Rediscover Al Stewart

(PR) If all you know about Al Stewart is “Year of the Cat,” you’re missing the best parts of Al Stewart’s vaster-than-imagined body of work. Many believe that if weren’t for the pop leanings of his one huge American hit, and its follow up, “Time Passages,” Stewart might have been widely perceived as the deep and provocative writer he was, a folk artist with a fondness for historical subjects. Stewart had taken the old folk-song tradition of singing about real events, and producing contemporary songs in that style.

On June 22, Collectors’ Choice Music will release 13 of Stewart’s 16 CDs, curated by Stewart expert Thane Tierney with access to the artist’s private archives. Long underappreciated on these shores, these reissues may change that.

The following 13 albums comprise Collectors’ Choice Music’s Al Stewart rollout:

• Bedsitter Images: This is Al’s first album, released 1967 and revised shortly thereafter and never available on CD by itself until now. Bonus tracks include “Go Your Way” from Al’s first recording session in 1965 and a hilarious, never-before-released send-up of The Who’s “My Generation.”

• Love Chronicles: Its 18-minute title track notwithstanding, this This album, notable for its 18-minute title track, was named “Folk Album of the Year” by Melody Maker in 1969 and featured Richard Thompson, Ashley Hutchings and other Fairport Convention members under aliases. It’s also the first mainstream album to employ the f-word. Reissue contains the bonus cuts “Jackdaw,” previously available only on a fan- club disc, plus “She Follows her Her Own Rules” from recordings with Peter White, and the demo “Fantasy.”

• Zero She Flies: This 1970 album – available for the first time on CD by itself– features Trevor Lucas of Fairport Convention. The reissue contains an unreleased track recorded with Peter White, plus ”Lyke-Wake Dirge,” a previously unreleased classic folk song featuring Mimi Farina.

• Orange: Released in ’72, Stewart enlisted Rick Wakeman of Yes and Brinsley Schwarz of The Rumour for this ’72 release. Joining the original album are the import-only “Elvaston Place,” plus an unreleased version of a Paul Anka song made famous by Buddy Holly, “You Don’t Even Know Me.”

• Modern Times: Alan Parsons produced this 1975 release, Al’s sixth album, which reached # No. 30 on the Billboard album charts. Contains the title track, “Carol,” “Apple Cider Reconstruction,” “The Dark and the Rolling Sea,” plus two bonus tracks from fan- club releases: “Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time, A Sense of Déjà vu” and “Willie The King,” and an import-only track “Swallow Wind.”

• 24 Carrots: Shooting to #37 on the American album charts, Stewart’s ninth album featured Peter White and Toto’s Jeff Porcaro. It contains his hit “Midnight Rocks.” Bonus tracks include two White collaborations, “the The Ringing of Bells” and “Tonton Macoute,” plus the fan club-only side “Candy Came Back.”

• Live Indian Summer: This 1981 double live album also featured a side of new of new studio tracks, and appears here complete on CD for the first time. It features live versions of Stewart’s two biggest U.S. hits, “Year of the Cat” and “Time Passages.” There’s even a song titled “Clarence Frogman Henry.”

• Russians & Americans: Bearing a Cold War theme, Al’s eleventh album contained such titles as “Rumours of War” and the title track “Russians & Americans.” Here they’re joined by a never-before-released demo written for the soundtrack to “The World According to Garp,” plus two fan-club tracks, “In Red Square” and “How Does it Happen.”

• Last Days of the Century: Not only did Tori Amos contribute vocals to this 1988 release, but two of the bonus tracks (“Ten Cents” and “Dreaming”) were demos co-written by Al and Tori shortly after the sessions for the main album. Also contains album tracks “Real and Unreal,” “King of Portugal,” “Red Toupee,” “Josephine Baker” and “License to Steal.”

• Rhymes in Rooms: This second live album, issued in 1992, and featuring longtime collaborator Peter White, contains “Year of the Cat,” “Time Passages,” “Fields of France,” “Josephine Baker,” and “Nostradamus,” with an early demo version of “Timeless Skies” and a live version of the Elvis Costello song “London’s Brilliant Parade.”

• Between the Wars: Lawrence Juber of Wings, session drummer Jim Keltner and the late Bruce Gary of The Knack join Al on his 15th 15th album, released in ’93, . which It includescontains “Night Train to Munich,” “Life Between the Wars,” “The Black Danube,” and two fan club-only tracks, “The Bear Farmers of Birnam” and “Merry Monks.”

• Down In The Cellar: This 2001 album was never released commercially because the label went bankrupt immediately upon its release. Both the album title and song titles (“The Sharaz Shuffle,” “Tasting History,” “Down in the Cellars”) are a tip-off to Stewart’s other passion beside music – wine collecting. The bonus tracks are likewise top shelf – “Dark Side” and “Belsize Blues.”

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