Al Stewart – Complete Studio Albums 1967-2009 (21 CD) + DVD Live at Musikladen

Al Stewart – Complete Studio Albums 1967-2009 (21 CD) + DVD Live at Musikladen
FLAC | Image (Cue, Log) + Scans ~7.59 Gb | Time: 19:05:05
DVD-5 | MPEG-2, NTSC, 720 x 480 (4:3), 8000 kbps | AC-3, 6ch, 448 kbps ~ 2.73 Gb | Time: 00:43:05
Genre: Rock, Soft Rock, Psychedelic, Folk Rock, Pop Rock, Singer-songwriter

A collection of 21 CD, which includes all the studio albums by Al Stewart at the moment, as well as a compilation of his best songs. Al Stewart (born Alastair Ian Stewart, 5 September 1945) is a Scottish singer-songwriter and folk-rock musician. Stewart came to stardom as part of the British folk revival in the 1960s and 1970s, and developed his own unique style of combining folk-rock songs with delicately woven tales of the great characters and events from history. He is best known for his hit 1976 single “Year of the Cat” from the platinum album Year of the Cat.

Glasgow-born Al Stewart has been an amazingly prolific and successful musician across 40 years and counting (as of 2009), working in a dizzying array of stylistic modes and musical genres — in other words, he’s had a real career, and has done it without concerning himself too much about trends and the public taste. He’s been influenced by several notables, to be sure, including his fellow Scot (and slightly younger contemporary) Donovan, as well as Ralph McTell, Bob Dylan, and John Lennon — but apart from a passing resemblance to Donovan vocally, he doesn’t sound quite like anyone else, and has achieved his greatest success across four decades with songs that are uniquely his and impossible to mistake. Stewart was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1945, and was swept up a decade later in the skiffle boom that took young Britons by storm — he decided to take up guitar after hearing Lonnie Donegan’s music. By the early ’60s, his family was living in Bournemouth, and he joined a local band, the Trappers, in 1963, and was already writing songs by that time. He was an admirer of the Beatles as their fame swept out of Liverpool and across the country, and even managed once to get backstage to meet John Lennon and play a few notes for him, at one of their Bournemouth performances. He studied guitar with Robert Fripp, no less, and later played keyboards in a band called Dave La Caz & the G Men, who managed to open for the Rolling Stones at the outset of the latter’s career in 1963. A true milestone for Stewart took place when Dave La Caz & the G Men recorded one of his songs, “When She Smiled,” in early 1964.

It was around this time that Stewart discovered the music of Bob Dylan, who was in the midst of his “protest” song phase — what he referred to as his finger-pointing songs. The mix of topicality, folk melodies, and the growing prominence of rock instrumentation that he heard in Dylan’s music inspired Stewart, who was now prepared to devote as much energy to composition as he had to performing. He went so far as to cut a demo single of Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’” backed with one of his originals, entitled “The Sky Will Fall Down.” Though nothing came of it directly, the demo and the song, and the tenor of the times, inspired Stewart to head to London in search of success. He failed to interest anyone in recording him or his topical song “Child of the Bomb” — the “Ban the [H] Bomb” movement in England being a hugely popular and urgent cause at the time — and retreated to performing for a time, as part of the burgeoning London folk scene, which was already home to such figures as Davy Graham, Martin Carthy, and Isla Cameron. He fell in with some of the younger figures on the scene, playing shows with Bert Jansch, Ralph McTell, and Sandy Denny, and also shared living quarters for a time with a visiting American named Paul Simon, from New York, who had already recorded an album, as well as numerous singles with a partner, and was immersing himself in the English folk scene.
His friendship with Simon led to Stewart’s first gig as a session musician on record, playing guitar on the song “Yellow Walls” from Jackson C. Frank’s album Blues Run the Game, which Simon produced. By this time, Stewart had also appeared on the BBC, and was playing better gigs and starting to be noticed. Finally, in 1966, he was signed to Decca Records to cut a single featuring an original of his, “The Elf,” on the A-side (the B-side, oddly enough, was his rendition of the recent Yardbirds LP cut “Turn into Earth” — even more curiously, in terms of coincidence, future Yardbirds guitarist Jimmy Page was one of the players on those sessions). Stewart’s single was not a success, though the composition has the distinction of being one of the earlier — if not the earliest — pop songs inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Stewart was undaunted, and he remained part of the thriving London music scene, and his efforts paid off in 1967 when CBS Records, the U.K. division of Columbia Records in America (which couldn’t use the “Columbia” name in England, as it was the property of a division of EMI) signed him to record his debut album, Bedsitter Images. The latter was a superb showcase for Stewart’s songwriting, but not for the sound he visualized for his music — heavily orchestrated and, in his eyes, grotesquely over-produced, he felt his voice and even his songs were lost amid the densely layered accompaniments. But the record generated a massive amount of publicity for him, and put Al Stewart on the pop music map as a contender, and someone worth watching and hearing.

