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The Late Movies: Happy Birthday, Billy Joel!

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Today the Piano Man turns 63. To celebrate, here are ten of his greatest hits (my favorites), arranged in chronological order. Looking back on it, it's stunning how many hit records Billy Joel released -- according to Wikipedia, his catalogue includes "13 studio albums, 5 live albums, 59 singles, and 11 compilation albums." Virtually all of the studio albums went Platinum or Multi-Platinum in the US, with his "Greatest Hits Volume I and II" (which were standard equipment for music listeners in the 80s) hitting 23x Multi-Platinum (that's over 23 million records sold) and 1977's "The Stranger" achieving rare Diamond Record (10x Platinum) status.

"Piano Man"

1973, but this performance is from 1975 (at 9 o'clock on a Saturday).

"New York State of Mind"

1976, performed in 1978. Featuring some artful smoking up top.

"Only the Good Die Young"

1977. This guy knows how to work a Long Island crowd, folks.

"You May Be Right"

1980. Getting funky in donegal tweed, jeans, and white shoes. Wow.

"Pressure"

1982. I remember this music video blowing my mind when I was a kid.

"Uptown Girl"

1983. Includes juggling wrenches.

"Tell Her About It"

1983. "BJ and The Affordables!"

"The Longest Time"

1984. Note the "Class of '59" banner behind him; Joel was born in 1949.

"A Matter of Trust"

1986. Joel on guitar, acting all Springsteeny!

"We Didn't Start the Fire"

1989. Memorizing the words to this (and trying to figure out what the heck he was talking about) was a fun pastime in school.

Share Your Favorites

With so many hits, I've left out a ton from this list. Share your favorites in the comments -- check YouTube, it's a goldmine of Billy Joel performances, including truly great stuff from the 70s and 80s.

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Animals
Australian Charity Releases Album of Cat-Themed Ballads to Promote Feline Welfare
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An Australian animal charity is helping save the nation’s kitties one torch song at a time, releasing a feline-focused musical album that educates pet owners about how to properly care for their cats.

Around 35,000 cats end up in pounds, shelters, and rescue programs every year in the Australian state of New South Wales, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). Microchipping and fixing cats, along with keeping closer tabs on them, could help reduce this number. To get this message out, the RSPCA’s New South Wales chapter created Cat Ballads: Music To Improve The Lives Of Cats.

The five-track recording is campy and fur-filled, with titles like "Desex Me Before I Do Something Crazy" and "Meow Meow." But songs like “I Need You” might tug the heartstrings of ailurophiles with lyrics like “I guess that’s goodbye then/but you’ve done this before/the window's wide open/and so’s the back door/you might think I’m independent/but you’d be wrong.” There's also a special version of the song that's specifically designed for cats’ ears, featuring purring, bird tweets, and other feline-friendly noises.

Together, the tunes remind us how vulnerable our kitties really are, and provide a timely reminder for cat owners to be responsible parents to their furry friends.

“The Cat Ballads campaign coincides with kitten season, which is when our shelters receive a significantly higher number of unwanted kittens as the seasons change,” Dr. Jade Norris, a veterinary scientist with the RSPCA, tells Mental Floss. “Desexing cats is a critical strategy to reduce unwanted kittens.”

Listen to a song from Cat Ballads below, and visit the project’s website for the full rundown.

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technology
ABBA Is Going on Tour—As Holograms
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Missed your chance to watch ABBA perform live at the peak of their popularity? You’re in luck: Fans will soon be able to see the group in concert in all their chart-topping, 1970s glory—or rather, they’ll be able to see their holograms. As Mashable reports, a virtual version of the Swedish pop band is getting ready to go on tour.

ABBA split up in 1982, and the band hasn't been on tour since. (Though they did get together for a surprise reunion performance in 2016.) All four members of ABBA are still alive, but apparently not up for reentering the concert circuit when they can earn money on a holographic tour from the comfort of their homes.

The musicians of ABBA have already had the necessary measurements taken to bring their digital selves to life. The final holograms will resemble the band in the late 1970s, with their images projected in front of physical performers. Part of the show will be played live, but the main vocals will be lifted from original ABBA records and recordings of their 1977 Australian tour.

ABBA won’t be the first musical act to perform via hologram. Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, and Dean Martin have all been revived using the technology, but this may be one of the first times computerized avatars are standing in for big-name performers who are still around. ABBA super-fans will find out if “SOS” still sounds as catchy from the mouths of holograms when the tour launches in 2019.

[h/t Mashable]

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