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4.8 out of 5 stars
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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You really cannot go wrong with this wonderful set of 5 CDs by Al Stewart.
The cost for the 5 is the same as 1 CD.

Now if you are like me and have the CDs or most of them then this set may be worth buying because 4 of the 5 are remastered. Only Time Passages has not.

If you have any or all on Vinyl then buy these like a shot and store those LPs which must be worn out by now!

Amazon have not actually given us the titles so here they are.
Disc: 1 - Bedsitter images
Disc: 2 - Love chronicles
Disc: 3 - Zero she flies
Disc: 4 - Year of the cat
Disc: 5 - Time Passages.

The set comes in tiny replicas of the original LPs.
Which is fine because there are no extra tracks included so the track listings are correct however you may need a magnifying class to check!
Some people hate them- I love them slim so really easy to store and the music is what counts?

However back in the 60s we used to carry our LPs out under our arms to impress girls with our taste in music.

I would look a right 'NaNa carrying these around- mind you the 'girls' will all be grandmas now and won't be able to see the covers!!

On the other hand if you have then on vinyl and they are worn out or scratched after playing them in your Bedsit on your Dansette (ask your Gran what this was!) then you really are on to a winner.

On a personal note I first came by Al Stewart at the Weely Festival way back.
I recall that the acts had overrun and Al was told to do only one number- so he made it a long one.
It was Love Chronicals and was superb! Great Days.
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We have had to wait for almost two long years to get the second instalment in this great reissues of
Five Classics.
Just like Volume One You really cannot go wrong with this wonderful set of 5 CDs by Al Stewart.

True this second set is not as well known as Year of the Cat, or Bedsitter Images., but it still has wonderful value with the cost of five great Cds for the price of one new one.

So for the small price of two CDS you can get ten of Al’s Cds!!

Now if you are like me and have a couple of the CDs already you may be thinking is it worth getting.
Unlike the first volume only the last CD seems to have been remastered.

So it is you.
If you have the last one Famous Last Words and it’s not remastered and one other then this is still worth getting.

If you have any or all on Vinyl then buy these like a shot and store those LPs which must be worn out by now!

Amazon have not exactly made the titles clear so here they are.
Disc: 1 "24 Carrots" (1980),
Disc: 2 "Russians & Americans" (1984),
Disc: 3 "Live / Indian Summer" (1981),
Disc: 4 "Last Days Of The Century" (1988) and
Disc: 5 "Famous Last Words" (1993).

(Volume One had
Bedsitter Images
- Love chronicles
- Zero she flies
- Year of the cat
:and Time Passages by the way.

-

The set comes in tiny replicas of the original LPs.
Which is fine because there are no extra tracks included so the track listings are correct however you may need a magnifying class to check!
Some people hate them- I love them slim so really easy to store and the music is what counts?

However back in the 70s and 80s we used to carry our LPs out under our arms to impress girls with our taste in music.

I would look a right 'NaNa carrying these around- mind you the 'girls' will all be grandmas now and won't be able to see the covers!!

But I could carry all ten in one hand so- swings and roundabouts

On the other hand if you have then on vinyl and they are worn out or scratched after playing them in your Bedsit on your Dansette (ask your Gran what this was!) then you really are on to a winner.

On a personal note I first came by Al Stewart at the Weely Festival way back.
I recall that the acts had overrun and Al was told to do only one number- so he made it a long one.
It was Love Chronicals and was superb! Great Days.
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on 28 January 2014
Born in Scotland, but raised in Bournemouth, Al Stewart started out as a budding lead guitarist in 1960s pop bands before establishing his own style as a singer songwriter. The five CDs in this package include his first three albums (1966-70) and two from his mid career during the late 1970s. He is still going strong, playing on both sides of the Atlantic.

The title track from the 1976 album Year of the Cat, included in this set, is the song almost everyone will have heard. It was his first hit. The album is probably the most commercial that he has yet made and has a strong collection of songs including On the Border and Flying Sorcery, a song based on Amy Johnson. The 1978 album Time Passages was the follow up. Although it has some good songs, it is, in my view overall slightly less successful.

The three early albums are particularly interesting, each having its own distinctive sound and atmosphere. The first, Bedsitter Images was released in two versions, both of which were notoriously difficult to find in the days of vinyl. The version here is the earlier and, arguably, stronger collection of songs. Whilst it has been criticised for overuse of orchestration, there is no escaping the fact that Stewart was already emerging as a highly original songwriter who consciously avoided cliché. The subject matter varies widely, but some of the tougher songs cover the seedier side of London life. They include a jaunty little number (and remember we are talking 1966 here) about the perils of a career in male prostitution.

