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Al Stewart: Greatest Hits

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Album Review

Over the years, there have been plenty of Al Stewart collections, most featuring the same five or six songs, giving the impression that he's an easy artist to compile. That, however, isn't quite the case. Most of these collections are haphazardly assembled, focusing either on his early elaborate historical story songs or his lush productions of the late '70s and early '80s, choosing songs that were not necessarily hits and not necessarily good showcases for his idiosyncratic gifts. Despite its nondescript (and misleading) title and its cover art, which bewilderingly mimics the cover of Year of the Cat, Rhino's 2004 collection Greatest Hits is the first to truly to capture Stewart at his best, from his baroque British folk-rock in the late '60s to his soft rock hits a decade later. While all his American hits are here, this is more of a "best of" than a hits compilation, since it doesn't follow the charts and zeroes in on songs that capture his precious, sighing, sophisticated, lightly psychedelic and elaborately produced progressive folk-pop. It bypasses such dirges as "Nostradamus," which often appears on Stewart comps even if it's a bore, and includes such gems as the swinging '60s side "Bedsitter Images," "Electric Los Angeles Sunset," the wonderful "You Don't Even Know Me" (from Orange, one of his finest albums but one of the most overlooked), and "Carol" before settling into the familiar hits — "Year of the Cat," "Lord Grenville," "On the Border," "Song on the Radio," "Time Passages," "Midnight Rocks" — that all sound better here than on other hits collections because the context is right. Year of the Cat and Time Passages remain noteworthy albums in their own right, as do Orange and 24 Carrots, but as a career overview and introduction, this Greatest Hits is nearly perfect.

Customer Reviews

There are definitally more songs than this!!!

Where is Laughing into 1939 and Helen and Cassandra?? those are two of his best-and none of the songs fromn the new album are on here.

He is still as magnificent as ever!!

Al Stewart was always my hero when I was 12 in 1977; His music and lyrics so far removed of the mainstay of that era, so unique and thought evoking. I, a musician to be (in the 80's and since) was greatly inspired by Al Stewart both in my writing and style. I was fortunate enough to catch Al Stewart in concert in St. Louis Missouri in October 2010. I went in having no idea what the presentation or format would be. I was surprised at this unplugged arrangement with a fantastic guitarist named Dave Nachmanoff on stage with him (just the 2 of them until the 2nd set when they brought on a bassist). The performance was outstanding, everyone loved it and was entranced by the music of these two gentlemen. Most of the songs I'd never heard but Al admitted on stage he wanted it that way. I bought the cd "Uncorked-Al Stewart Live with Dave Nachmanoff" after the show, which I was fortunate enough to be first in line to get Al's autograph when I blurted out like I was 12 again "you are a hero and have been my hero ever since I was 12" he politely replied " Hero? well that might be exaggerating it a bit". He was very welcoming and unpretentious. He autographed my cd and it stayed in my cd player ever since. I listened to it over and over again and became more familiar with the songs- outstanding work. If that ever is available on here you should get it; If they ever come to concert near you go- you will be mesmerized too. A true great poet, musician and artist of our time. Paul Schaffrin

You Don't Even Know!

I wonder where the found the critic for the iTunes review? He/She obviously doesn't have much of a clue regarding Al Stewart. This paltry list of Al's songs is not a bad starting place but it's really only scratching the surface of all the great music he's created over the past 40 years. If you do like this "sampler" and want to know more, simply pick-up any of his complete albums from the mid-70's onward and I don't think you'd be disappointed in any of them. His two most recent albums (A Beach Full of Shells and Sparks of Ancient Light) both show that his talent remains unique and something to treasure.

Biography

Born: September 5, 1945 in Greenock, Scotland

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Scottish singer/songwriter Al Stewart has been an amazingly prolific and successful musician across 50 years, 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...
Full Bio