By then, he was known to the music journals, and at his performances he could show off his songs his way (and one of his shows in 1968 featured accompaniment by no less than his former teacher Robert Fripp and several others who would figure large in a group called King Crimson a year or so later). In 1969 came a second album, Love Chronicles, whose epic title track broke ground among respectable recordings for its use of language (a colloquial term for intercourse) as well as running-time barriers, and included Fairport Convention among the backing musicians. Stewart’s writing had already showing a remarkable degree of growth from what were hardly modest beginnings, at least in terms of ambition — his songs were increasingly coming across as something akin to “sung” paintings, mixing topicality, a command of detail and imagery, and distinctive use of language. But with Zero She Flies he took a major step forward with the song “Manuscript,” which was his first to draw extensively from history, and also to incorporate sea images. These were elements that would all manifest themselves ever more strongly in his work across the decades to come. Following the release of Orange in 1972, he would turn away from the deeply personal songs and devote an increasing part of his music to sources out of history, plunging into such subject matter in the first person, as almost a musical precursor to Quantum Leap.
Stewart made the leap in October of 1973 with the release of Past, Present and Future, an LP’s worth of songs that would explore past lives (and the future by way of the past, on “Nostradamus”). The latter song and “Roads to Moscow” also gave him his first major exposure in America, where FM and college radio stations quickly picked up on both songs. Suddenly, from being all but unknown on the far side of the Atlantic, Stewart had a serious cult following on American college campuses, especially in the Northeast (where New York’s WNEW-FM radio gave all of Past, Present and Future, and especially the two songs in question, lots of airplay). He followed this up in the fall of 1974 with Modern Times, produced by Alan Parsons, which was thick with contemporary, historical, and literary references.
It would be a full year before his next album showed up, but when it did, that record completely altered the landscape under Stewart’s feet, and far beyond as well. Year of the Cat (1975) turned Al Stewart from an artist with a wide cult following at America’s colleges into a fixture on AM radio, the title song rising into the Top Ten in the U.S. and, ultimately, around most of the world. In the United States, in an effort to capitalize on his sudden fame — as not only “Year of the Cat” but “On the Border” also charted high — a double album of tracks from his four prior British LPs was issued. And in the fall of 1978, Time Passages, his newest album, was released to great success, including a Top Ten single for the title track. A year of touring to huge audiences around the world followed, all of it very strange when one considers how far removed from the dominant late-’70s sounds of punk, disco, and new wave Stewart’s music was. In the summer of 1980 came his next album, 24 Carrots, but neither it nor any of the singles pulled from it were ever able to repeat the success of those three prior LPs or their accompanying 45s. Indian Summer (1981), a mixed live and studio album, also failed to perform up to expectations.
Stewart, who had been a mainstay of Arista Records in America for the last three years of the 1970s, was dropped by that label soon after Indian Summer’s release. He didn’t disappear, however, either on record or in concert, and continued to tour and record. The much more overtly political album Russians & Americans (1984) and the lighter Last Days of the Century (1988) kept his name out there, and he also recorded another concert album, the all-acoustic Rhymes in Rooms (1992). And in an increasingly rare sort of gesture, in 1993 he released Famous Last Words, and album dedicated to the late Peter Wood, who had co-written “Year of the Cat.” He also continued to explore history in song with Between the Wars (1995), which dealt with events between 1918 and 1939. Stewart’s 21st century recordings include A Beach Full of Shells (2005) and Sparks of Ancient Light (2008). When he isn’t recording or touring, he keeps busy with his hobby of collecting fine, rare wines. His post-1980 work is less easy to find than compilations of his hits from the mid- to late ’70s, which are downright ubiquitous, and in 2007 his British CBS albums were released on CD in America through Collectors’ Choice. Stewart was also given the comprehensive box set treatment by EMI in 2005 with the five-CD set Just Yesterday.

Biography by Bruce Eder

Bedsitter Images (1967) Reissue 2007

Bedsitter Images unveiled a promising but tentative folk-rock singer/songwriter. Al Stewart’s songs already displayed his talent for observational storytelling, though at this point he was detailing ordinary lives of British people and autobiographical romance, rather than epic historical incidents. Most of the cuts used a full orchestra, and although the folk-baroque approach worked for some folk-rock artists of the era like Judy Collins, here it seemed ill-conceived. The orchestration was twee, which made the already precious songs seem yet twee-er; Stewart has subsequently expressed regret over the decision to use such production. His work would have sounded better with straightforward folk-rock arrangements, or even as solo acoustic tunes. Despite its faults, it’s fairly engaging, highlighted by the lengthy “Beleeka Doodle Day.” Not only does that track eliminate the orchestration, it’s also the best song on the album, with a characteristically haunting melody and more forceful, melancholy lyrics than those heard on most of the rest of the tracks.

