There are not many musicians that make it to the 40 year mark. Actually Al is at the 42 year mark, with his first foray into the recording world in 1967 with the release of ‘Bed-sitter Images’. Over twenty albums later, this iconoclast of the music world is still going strong. When I saw the press release that Collectors’ Choice Music had re-mastered 13 of his Albums, and some are on CD for the first time, oh, and there are added bonus tracks! To say the least I was salivating at the prospect of reviewing them.

Al Stewart is a wonderful musician, and a great wordsmith, his style is unique, and very engaging. A lot of people view him as just  ‘The Year Of The Cat’ guy, and while that was a very good song, there is so much more depth to Al Stewart than just that one song.

Over the next few days I will be posting a series of reviews. I view Al as having three distinct phases, the ‘Just Al and a guitar’, ‘the big sweeping sagas’, and the rest!

Oh, and for you Al Stewart fans, he has agreed to an interview when I am done. So you will want to keep tuned for this series.

I have enjoyed Al Stewart from the first time I saw him in 1971, at the Chelmsford music festival, I was only 16 and somehow I had persuaded my parents that it was OK for me to hitch hike over 100 miles, and camp out with a bunch of hippies for the weekend. Could you imagine that happening today? I know damn well I would not have let either of my kids do that when they were that age. But, somehow times were different then, life was safer, people were nicer, and who ever met a bad hippie?

Al played a great set including the marathon 18 minutes Love Chronicles, which he claimed was going to be the last time he was going to ever perform this song live. So Al, if you read this prior to our interview, you now know one of the questions!

Back in those days it was just Al, a stool, and his trusty guitar. With no frills, and not much banter he would launch into an hour long set, and a very good set it would be.

I am really looking forward to re-listening to these CD’s, and to chronicle the growth, from humble troubadour to global superstar.

Simon Barrett




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