The Stranger is the fifth studio album by American singer-songwriter Billy Joel, released on September 29, 1977, by Columbia Records. While his four previous albums had been moderately successful, The Stranger became Joel's true critical and commercial breakthrough, spending six weeks at #2 on the U.S. album charts. Considered his magnum opus, it remains his best-selling non-compilation album to date, and was ranked number 70 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
The Stranger is often considered Orson Welles' most "traditional" Hollywood-style directorial effort. Welles plays a college professor named Charles Rankin, who lives in a pastoral Connecticut town with his lovely wife Mary (Loretta Young). One afternoon, an extremely nervous German gentleman named Meineke (Konstantin Shayne) arrives in town. Professor Rankin seems disturbed–but not unduly so–by Meineke's presence. He invites the stranger for a walk in the woods, and as they journey farther and farther away from the center of town, we learn that kindly professor Rankin is actually notorious Nazi war criminal Franz Kindler. Conscience-stricken by his own genocidal wartime activities, Meineke has come to town to beg his ex-superior Kindler to give himself up.
Since Marc Bolan's own label issued its first greatest-hits package back in 1973, there has been no shortage of collections rounding up the peerless sequence of 18 singles (some with multiple B-sides) released between January 1972 and Bolan's death in September 1977. Indeed, this set was itself just a few months old when its contents were redistributed across two box sets' worth of CD singles, each one replicating the original U.K. 45. As a simple one-stop chronological gathering of the Bolan jukebox at its born-to-boogie best, however, this two-disc package is hard to beat. In common with the two single-disc collections that it supersedes, the discs are divided neatly between A-sides (disc one) and B-sides…
Taking the identity of a dead postal inspector found on the trail, a stranger rides into a small western town and finds himself in the middle of a stagecoach robbery perpetrated by a gang of twenty ruthless desperados. Finding out the object of the heist was not a strongbox as it seemed but a solid gold stagecoach, he enlists the aid of a down-and-out old preacher and tracks down the dangerous gang and their unsuspected ally.