Review by Richie Unterberger

01. Bed-Sitter Images 3:19
02. Swiss Cottage Manoeuvres 4:02
03. The Carmichaels 2:53
04. Scandanavian Girl 2:35
05. Pretty Golden Hair 3:40
06. Denise At 16 3:20
07. Samuel, Oh How You’ve Changed! 4:02
08. Cleave To Me 2:53
09. A Long Way Down From Stephanie 3:29
10. Ivich 4:27
11. Beleeka Doodle Day 7:00
12. Lover Man 2:35
13. Clifton In The Rain 2:48
14. Go Your Way 1:52
15. My Contemporaries 0:31

Love Chronicles (1969) Reissue 2007

Al Stewart’s second album is most renowned for the 18-minute title track, an autobiographical recount of different love affairs with guitar by Jimmy Page. That track was also quite controversial for its day in its use of the word “f*cking” at one point in the lyrics, though that’s not typical of the tone of the composition. It’s actually not the best of the six songs on the record, which saw Stewart wisely discard the orchestration of his debut in favor of fairly straight-ahead folk-rock backing. “Ballad of Mary Foster” is Stewart’s best early song, as a two-part suite neatly divided between brusque cynical commentary on a bourgeois English family and the introspective musings of the ravaged wife. That second part bears considerable similarity in melody and tempo, incidentally, to sections of the far more famous Stewart song “Roads to Moscow.” The rest of the album has additional solid vignettes in the standard gentle yet detached Stewart mold, the best of them being “Life and Life Only,” which exploits his knack for insistent, repetitive minor-keyed hooks.

Review by Richie Unterberger

Tracklist:
1. In Brooklyn 3:43
2. Old Compton Street Blues 4:26
3. The Ballad Of Mary Foster 8:01
4. Life And Life Only 5:50
5. You Should Have Listened To Al 3:03
6. Love Chronicles 18:04
7. Jackdaw 3:20
8. She Follows Her Own Rules 3:19
9. Fantasy 2:15

Zero She Flies (1970) Reissue 2007

Al Stewart’s third album wasn’t much different from the territory he had claimed, with reasonable success, on his prior effort, Love Chronicles. Narrative tales of romance and experience, sometimes third-person and sometimes autobiographical, set the mood, complemented by mild folk-rock arrangements and Stewart’s warm yet bemused voice. A few placid folk guitar instrumentals break up the involved, lengthy vocal tracks. The best cut is “Electric Los Angeles Sunset,” which puts Stewart’s eye for locale-based storytelling to more forceful use than it had ever been previously heard, detailing the grim side of the city rather than its glamorous one. “Manuscript” was also an important work in its focus upon past history and its effects on various characters, an approach that would within a few years become prevalent in Stewart’s work. Trevor Lucas and Gerry Conway of Fotheringay were among the backup players.

Review by Richie Unterberger

Tracklist:
01. My Enemies Have Sweet Voices 5:14
02. A Small Fruit Song 2:02
03. Gethsemane, Again 5:28
04. Burbling 3:20
05. Electric Los Angeles Sunset 3:48
06. Manuscript 4:46
07. Black Hill 1:22
08. Anna 1:48
09. Room of Roots 3:52
10. Zero She Flies 5:36
11. Stormy Night 3:30
12. News from Spain 6:05
13. Lyke-Wake Dirge 4:22

Orange (1972) Reissue 2007

This is a transitional Al Stewart album. After stretching the boundaries of song length and language with Love Chronicles, he was in a something of a holding pattern on Orange, without any obviously profound inspiration or moments of daring. “Songs Out of Clay,” however, does reveal the first signs of the mix of acoustic and electric guitar sounds that he would perfect on his next album, Past, Present and Future, two years later, while “The Fourth of May,” a six-minute personal story-song, gets something of the beat and the sound that Stewart would refine in achieving his subsequent success — he just needed subject matter other than busted relationships. Orange also introduced Tim Renwick, whose lead guitar would become central to the sound on Stewart’s subsequent albums. His singing, however, is still of a rather mournful and even monotonous nature, except on those two songs; he hadn’t yet found sufficient variety in his tone and delivery, and even the presence of Rick Wakeman’s elegant, classically based, arpeggio-laden piano accompaniments couldn’t rescue most of these songs. There’s also a pretty cool cover of Bob Dylan’s “I Don’t Believe You,” cut as a warm-up for the rest of the album.

