MUSIC BETWEEN FRIENDS

Billy Joel
The Essential Billy Joel (Columbia, $25)

Hot on the heels of his all-instrumental release, Fantasies & Delusions: Music for Solo Piano (composed by Joel and performed by Richard Joo), this “essential” 36-track double-disc celebrates the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer’s work. The first CD traces Joel’s steps (and best stuff) as a young man saying goodbye to Hollywood, moving out, and living in Allentown. The second disc covers his later work including “I Go to Extremes” and “The River of Dreams.” A nice reminder of what the piano man has done and a teaser of what’s to come.

Tony Bennett
Playin’ With My Friends: Bennett Sings The Blues (RPM Records/Columbia, $19)

In his more than 50 years in the business, 75-year-old Bennett has made a lot of friends — a large number of whom appear on this new studio release. Joining the crooner on 15 classic blues songs are B.B. King, Natalie Cole, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Sheryl Crow, Diana Krall, and others. Basically, a representative from every style of music is on this album.

Creedence Clearwater Revival
Boxed Set (Fantasy, $95)

Formed in El Cerrito, California, in 1967 and disbanded five years later, the boys of CCR gave us a bunch of classic rock-and-roll tunes. Their boxed time has come in this six-disc package that includes early recordings from a pre-Creedence Tommy Fogerty and the Blue Velvets and the Golliwogs. Of course, all the stuff you love is here as well, from “Fortunate Son” to “Up Around the Bend” to “Susie Q.”