The second album Love Chronicles is better known and has a particularly fine collection of songs, although the title track is notorious for its use of the F-word. There is also a strong cast of musicians, including Jimmy Page who supplies some telling guitar fills. The third album, Zero She Flies is less striking on a first listen, although over the years I have found that it rewards repeated listening. it has a number of good songs, including Stewart's first foray into history as a subject, and is a showcase for his talent as an acoustic guitarist.

Some of the original vinyl LP came in gatefold sleeves, complete with lyrics on the inside. One of the downsides of the Original Album Series packages is that you lose the benefits of any original packaging, and with it the lyrics. However, in this case, it is less of an issue in that Al Stewart has a exceptionally clear (although light) voice and you can hear every word sung. For the very modest asking price, I would recommend that anyone should give it a try.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 February 2016
CONTENT:

“Original Album Series, Volume 2” by Al Stewart, released by Parlophone Records from UK in 2016, contains 5 complete albums. I have compiled a detailed song listing (including album & singles label & number, chart position, release date, plus personal comments)(BB200=Billboard Album Chart; BB Pop=Billboard Hot 100; BB AC=Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart; CB Pop=Cash Box Singles Chart; RW Pop=Record World Singles Chart):

DISC 1: LP “24 CARROTS” (Arista AL 9520)(BB200 37/1980):
01 Running Man (Arista AS 0585)(uncharted a-side, 1981)
02 Midnight Rocks (Arista AS 0552)(a-side)(BB Pop 24/1980; BB AC 13/1980; CB Pop 24/1980; RW Pop 28/1980)
03 Constantinople (Arista AS 0552)(b-side, 1980)
04 Merlin's Time (RCA 2)(UK b-side, 1980) and (Arista AS 0585)(US b-side, 1981)
05 Mondo Sinistro (RCA 2)(uncharted UK a-side, 1980)
06 Murmansk Run/Ellis Island
07 Rocks in the Ocean
08 Paint By Numbers (Arista AS 0576)(uncharted a-side, 1980)
09 Optical Illusion (Arista AS 0576)(b-side, 1980)

DISC 2: LP “LIVE/INDIAN SUMMER” (Arista AL 8607)(BB200 110/1981)*original gatefold album with 5 additional studio tracks not included here; renamed “AT THE ROXY LOS ANGELES 1981” with only the 11 live tracks:
01 Running Man (Live)
02 Time Passages (Live)
03 Merlin's Time (Live)
04 If It Doesn't Come Naturally Leave It (Live)
05 Roads to Moscow (Live 1981)
06 Nostradamus Part One/ World Goes to Riyadh/ Nostradamus Part Two (Medley)(Live)
07 Soho (Needless to Say)(Live)
08 On the Border (Live)
09 Valentina Way (Live)
10 Clarence Frogman Henry (Live)
11 Year of the Cat (Live)

DISC 3: LP “RUSSIANS AND AMERICANS” (RCA PL 70307)(1984):
01 Lori, Don't Go Right Now (RCA 414)(uncharted UK a-side, 1984)
02 Rumours of War
03 The Gypsy and the Rose
04 Accident on 3rd Street (RCA 414)(UK b-side, 1984)
05 Strange Girl
06 Russians and Americans
07 Cafe Society
08 1 - 2 – 3
09 The Candidate

DISC 4: LP “LAST DAYS OF THE CENTURY” (Enigma DI-73316)(1988):
01 Prelude/Last Days of the Century
02 Real and Unreal
03 King of Portugal (Enigma ENV 4)(uncharted UK a-side, 1988)
04 Red Toupee
05 Where Are They Now
06 Bad Reputation
07 Josephine Baker (Enigma ENV 4)(UK b-side, 1988)
08 License to Steal
09 Fields of France
10 Antarctica
11 Ghostly Horses of the Plain

DISC 5: LP “FAMOUS LAST WORDS” (Mesa R2 79061)(1993):
01 Feel Like
02 Angel of Mercy
03 Don't Forget Me
04 Peter on the White Sea
05 Genie on a Table Top
06 Trespasser
07 Trains
08 Necromancer
09 Charlotte Corday
10 Hipposong
11 Night Rolls in

POSITIVE POINTS:

1 This is Volume 2 of the “Original Album Series” covering the period from 1980 – 1993. This is the first time these five albums appeared in one set with reasonable price. If purchased separately, the cost will be much higher.
2 Each CD is housed in its own miniature LP cardboard case, with the original front and back covers. Precious! If you find that the letters of the song titles on the back covers are too small to read, a separate listing was on the more sturdy cardboard case housing the 5 CDs.
3 The sound is well remastered.