Review by Bruce Eder

Tracklist:
01. You Don’t Even Know Me 4:00
02. Amsterdam 2:57
03. Songs Out Of Clay 4:17
04. The News From Spain 6:39
05. I Don’t Believe You 3:38
06. Once An Orange, Always An Orange 4:19
07. I’m Falling 4:29
08. Night Of The 4th Of July 6:29
09. Soho (Needless To Say) 4:01
10. Elvaston Place 2:53
11. It Doesn’t Matter Anymore 2:26

Past, Present, And Future (1973) Reissue 1992

As good as portions of it were, Orange was essentially a transitional effort, the necessary bridge to Past, Present & Future, the record where Al Stewart truly begins to discover his voice. This is largely through his decision to indulge his fascination with history and construct a concept album that begins with “Old Admirals” and ends with “Nostradamus” and his predictions for the future. A concept like this undoubtedly will strike prog warning bells in the minds of most listeners but, ironically, he has stripped back most of the prog trappings from Orange, settling into a haunting folk bed for these long, winding tales. If anything, this results in an album that is a bit too subdued, but even so, it’s apparent that Stewart has finally found his muse, focusing his songwriting and intent to a greater extent than ever before. Now, the key was to find the same sense of purpose in record-making — he didn’t quite get it here, but he would the next time around.

Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Tracklist:
1. Old Admirals 5:57
2. Warren Harding 2:41
3. Soho (Needless To Say) 3:56
4. The Last Day Of June 1934 4:47
5. Post World War Two Blues 4:18
6. Roads To Moscow 8:03
7. Terminal Eyes 3:24
8. Nostradamus 9:44

Modern Times (1975) Reissue 2007

Surely the title is a bit of an allusion to the Past, Present and Future of its predecessor, but Modern Times also brought Al Stewart into the present, establishing his classic sound of folky narratives and Lennonesque melodies, all wrapped up in a lush, layered production from Alan Parsons. Hearing this production makes it clear that this is what was missing from Past, since it gives epics like the title track a real sense of grandeur that makes their sentiments resonate strongly. But it’s not just the improvement in production that makes Modern Times the beginning of Stewart’s classic period — his songwriting has leapt up and met his ambitions, as it retains the historical sweep of his earlier material but melds it to a melodic sensibility that’s alternately comforting and haunting. This skill is apparent throughout Modern Times, and is married to a sound that is its equivalent, making this an exquisite pop-prog gem.

Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Tracklist:
01. Carol 4:25
02. Sirens of Titan 2:51
03. What’s going On? 4:05
04. Not the One 4:35
05. Next Time 4:25
06. Apple Cider Reconstitution 5:20
07. Dark and the Rolling Sea 5:30
08. Modern Times 8:19
09. Swallow Wind 3:23
10. Sense of Deja Vu 4:50
11. Willie the King 4:01

Year Of The Cat (1976) Reissue 2001

Al Stewart had found his voice on Past, Present & Future and found his sound on Modern Times. He then perfected it all on 1976′s Year of the Cat, arguably his masterpiece. There is no overarching theme here, as there was on its two immediate predecessors, but the impossible lushness of Alan Parsons’ production and Stewart’s evocative Continental narratives give the record a welcome feeling of cohesion that keeps the record enchanting as it moves from “Lord Grenville” to “Midas Shadow” to “Broadway Hotel,” before it ends with the haunting title track. Along the way, Stewart doesn’t dwell too deeply in any area, preferring to trace out mysteries with his evocative lyrical imagery and a spinning array of self-consciously sophisticated music, songs that evoke American and European folk and pop with a deliberate grace. This could be unbearably precious if it didn’t work so well. Stewart is detached from his music, but only in the sense that he gives this album a stylish elegance, and Parsons is his perfect foil, giving the music a rich, panoramic sweep that mimics Stewart’s globe-trotting songs. The result is a tremendous example of how good self-conscious progressive pop can be, given the right producer and songwriter — and if you’re a fan of either prog or pop and haven’t given Al Stewart much thought, prepare to be enchanted.

Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Tracklist:
01. Lord Grenville 5:03
02. On The Border 3:22
03. Midas Shadow 3:11
04. Sand In Your Shoes 3:05
05. If It Doesn’t Come Naturally, Leave It 4:32
06. Flying Sorcery 4:22
07. Broadway Hotel 3:58
08. One Stage Before 4:41
09. Year Of The Cat 6:49
10. On The Border (Live) 3:49
11. Belsize Blues 3:30
12. Story Of The Songs 9:43

Time Passages (1978) Reissue 1991

Year of the Cat brought Al Stewart a genuine worldwide smash with its title track, and for its successor, he did make a few concessions. These, however, were slight — just a slight increase of soft rock productions, an enhancement of the lushness that marked not only Year of the Cat but also Modern Times. These happened to be welcome adjustments to Stewart’s sound, since they increased the dreamy continental elegance at the core of his work. And that’s why Time Passages is the equal of Year of the Cat — it may be more streamlined, but the adjustments to his sound and the concessions to the mainstream just increase the soft grace of his eloquent historical pop epics. It’s possible to view this as too precious, because it is pitched at an audience who believes the common-day concerns of pop are piffle, but this is exceptionally well-crafted, from Stewart’s songs, where even three-minute songs seem like epics, to Alan Parsons’ cinematic arrangements and productions. This added concentration on the texture of the recording, ensuring that it was clean, spacious, and gentle, with a welcoming surface. Of course, this means that Time Passages can work very well as background music, but it also reveals much upon concentrated listening — enough to make it stand proudly next to Modern Times and Year of the Cat as one of Al Stewart’s very best albums.

Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Tracklist:
1. Time Passages 6:42
2. Valentina Way 4:04
3. Life In Dark Water 5:49
4. A Man For All Seasons 5:50
5. Almost Lucy 3:44
6. Palace of Versailles 5:20
7. Timeless Skies 3:36
8. Song on the Radio 6:22
9. End of the Day 3:11

24 Carrots (1980) Reissue 2007

The pun of the title of 24 Carrots — the first overt signal of humor Al Stewart has displayed in years, possibly ever — illustrates that a lot has changed since 1978′s Time Passages. The loosening of his wit is perhaps the most evident, but the most significant is the departure of producer Alan Parsons, who collaborated with Stewart on his mid-’70s triptych of masterpieces. In truth, 24 Carrots isn’t far removed from those high points, because he is indeed still writing at a remarkably consistent pace. No, this record isn’t quite at the high standard of the previous three albums, but it does have a number of brilliant moments, from the opening “Running Man” through the silly but effective “Mondo Sinistro” and the gorgeous “Midnight Rocks.” Though there are some songs that don’t quite click (something that did not happen on the aforementioned trio), overall the record coheres nicely, thanks not just to the uniform classiness of Stewart’s songs, but to his production with Chris Desmond. Although the production does hint at the antiseptic cleanliness that sank many of his latter-day recordings, here, it is just a perfect balance of audio precision and elegant studiocraft. Despite its occasional missteps, it still is a fine record, a fitting, wistful coda to Stewart’s classic period. [The 2007 Collectors' Choice Music reissue included three different bonus tracks than those found on the 1980 Razor & Tie edition.]

Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Tracklist:
01. Running Man 5:12
02. Midnight Rocks 3:56
03. Constantinople 4:42
04. Merlin’s Time 2:45
05. Mondo Sinistro 3:11
06. Murmansk Run_Ellis Island 7:15
07. Rocks in the Ocean 5:14
08. Paint by Numbers 5:31
09. Optical Illusion 3:31
10. Candy Came Back 3:45
11. The Ringing of Bells 4:15
12. Tonton Macoute 4:11

Live – Indian Summer (1981) Reissue 2007

Live/Indian Summer is the tenth album by Al Stewart, released in 1981. It is a double studio/live album, with side 1 tracks recorded at Evergreen Studios, Los Angeles between June-August 1981. Sides 2, 3 & 4 were recorded live at The Roxy, Los Angeles in April 1981. This was the second and last album Stewart performed with his band Shot in the Dark. This album was never released on CD until 2007, where previously, the five studio tracks were released as bonus tracks on 24 Carrots and the live tracks on the 1997 re-release, Live at the Roxy, Los Angeles 1981. The 2007 re-release includes all sixteen tracks on one compact disc.

Tracklist:
01. Here in Angola 4:40
02. Pandora 4:37
03. Indian Summer 3:34
04. Delia’s Gone 2:53
05. Princess Olivia 3:20
06. Running Man 4:44
07. Time Passages 6:16
08. Merlin’s Time 2:57
09. If It Doesn’t Come Naturally, Leave It 4:26
10. Roads to Moscow 7:53
11. Nostradamus 13:03
12. Soho (Needless to Say) 3:48
13. On the Border 4:31
14. Valentina Way 4:09
15. Clarence Frogman Henry 1:27
16. Year of the Cat 7:06

Russian And Americans (1984) Reissue 2007

Out of all of Al Stewart’s grandly ambitious albums, Russians & Americans is among the most problematic, since he takes an actual political position, which tends to hurt the flow of the music.

Review by Daevid Jehnzen

Tracklist:
01. The one that got away 4:02
02. Rumours of war 5:29
03. Night meeting 6:01
04. Accident on 3rd street 3:33
05. Strange girl 3:57
06. Russians & Americans 4:33
07. Cafe society 5:38
08. 1-2-3 3:14
09. The candidate 2:09
10. The gypsy and the rose 4:19
11. Lori don’t go right now 4:31
12. In red square 4:06
13. How does it happen 3:06
14. The world according to garp 3:12

Last Days Of The Century (1988) Reissue 1997

Al Stewart was prevented from releasing new music for four years in the mid-’80s, and when he did return, it was with the muddled Last Days of the Century, which failed to capture the excitement of his earlier work.

