Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Music: Are you ready for that? Driving your car down a desert highway listening to the seventies and eighties rise like zombies from the rippling sand? I hope so.

Al Stewart albums back in print!

Jerry Stratton, April 24, 2007

There are a few artists who I’ll pick up anything with their name on it. If you’ve been following Mimsy for a while, you know that Alice Cooper is one. Al Stewart is another. Stewart is famous mostly for his Year of the Cat and Time Passages albums. Both are great, but he has a lot more great albums.

For a long time, his early albums—except the famous two—have been unavailable. His first three albums have long been unavailable in any format; even haunting used vinyl shops I haven’t seen Love Chronicles, The Bedsitter Images, or Zero She Flies. Some of his earlier stuff has been available as expensive imports; even some of his more recent stuff, such as Down in the Cellar, has been relegated to imports.

RKS Entertainment is set to change all that in June: all thirteen of Stewart’s “out-of-print-in-the-U.S. albums” are or will soon be released “each garnished with rare and/or unreleased bonus tracks”. I’ve already pre-ordered those first three albums, as well as Between the Wars.

Between the Wars is the one I’m looking forward to most. When Stewart was at Humphrey’s Backstage here in San Diego last year, he played Joe The Georgian, and it’s a funny, strange song of the type that Stewart excels at and I enjoy. I often think of Stewart and Alice Cooper as similar, because the reason I enjoy them both so much is the sharpness in their lyrics.

Of the other albums RKS is bringing back, I recommend Famous Last Words as a good place to start if you don’t already count yourself as a diehard Al Stewart fan (if you do, you probably already have everything except possibly those first three). I consider it one of his “recent” albums, because I bought it after I started buying music again, and it’s his last album from the nineties. Feel Like, Charlotte Corday, and Genie on a Table Top should appeal to anyone who enjoyed Year of the Cat.

Last Days of the Century is also a good album that has until now been hard to find. Josephine Baker is a fun song lamenting the passage of time (as so many Al Stewart songs seem to do). License to Steal is one of those weird songs that hits me just the right way. Whoever’s perspective he’s singing that from, they don’t like lawyers.

Russians & Americans is the second Al Stewart album I purchased as a teen-ager, after Time Passages. It’s one of the first albums I got on vinyl. As the title suggests, some of Russians & Americans will seem dated twenty years later, but every song is good and most are very good. The highlights for me are the “war” songs, Rumours of War and Night Meeting, as well as the satirical The Candidate. The title song probably aged worst, but it’s still a good song.

If you only remember Al Stewart from the seventies, I recommend taking a look at his albums again, trying out some of his older stuff and his newer stuff that you might not have heard of.

“I can see you’re one of that kind… that carry round a time bomb in your mind… No one knows… when you’ll slip the pin.”

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