NEGATIVE POINTS:

1 There are no bonus tracks.
2 The five studio tracks originally included in the “Live/Indian Summer” double album should have been included: (1) HERE IN ANGOLA (RCA Victor 5441)(uncharted German a-side, 1981), (2) PANDORA, (3) INDIAN SUMMER (RCA Victor 5441)(German b-side, 1981), (4) DELIA’S GONE, and (5) PRINCESS OLIVIA.
3 There is no essay.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Al Stewart was born Alastair Ian “Al” Stewart on September 5, 1945 in Glascow, Scotland. He developed a unique style of combining folk-rock songs with delicately woven tales of characters and events from history with many memorable hits including “Year of the Cat” and “Time Passages.”

If you like and start to collect Al Stewart, this current set, with good sound and reasonable price, is a good way to start. Of course, volume 1 of this series, covering the height of his career, is also highly recommended.
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Considering the fact that the whole set costs less than some of the hard to find cd's here cost then there is not much doubt that this is a great deal.

Mostly it's Stewart in the 80's, some time for his own good he is trying to relaunch a hit as big as Year of the Cat or On the Border, but Stewarts music even at its most commercial phase is still very classy.

Famous Last words is the most recent cd here and some kind of return to basics and to the core of Stewarts folk rock view of music. It's the best cd here.

The live cd also includes his hits, if you dont have them somewhere else, and the versions are not that different from the originals.
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on 20 February 2015
Packaging: 3 stars. A similar set to the Carly Simon Original Album Series, this is a lightweight, slimline (only slightly wider than a standard CD case) box containing five Al Stewart albums in spineless cardboard sleeves such as are frequently fixed to the front of magazines. Within these limitations the LP artwork is reproduced quite well; each has a distinctive coloured frame so you can identify the album from the side if you can remember which colour it has been given.

Music: 4 stars. Al Stewart is a talented guitarist, singer and songwriter and this set contains many gems. Here is a quick list of the contents:

Bedsitter Images (1967) - folky with orchestration
Love Chronicles (1969) - classic Al Stewart
Zero She Flies (1970) - Excellent album including Electric Los Angeles Sunset
Year of the Cat (1976) - Al Stewart’s most popular album including On The Border
Time Passages (1978) - A more subdued sound typical of many albums at the time.

The three albums missing from this chronology are Orange (1972), Past Present and Future (1973) and Modern Times (1975). These were available on a 2CD set which has now gone expensive. But if you can get both, you’ll have everything Al from 1967 to 1978!

Sound: 3 stars - I understand that all of these except Time Passages have been remastered, but the original sound recordings on the first three albums suffer from a little distortion on the vocals and Year of the Cat is rather sibilant. So the sound on these CDs is not thrilling but it’s very acceptable and only Time Passages makes me want to reach for the LP instead.

Value: 5 stars - obviously this is not only great value for money - five complete albums by Al Stewart - and there is little to be missed here in the basic packaging - it’s also great value for space.
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on 2 June 2016
What a variety of music. Al Stewart in a cardboard sleve. Quality excellent and great songs. The only criticism is the inner sleves wil almost certainly scratch the CDs and the sleve is to large to fit a plastic CD case. But at a fiver, who can complain?
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on 3 March 2016
Once upon a time Al Stewart played at Glastonbury and won over a whole new generation of listeners who depite the tiredness and the results of a hot afternoon were soon on their feet in appreciation of what Al was singing to them. This collection includes a live performance and you get some idea of how Al related to his audience with his baner that did not insult your intelligence. He deserves to be better know and his followers have a duty to make others aware of just how good - and topical - his songs really are.
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on 14 May 2014
I've liked Al Stewart ever since I first heard 'A small fruit song' on one of those great samplers so many years ago.It was a mixture of his voice and quirkiness of the lyrics. I own several of his albums on vinyl but never get to play them these days so when I saw this box set at a great price I snapped it up. Five brilliant cds that sum up perhaps his best period culminating in two of my favourite Al Stewart albums 'Year of the Cat' and 'Time Passages'. This set is worth it just for those two albums alone, but if you like Al Stewart anyway you won't be disappointed by any of these five albums. As usual with this series, the packaging could be more robust but for the money I paid I'm not complaining. And once they're on the streamer it doesn't matter at all. Recommended.
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on 19 July 2015
Love the idea of getting 5 albums for the price of one. Will be looking eagerly for my next purchase. At this price you can't lose and look forward to listening to all the albums which includes his classic Year of the Cat which I have on vinyl from years past.
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