Review by Daevid Jehnzen

Tracklist:
01. Prelude 1:11
02. Last days of the century 6:08
03. Real and unreal 3:35
04. King of Portugal 4:25
05. Red toupee 3:39
06. Where are they now? 5:58
07. Bad reputation 4:58
08. Josephine Baker 4:14
09. License to steal 3:55
10. Fields of France 2:55
11. Antarctica 4:08
12. Ghostly horses of the plain 2:31
13. Helen and Cassandra 4:44

Al Stewart Live – featuring Peter White – Rhymes In Rooms (1992)

Sometimes the most unexpected jewels can be crystallized in adversity — this album was a case in point, the indirect result of the financial collapse of Enigma Records, to which Al Stewart had been signed, in 1990. In tandem with Peter White, Stewart went out on the road, and the resulting 11-song album was duly issued on EMI (which was still Stewart’s label, outside of the United States). There actually wasn’t any shortage of live Al Stewart material in the can, but Rhymes in Rooms allowed him to deliver fresh reinterpretations of his best-known songs, this time out all-acoustic and in a more intimate setting than his earlier live recordings — with a full band — had permitted. The results are pleasing and never repetitive, even for those who are extremely familiar with the original versions. Stewart’s and White’s extended intros and vamps on the most familiar fare here are delightful, and the intimacy and immediacy of the setting and recording allow Stewart to add some new inflections and directions to the vintage material, which goes back more than 20 years in his career.

Review by Bruce Eder

Tracklist:
1. Flying Sorcery – 4:30
2. Soho (Needless to Say) – 3:54
3. Time Passages – 5:42
4. Josephine Baker – 4:05
5. On the Border – 5:09
6. Nostradamus – 10:18
7. Fields of France – 4:09
8. Clifton in the Rain/Small Fruit Song – 5:01
9. Broadway Hotel – 4:20
10. Leave It – 5:33
11.Year of the Cat – 6:35

The Best Of Al Stewart – Songs From The Radio (1992)

Eleven songs from Al Stewart’s albums Past, Present and Future (1974) through Live Indian Summer (1981), remastered in 1992, which gives it more than decent sound. “Roads to Moscow” is drawn from Past, Present and Future (the inlay card erroneously lists Live Indian Summer), and “Year of the Cat” is the hit studio version, but the producers have chosen live versions of “Nostradamus” (which emphasizes its Tommy-like central riff) and “On the Border,” rather than their superior originals, probably to retain the value of the original albums. Includes full lyrics (but no instrumental credits) and notes by David Dasch, which may explain too much, removing the mystery from some of the material.

Review by Bruce Eder

Tracklist:
1. Time Passages – 6:39
2. Running Man – 4:18
3. Delia’s Gone – 2:52
4. Roads To Moscow – 7:58
5. Song On The Radio – 6:22
6. Midnight Rocks – 3:56
7. Lord Grenville – 5:01
8. Merlin’s Time – 2:42
9. Nostradamus – Part One / The World Goes To Riyadh / Nostradamus – Part Two (Live Versions) – 13:06
10. On The Border (Live Version) – 4:33
11. Year Of The Year Cat -6:42

Famous Last Words (1993) Reissue 2006

Al Stewart just never misses! There is a very upbeat feel to this entire CD; it’s refreshingly energizing (in contrast to Al’s more thought-provoking productions, even when the topic is more serious than silly. The charmingly effusive “Feel Like” is a sets the cheery mood for the album. “Don’t Forget Me” is a lovely, unexpectedly romantic tune, compelling me to remember my own partings, inevitably wiping away a tear as the song fades. “Genie on a Table Top” never fails to make me laugh with its sometimes outrageous similes (a simulated what????). “Trains” is evocative and haunting. And it’s impossible not to play “Charlotte Corday” over and over again, a gentle little gem, beautifully performed.

Review by A Customer, Amazon

Tracklist:
01. Feel like 3:38
02. Angel of mercy 3:24
03. Don’t forget me 5:24
04. Peter on the white sea 3:38
05. Genie on a table top 3:49
06. Trespasser 4:48
07. Trains 8:18
08. Necromancer 3:41
09. Charlotte corday 3:49
10. Hipposong 1:53
11. Night rolls in 4:39
12. In the dark 4:58
13. Blow your mansion down 4:56
14. Mixed blessing 2:54

Between The Wars (1995)

Al Stewart is the single best folk songwriter of tales of long ago and far away. He has a way with words and stories that transcends labels. His skills as a songwriter and storyteller have been far too long overlooked. “Between the Wars” is the beautiful melding of musical styles, great guitar playing and tales of events between WWI and WWII. No one but Al could pull it off. He has made a truly exceptional recording. His accompianists, as tasteful as ever, take his songs to new heights and lend so much to each compostition.
Al Stewart writes with such intelligence that the listener yearns to learn more about the subjects. In concert, he usually provides glimpses into the creation of his songs, which is very entertaining. Of course, those few people who know that this man has continued to make incredible music after his fling with “Year of the Cat” fame, are well aware of his estimitable catalogue of great music. “Between the Wars” ranks up there with his very best.

