Friday, October 13, 2006

Orange/Past Present Future/Modern TImes

Orange/Past Present Future/Modern TImes

This is a budget priced collection of three of Al Stewart's lesser-known albums. For some reason, at one time I felt a need to write a review of it on Amazon. And I said something like this:

Disc one contains the complete "Orange" and "Past, Present & Future" LPs. Disc two starts with the "Swallow Wind" bonus track and then moves on to the complete "Modern Times" album. The only thing that you don't get with this set that you would get if you bought the CDs individually are two bonus tracks from the BGO release of Modern times--the single version of "News From Spain" and "Elvaston Place," which was the B side of "News from Spain." Since the album version of "News Form Spain is included on "Orange," you only give up one song by buying this set rather than the individual CDs, and that song isn't one that anyone is likely to miss.

The set comes nicely packaged with a booklet that contains the lyrics to all the songs, plus an essay about the three albums. I did not notice any difference in sound quality between this release and the other CD versions that I have heard. That may be because there is no difference, or it could just be me.

The three albums in this set represent a transitional between Al Stewart's early albums (collected in the set "To Whom It May Concern") with their folk-rock relationship angst and his more pop-oriented 70s hits "Year of the Cat" and "Time Passages." The albums included in this set are "Orange" (1972), "Past, Present & Future" (1973), and "Modern Times" (1975).

A lot of people think "Orange" is a great album. I am not among them. Fans of Stewart's early work would certainly like it.

A lot of people also think "Past, Present & Future" is a great album. I would have to agree, and it is the one that earns this set most of its stars. It is definitely among Stewart's best work.

"Modern Times" is a bit of a let down from "Past, Present & Future," but still a very good album with some very good songs. This was the first of three Al Stewart albums produced by Alan Parsons--the others being "Year of the Cat" and "Time Passages." It's not as good as the albums that would follow, but still a very respectable effort.

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