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4.6 out of 5 stars34
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 1 February 2012
...from the walls of the Bastille'! Rock'n'roll or what?! Delighted to have this on a decent re-master at last. Time Passages was originally released in 1978 as the follow-up to `Year of the Cat' and despite the same immaculate Alan Parsons production and some strong songs it always seems to have been rather overshadowed by its predecessor. Shame really, because this mixture of historical epics, gentler folky numbers and a couple of blatant (and successful) attempts aimed at American AOR radio is as fine a piece of work as Al has ever produced.
The title track was apparently written `to order' as a follow-up single to 'Year of the Cat' and Al always seems to have played down its merits, but from the retro-chime of the electric piano intro through Phil Kenzie's obligatory sax solo its always been one of my favourite songs, nudging the listener to consider the threads of their past through a straightforward but evocative lyric. Elsewhere `Valentina Way `rocks as hard as anything Al's ever done (OK, so not that hard then!) while Timeless Skies and Almost Lucy are first-rate, more acoustic numbers. `The Palace of Versailles' (see the title of this review) is possibly the strongest of the historical songs, complete with the excellent Tim Renwick on lead guitar, but `A Man for All Seasons' and the marvellously claustrophobic `Life in Dark Water' are also memorable. `Time Passages' and `Song on the Radio' both notched up respectable single sales in the US.
Listening to 'Time Passages' it's hard to believe that in 1978 the tidal wave of punk was aiming to wash away `this sort of thing'. Glad this album found a rock to cling to and that those top blokes at Rhino have done a decent job on the re-master!
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on 11 April 2007
For all of you who thought the career of Al Stewart started and ended with "Year of the Cat", there's good news! He did an awful lot more before and after. This album in particular is one of my favourites. It has a great feel to it. I agree that a crisper re-master is long overdue; however, you can't fault the quality of the songs on display.

A lot of artists would be panned for having another big sax solo on the follow up title track, having played that particular card on his big "Cat" hit. However, on "Time Passages" it really works because the song is of such quality.

Any artist, even if he isn't an accomplished guitarist like Stewart, must be applauded for having musicians such as Tim Renwick and Peter White on board. I have always been a huge fan of Renwick's. His guitar solos are stand-out pieces on their own. Peter White is simply a very versatile musical genius.

Personal favourites for me are the intriguing and claustrophobic "Life in Dark Waters", the historical "A Man for All Seasons" & "Palace of Versailles" plus the sublime "Timeless Skies" and "Song on the Radio". But having said that, I really love all the tracks with the possible exception of "Valentina Way".

I once saw him at the Dominion Theatre in London when he still used to tour with a full band. Many of the songs from this album were part of his repertoire and all stood up well live.

The album puts you in an almost trance like state of mind and succeeds in taking you to times and places few artists are able to do.

Tremendous lyrics, great musicians, and wonderful arrangements.............without getting carried away any further, buy it and see for yourself!
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on 16 January 2010
This remastered Rhino edition of Time Passages finally does justice to this sophisticated recording, and sounds infinitely better than the former Emi Fame CD which had very poor definition and dynamics. At last the album, which is one of Al's best of the 70s, sounds as clear and strong on CD as it should. This reissue also includes all lyrics and recording credits (though the drumming of Jeff Porcaro on track 2 is overlooked), an essay and some good archive photos. Most of the songs are great, making this a worthy successor to Al's albums Year of the Cat, Modern times and Past present and future (all of which are now also available in good remastered editions).
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on 20 November 2007
This album is supreme-and this is a statement which I cannot exaggerate. Al Stewart, for me, has consistently used clever lyrics, fine melody and, of course, an immensley unique voice. But here, I believe he manages to transcend even the brilliance of earlier works (surely nobody could fail to appreciate the consistent story-telling epic of past, present, future, for instance). Furthermore, the poetic delivery actually draws me into the historical themes, much more than through other mediums.
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on 23 November 2000
This album followed Year of the Cat and firmly established the direction Al had taken with that album. His lyrics are always worth listening to. The songs are a mixture styles, with Life in Dark Waters about a submarine, being extremely evocative. The historical type of song comes in Palace of Versailles and A Man for All Seasons.
This CD is probably not the one to buy if you never have listened to Al before. The selve notes are sparse to say the least, which is a shame. However the Al Stewart fan will want this ih her/his collection.
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on 1 June 2012
It is frightening to think that this album came out in 1978, a mere 34 years ago. My friend Kim bought it, and I coveted it, although for some inexplicable reason I never got around to buying it.

It is, overall, an excellent album. If I have reservations, they are in relation to 'Song on the Radio' (which always feels a tad prolonged) and 'Life in Dark Water' (a bit melodramatic). But even these two weaker tracks are actually very decent compositions - against which the remainder of the album shines as an exercise in musical excellence.

Every track there is great for humming along to in the car, and there are moments of real beauty, such as 'End of the Day' and 'Almost Lucy'. I am struck again at how masterful Al Stewart is at weaving interesting historical references into his lyrics ('A Man for All Seasons' and 'The Palace of Versailles'), in order to make you reflect on the craziness of our lives.

There's a great deal of nostalgia here ('Timeless Skies') and a melancholic view on the passing of life ('Time Passages') but I'm a sucker for all that stuff.

Lovely arrangements, great lyrics, one of Al's best works IMHO.
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on 12 April 2001
This is one of Al Stewart's best albums and appears to be largely unknown and unappreciated.There is not a bad track on this album and the historical tracks, 'A Man For All Seasons' and 'Palace of Versailles' are particularly memorable and evocative.'Song on the Radio' is also a classic song.If you like Al Stewart at all you won's be disappointed in this album.Great value at this price!
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on 29 May 2001
This album, like many of Stewart's other works looks at people, places and relationships. 'Song on the Radio' was a flagrant attempt to get airplay on AOR stations in the USA. It also contains one of his most beautiful songs, the melodic 'End of the Day' about relationships which are on the way out. 'Life in Dark Water' is pure X files- with a strong link to the Bermuda Triangle and the Marie Celeste. It's a musical treat!
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on 7 December 2006
I've always loved this album, Al's follow-up to 1976's "Year Of The Cat." Though Al himself is known to dislike the title track, I personally love it. It always takes me back to that period of the late '70s. "Valentina Way" is a great rocker. "Timeless Skies, "End Of The Day," and "Almost Lucy" are classics, in my book. "Palace Of Versaille," besides just being a great tune, first piqued my interest in the French Revolution.

This album is a joy to listen to while simultaneously inspiring me to learn. These are what I consider traits of the better Al Stewart albums.
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on 28 December 2010
A gem of an album by a vastly underrated artist. Each track is its own little story, and the lyrics conjour up vivid pictures. Stewart always surrounded himself with excellent musicians: Peter White on guitar and keyboard and guitarist Tim Renwick, who has since played with Pink Floyd, who dsiplays some lovely fourishes on Palace of Verslaille, and a cracking solo on Life in Dark Water. Stewart's vocal style is almost spoken,and clearly influenced Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys. All in all a great CD, which does not at all sound dated, despite being recorded in 1978.
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