serve to remind any student of pop why Joel is a worthy statesman. For those who needed no reminding, pleasant surprises of a different sort await: the double disc is home to two hidden tracks. On disc one, a rocked-up version of "A Room of Our Own" returns the entertainer to the Madison Square Garden stage, where he is duly howled over. And on disc two, after delivering a goosebump-raising rendition of "And So it Goes" that surely would have sufficed as a memorable closer to a monumental gig, he busts back out with "It's Still Rock & Roll to Me." Those who thought he forgot to include it on the set list should revisit "Keeping the Faith."--Tammy La Gorce
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Label:  Sony
ArtistBilly Joel
Release Date:  June 13, 2006
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12 Gardens: Live (2CD)
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