I’m sorry I’ve been a little slow in posting this week. I’ve been trying my best of combine getting underway in a new job, finding time to work out so I don’t lost complete control of my weight and watching the baseball playoffs. I’m sleeping about five and a half hours a night these days and what I’m doing is physically unsustainable. Well, at least at my age. I’ve missed a few Rock Star celebrity birthdays, but I’m going to backdate a couple shortly so be on the lookout for those. I think most of you get pointed in our direction via the blog aggregators, but a few loyal readers might actually bookmark us and come back every other day hoping to find a chestnut or two. We thank you for that. Todays’ chestnut is a 1974 Arista Records release by a Scottish singer named Al Stewart. I know many of you will automatically move to the next post as soft rockers aren’t considered cool these days…if they ever were…but hear me out. Past, Present & Future was a very good record. I remember my childhood buddy and lifelong friend Jim & I got a hold of this record as result of his older brother or sister owning it. Al Stewart, of course, went on to international fame in the 70′s with worldwide hits like “Year of The Cat, On The Border and Time Passages.”
I have to admit; Al Stewart is probably the definition of a Guilty Pleasure. I mean, what self respecting AC/DC fan is going to admit to digging Al Stewart? Hello! I know I’ve mentioned this in posts Past, Present & Future (see what I did there? I never cease to amuse myself I tell ya), but my friend Jim and I used to sit for hours playing Rummy 500 and Strat-O-Matic (a baseball dice game) and listen to his older brothers and sisters albums. We learned about Joni Mitchell, The Moody Blues, Jimi Hendrix, It’s A Beautiful Day, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin…the list was very long and varied. One of the records that hit the turntable (remember those?) on more than one occasion was this Al Stewart record. We also had 1975′s Modern Times with the lead track “Carol” and that was always a favorite of mine too. I was in love with a Carol…hell I probably still am if I stop and think about it…and I used to play that tune again and again. But Past, Present & Future was a lot different that anything we heard back then. First, Al Stewart had a Scottish accent for obvious reasons, but he could sing. His music was Folk for sure, but it rocked. I know that sounds ludicrous to some of you, but he wasn’t your typical folk singer. He had a lot of imagery in his songs and it wasn’t all love and loss, young lust, cars and secret crushes. He wrote about the sea, American Presidents, World War and Nostradamus. He had a sense of history to his music. It was fun to listen to. I always seem to come back to this record and give it a good listen every year or two. Remember I have thousands of choices here at HQ, but I’m a fan of this record and I don’t care who knows it.
Young Al, who once shared a London flat with future legend Paul Simon, didn’t have success immediately. He worked the coffee house circuit and cut several records beginning in 1967 that eventually led to late 70′s superstardom. In fact, Past, Present & Future was his fifth album. For the record this album surfaced first in the UK in 1973 so you may see that date attached to it as well. It didn’t sell all that well. The prior album, the Proggy Orange (1972), has been called his best by some of his flock as well. I downloaded it about a week ago after the Roger Waters show, but I ran out of real estate and haven’t listened to it just yet. After 1975′s Modern Times saw Stewart begin to move towards the eventual light and airy sound of Year of The Cat, which came the following year in 1976. Alan Parsons produced Modern Times and “Carol” became his first real single. I have to tell you, like early Chicago (Cetera!), I kind of have a soft (how’s that for perfectly named “Rock”?) spot for Al’s work between 1973 and 1978. I lost touch with his catalogue, but he’s released some 18 records over the years. I don’t know that he was ever actually cool, but before “Year of The Cat” became a radio staple he had some cache. After that he was mainstream. Still, I don’t mind telling you I liked his records back then. It might be embarrassing to some, but I’ve got plenty of co-called “cool” music in my collection to camouflage the occasional soft rocker. Anyway, he was on my mind like a “Song On The Radio” last week and I meant to get that off my chest. I’ll try to catch up more today or tomorrow.
One final note here: The Giant Panther is getting married tomorrow, Rocktober 9th! Big doings in Salem, MA. Don’t try and crash this wedding, but for those of you who sent Ryan song suggestions he thanks you. It’s gonna be a nice day for a “White Wedding.” He probably won’t play that Billy Idol ditty on principle, but I figured I’d throw that one out there with the weather scheduled to be pristine. I’ll try and rip one more post off before I leave tomorrow morning, but don’t give up on us. I’ve still got tons and tons of music to remind you of before it’s over!
Buy or Download Past, Present & Future from Amazon here.