The first fully compiled collection of songs from Joel came in the form of a self-made cassette tape under the moniker, "Mr. Moor". It was called, The Formative Years. Intended for release in 1999 the first physical copy didn't surface until mid-2000 after several revisions to the artwork.
Musically the album was made up mostly of 1-take recordings of Joel improvising instrumentals or guitar songs w/ improvised lyrics or found sound pieces with hidden messages. He later defined his production style as the "hit record and go" method. For the most part these songs were recorded with a single track recorder of some kind, either a conference room dictaphone type or a Radio Shack type shoebox machine. A couple tracks recorded at Rosebank where he first encountered a Tascam 4-track owned by one of his roomates were added in the final stages of compilation.
The songs in this collection are of a young kid seemingly searching for his voice and perspective in a sometimes painfully unadulterated manner. This purity of intent creates a raw and naively unpretentious almost isolated and uninfluenced atmosphere; a kind of mood or sense of place that would later become a kind of signature found in nearly everything Joel would go on to produce.