Review by Vinzo, Amazon

Tracklist:
01. Night Train to Munich 4:26
02. The Age of Rhythm 4:00
03. Sampan 3:38
04. Lindy Comes to Town 4:24
05. Three Mules 5:37
06. A League of Notions 4:18
07. Life Between the Wars 2:47
08. Betty Boop’s Birthday 2:05
09. Marion the Chbtelaine 3:41
10. Joe the Georgian 3:31
11. Always the Cause 3:18
12. Laughing into 1939 4:16
13. The Black Danube 2:48

Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time (1996)

Rare limited edition release for fun club. Collection Of Demos And Outtakes.

Tracklist:
1. Where Are They Now?
2. Fields of France
3. Soho (Needless to Say)
4. In Red Square
5. A Sense of Deja Vu
6. How Does It Happen
7. The Coldest Winter in Memory
8. Candy Came Cack
9. Jackdaw
10. The Bear Farmers of Birnam
11. In the Dark
12. Blow Your Mansion Down
13. Willie the King
14. Merry Monks
15. Ghostly Horses of the Plain
16. Mixed Blessing

Down in the Cellar (2000) Reissue 2007

Down in the Cellar is the sixteenth album by Al Stewart. Released in 2000 in Europe by EMI, it was to have been issued in the United States through the independent label, Miramar, but shortly after making the deal for distribution, Miramar filed for bankruptcy putting the album in legal limbo. Consequently it was not released in the U.S. until 2007 by Collectables Records. Its primary theme is that of wine, and almost all the songs on the album refer to various varieties of the alcoholic beverage, including Chardonnay and Shiraz.

Tracklist:
01. Waiting for Margaux 4:36
02. Tasting History 4:06
03. Down in the Cellars 3:10
04. Turning It into Water 4:37
05. Soho 4:01
06. The Night that the Band Got the Wine 6:09
07. Millie Brown 2:40
08. Under a Winestained Moon 3:34
09. Franklin’s Table 4:24
10. House of Clocks 3:00
11. Sergio 3:21
12. Toutes les Etrolles 2:12
13. The Shiraz Shuffle 1:59
14. Dark Side 2:53
15. Belsize Blues 4:53

A Beach Full Of Shells (2005)

Al Stewart has always had a distinctive vocal style — making his radio hits like “Year of the Cat” immediately recognizable — while also possessing a knack for writing tuneful pop songs. A Beach Full of Shells qualifies as his first U.S. release since 1995, and while it’s been some time since the singer conquered the pop charts, both his vocal style and craftsmanship remains intact. It would be a mistake, however, to view Stewart as no more than the maker of pop confections specially designed for a mass radio audience. The cover of A Beach Full of Shells offers the first clue of a playful mind that enjoys the weight of words: there are two types of shells on the beach, one from the sea, the other for use in a gun. The complexity of his approach is best experienced on “Somewhere in England 1915,” a lengthy song (nearly seven minutes) with shifting dream imagery. Weaving fantasy with brief references to World War I, the narrator eventually wakes up 90 years later to find himself on the edge — the song seems to suggest — of yet another war. Stewart accomplishes all of this without ever being obvious, giving the song a subtle quality as it reveals its surprises to the listener. This, however, is only one of many moods on A Beach Full of Shells. “Katherine of Oregon” is as light as air, a pleasant, flowing ballad with nice acoustic guitar and light percussion, while “Mona Lisa Talking” shifts through a number of intriguing chord changes to offer a little common sense advice. A Beach Full of Shells probably doesn’t spell Stewart’s return to the Top 40, but it is a solid effort that will certainly please fans.

Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

Tracklist:
01. The Immelman Turn 4:40
02. Mr.Lear 3:00
03. Royal Courtship 4:11
04. Rain Barrel 4:00
05. Somewhere In England 1915 6:56
06. Katherine Of Oregon 3:07
07. Mona Lisa Talking 4:26
08. Class Of ’58 4:11
09. Out In The Snow 2:52
10. My Egyptian Couch 2:18
11. Gina In The Kings Road 3:49
12. Beacon Street 2:20
13. Anniversary 2:53

Sparks of Ancient Light (2008)

