As a long time Al Stewart fan I could not wait to listen to this CD. When it arrived, the hundred other projects that I am working on immediately got put on hold. In seconds I had the package torn open and the CD on the player.

Uncorked will no doubt be a huge hit with Al’s fan base. There is no new material, Uncorked is a delightful trip down memory lane. Al Stewart has been playing regularly with Dave Nachmanoff for some time, and Dave has clearly connected with Al’s playing style.

Although this album was recorded live, the audio quality is exceptional.

I mentioned this being a trip down memory lane, well just how far? All the way back to the title track of his first album Bedsitter Images. I was a little surprised by the inclusion of this track. I say that based on a conversation I had with Al a couple of years ago after posting a series of reviews of the 13 albums that had been digitally remastered and re-released where he openly admitted that he was not very happy with his first three or four albums. I mentioned this to a publicist and he assures me that both Bedsitter Images and more recently the delightful Clifton In The Rain are now fairly frequently part of the play list. For those of you not familiar with Bedsitter Images, here is a video shot earlier this year while Al and Dave were touring Canada.

Al Stewart’s strength is most certainly in his song writing, there are few people that can compare to his depth of story telling. Actually, here is a little piece of Al trivia, for a period of time in the late 60’s Al Stewart and Paul Simon were room mates. Boy, just think of the direction that they could have headed in by collaboration.

Uncorked is a well selected play list, it is by no means a ‘greatest hits’, you will not find the platinum selling Year Of The Cat, a song that is a story by itself, but I feel I should share it anyway. Al was touring in the U.S. When Year Of The Cat was released, it actually received a luke warm response in his native England, but the U.S. Audiences loved it, he watched it rocket its way up the billboard charts, and overnight he was a household name. To quote Al, “I decided to keep touring the U.S. and I still am!”

What you will find on Uncorked, are some of Al’s very finest compositions like The News From Spain which is another early work, the slightly rock oriented Running Man, and the delightful Carol, again a very early composition. The set is rounded off with the iconic track Old Admirals.

I am a huge fan of live albums, somehow the music is so much more infectious than the studio versions, you get to hear the real song, not some over produced and homogenized sound. Actually a great example of the difference can be found in the track Bedsitter Images, in the original studio version an orchestra is pulled in for a couple of sections, in the new live version these are played solely with two acoustic guitars, and it is done with flair!

Al Stewart is a musician who constantly moves forward, that can be seen in his last two albums Sparks Of Ancient Light and Beach Full Of Shells, but sometimes it is good to dip into the song catalog of yesteryear, and that is what you will find with Uncorked. With almost 20 albums to his credit Al Stewart has a large song catalog to pull from.

He is currently touring with Dave Nachmanoff, if you get the opportunity to see him live, do it. Al is a great live performer. And if you have the opportunity to talk to either Al or Dave ask them what happens in Meridian Mississippi?

Uncorked is a great album, by a great pair of musicians. You can order your copy from Amazon or through Dave Nachmanoff’s web site.

Simon Barrett

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