The Curious Case of Billy Joel's Greatest Hits, Volume I & Volume II


Thanks so much to the community as I did my initial contributions. I learned a lot about the data relationships and did my best to link tracks to their source. Not necessarily an arduous process but it was a lengthy one compared to the seconds it takes to reap the benefits through MusicBrainz Picard. So I raise this topic not about a single release in the title, but the large dataset. I was going back through my library doing spot checks and updates when I hit a major discrepancy.

When I loaded up Billy Joel’s release from a URL I’d saved back in 2018, things had radically changed. Looking at this overview that might not seem to be the case:

Picard Overview

But each one of those light pink titles has a major difference in track length, essentially showing the version I have includes LP rather than Single edits:

Picard Overview

You can see this is the most likely case by searching this example:

Picard Overview

I own the CD but its in storage somewhere, I only have the version I bought from Amazon in 2008. You can see the differences from the version I used back in 2018. I understand the track length is tan colored as there are vagaries for many recordings but that’s usually a couple of seconds, not half a minute or more.

I went through a number of alternate releases on MusicBrainz and Discogs and could not find a single one with the full version of Say Goodbye to Hollywood. I went back to Amazon and downloaded a fresh copy and streamed my purchased version and they all were the non-single edit used on apparently every release but Amazon’s.

What is all this interminable blather about? Does any of this matter? So that’s why I’m here. In terms of day-to-day if I want to listen to My Life, the credits don’t change (except when they do because of additional musicians from the cut parts or a different editor, etc.) and I can always search for all version of a song I have and choose what to play based on length. But there’s something, I don’t know, “pure”, about linking a song from a compilation back to it’s source. If I were to create a new release would I attribute it to Amazon and link to the proper edits of Captain Jack, Say Goodby to Hollywood, Just the Way You Ate, My Life, Big Shot and Pressure? For such a huge seller and no-doubt big digital release I can find no discussion online of this version’s significant changes in recordings used.

Sorry for the rant!

Edit: Added links to each image as I didn’t expect this forum not to link the images automatically. Since they are fairly large PNGs I though hosting them myself would be easier, should I have uploaded them instead?


Yes! With a release annotation saying how it differs from the other versions, and probably a disambiguation saying ‘Amazon’.

Sounds like you’ve found one of the great side effects of MusicBrainz editing - getting neck deep into weirdness/distributor laziness that nobody else has noticed or looked into properly (@IvanDobsky will enjoy this case I’m sure!)

You can compare, here’s one of yours uploaded natively with the forum software image function:

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if it might help, I’ve ended up with two CD versions of this release to compare together/against, don’t know how similar they are to each other though, (save for the damaged, bubbly double jewel case on one of them… lol)

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I’d be curious but I made sure to check the releases and all of them have Disc IDs. Is there an equivalent for digital releases? Would AcouticID help here?

Is that something like this alternate version? Funny that the note on that is to a track whose length matches that of the Amazon release but all the other tracks don’t. :crazy_face:

That’s a good example - in your case you know the actual source so you can have a shorter disambiguation imo.

For the annotation I would say put in all the information you’ve got, future editors will enjoy digging in.

I’ve been trying to move away from putting platform names in disambiguation comments (and have occasionally advised others to do the same):

  • It can be confusing if/when Amazon makes changes to the version that they’re offering or offers additional versions (e.g. for different markets).
  • It can create confusion for people tagging their music collections: if they have an identical-seeming version that they downloaded from (say) Qobuz, should they still match it to the release with an “Amazon” disambiguation?
  • I fear that it steers new editors toward erroneously thinking that a separate release ought to be created for each platform.

My preference is to instead describe the actual new-release-worthy difference(s) in the disambiguation, e.g. “with longer/full versions of ‘My Life’, ‘Big Shot’, etc.”

Curious to hear others’ thoughts.


I would still have ‘Amazon’ in any case, as if you don’t have a Amazon digital download it def won’t match (based on the info in this thread) but adding more details can’t hurt I suppose.

e.g. ‘Amazon version with some longer songs’

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