Though it was released in 2008, Sparks of Ancient Light sounds very much like a ’70s Al Stewart record that happens to be lacking the more elaborate features of ’70s rock music production. And that’s a good thing, allowing what have always been Stewart’s principal strengths — pleasant haunting melodies, mellifluous vocals, accomplished folk guitar work, and literate, historical-minded lyrics — to stand at the forefront, undiminished by extraneous arrangements. With the passing of years, Stewart’s songwriting became increasingly history-focused, and that’s quite evident from the songs on this record, which address topics and eras rarely dealt with in pop music. As just a partial sampling, there are looks at the innocence of the Eisenhower years, the fall of the Shah of Iran, and Elvis Presley’s vision of Stalin in the clouds (a real-life incident, not a songwriter’s fantasy). There’s even an ode to early 20th-century U.S. president William McKinley. Several of the songs not sparked by specific historical incidents are imbued with images of wandering, seafaring, and nostalgia (though from a third-person character sketch perspective), though the opening line of “Silver Kettle” (“and in the last days of the world of plastic records”) indicates it’s actually set in recent times. The production and arrangements by Laurence Juber (who also plays guitar on the album) are straightforward, clear, and tasteful on this quite respectable recording by a veteran singer/songwriter.

Review by Richie Unterberger

Tracklist:
01. Lord Salisbury 3:28
02. (A Child’s View of) The Eisenhower Years 3:13
03. The Ear of the Night 3:08
04. Hanno the Navigator 4:17
05. Shah of Shahs 5:05
06. Angry Bird 2:45
07. The Loneliest Place on the Map 3:33
08. Sleepwalking 4:32
09. Football Hero 5:39
10. Elvis at the Wheel 3:10
11. Silver Kettle 3:58
12. Like William McKinley 4:16

Uncorked – Al Stewart Live with Dave Nachmanoff (2009)

This live recording is something of a surprise — make that a shock, in the most positive way — appearing 45 years into Al Stewart’s professional career. From the opening notes of a medley of “Last Days of the Century” and “Constantinople,” Stewart — in partnership with guitarist/singer Dave Nachmanoff (who also produced this record) — launches into a set with the kind of energy and enthusiasm one would more easily expect from a twenty-something neophyte than a sixty-something veteran. And the energy level never slackens, nor does the virtuosity — the teamed acoustic guitars ripple with exquisite textures, across old songs imparted with new permutations, while the new songs are more than good enough to stand next to such fare as “Bedsitter Images,” “Carol” (which gets a virtuoso guitar treatment here that makes it worth the price of the CD by itself), “Running Man” and “Old Admirals.” Some of the new material, most notably “Coldest Winter,” refers obliquely to vintage Stewart songs, but all of it is consistently fascinating in its own terms and imagery — and one song, “Princess Olivia,” manages to incorporate a breezy acoustic guitar vamp to the “Ode to Joy” theme from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 that works perfectly in the exuberant context of the song, one of the most delightfully, uninhibitedly joyous of Stewart’s career, and one that could have made a killer single in a different era, when there were singles to sell by artists like Stewart. This album also is decidedly different from other Stewart live recordings, of which there are many from across his career — he has avoided including here any of his most familiar fare; there is no “Year of the Cat,” “Roads to Moscow,” or “Nostradamus”; only solid album fare and core repertory, a survey of a lot of the best of his material that wasn’t over-exposed on the radio. In that regard, it’s a special treat for longtime fans, but it’s also a great way for the uninitiated to discover Stewart’s work beyond the obvious hits.

Review by Bruce Eder

Tracklist:
1. “Last Days of the Century / Constantinople / Last Days” – 7:23
2. “Coldest Winter” – 5:56
3. “Warren Harding” – 3:10
4. “News From Spain” – 5:59
5. “Bedsitter Images” – 4:14
6. “Midas Shadow” – 3:53
7. “Running Man” – 4:37
8. “Palace of Versailles” – 4:29
9. “Auctioning Dave (Story)” – 1:11
10. “Princess Olivia” -2:58
11. “Life In Dark Water” – 5:03
12. “Carol” – 4:59
13. “Old Admirals” / [hidden story] – 8:21

Al Stewart – Live at Musikladen (1979)

DVD-5 | MPEG-2, NTSC, 720 x 480 (4:3), 8000 kbps | AC-3, 6ch, 448 kbps ~ 2.73 Gb | Time: 00:43:05

Capturing American radio airwaves with his stunning acoustic masterpieces, “The Year of the Cat” and Time Passages”, Al Stewart is one of music’s most accomplished and underrated six string troubadours. Heavily influenced by Bob Dylan, Stewart’s silky sweet voice and intricate songcraft is a remarkable testament to his prodigious talent. This MusikLaden Extra includes such Stewart hits as On The Border, Time Passages, Year of the Cat, So Ho (Needless To Say), Palace of Versailles, Valentina Way and Song On The Radio.

Tracklist:
01. On The Border
02. So Ho (Needless To Say)
03. Time Passages
04. Palace of Versailles
05. Valentina Way
06. Year of the Cat
07. Song On The Radio


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