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on 1 August 2002
The "True Life Adventures of a Folk Rock Troubadour" is an insightful book into the life of one of the most talented singer/songwriters of this generation, Al Stewart. The book chronicles the life of Stewart from birth to the present day with many humorous and sad antecdotes along the way. I like the way author Neville Judd composited the book. The interviews with Al's mother, record executives, managers, studio musicians, contemporaries, friends and Al himself gave me a better perspective of Stewart and the trials and tributlations he went through before Year of the Cat, his success during the mid to late seventies and is horrendous battles and bad luck he had with the dreaded record companies after Time Passages. As the book moved along from album to album, I found myself pulling out my Al Stewart collection and following along with Judd what was going on during the making and release of that album. I learned so much about what Stewart was thinking during that period. His transformation from the bed-sit writing to the historical period is truly fascinating and without a doubt, I rate Stewart as the best lyricist going today. Not being from the UK, the book explained a lot of questions and gaps I had regarding friends and locations in England, from listening to Stewart's earlier work. I thought I was a rabid Al Stewart fan and knew mostly everything about him. This book proved me wrong. The stories involving Yoko Ono, Jimmy Page, Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny, Alan Parsons and Clive Davis were fascinating.
There are no margins in this book. So a 325+ page book was easily 425+ pages with a normal book. As an avid Stewart fan, I didn't care for a repeat of lyrics of current Al Stewart material. It was, however, a pleasure to see the lyrics of unreleased Stewart material that on the surface were as strong as anything Stewart as written.
Couple of drawbacks with the book. There was a great amount of time in the book spent from teenage years through the first 4 albums. I would have liked to seen equal time spent from the 24 Carrots period to the present. Laurence Juber has been a big part of Al's life the past few years and I felt more should have been devoted to that. Also, I would have liked to see more pictures of Stewart's wife and family.
Other than that, the book is first rate. Highly recommended for any Al Stewart fan or fan of the folk rock period of the 60's and 70's.
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on 7 June 2002
Neville Judd's Al Stewart: The True Life Adventures of a Folk-Rock Troubadour is, above all, a fun read. It is clear from page one that Judd is passionate about music and about singer-songwriter Al Stewart ("Year of the Cat," "Time Passages," "Roads to Moscow"). That passion pleasantly carries the reader through 312 densely packed pages of amusing anecdotes, free-flowing factoids, and the occasional surprise from the life story of the only artist from the '60s British folk-roots scene to score two LPs in the US Top Thirty. Judd enjoyed close access to Stewart and many of his contemporaries, colleagues, friends, and family members: The resulting book is an interweaving of snippets from interviews, writings from Stewart's own journals, and the author's own enthusiastic, largely comma-free prose. The whole offers a breezy, if sometimes repetitive, and detailed look at Stewart's life from birth through the present day, although the lion's share of attention is given to his public-school years and his hardscrabble bedsit days as a rising player in London's folk scene. Judd also shines more light on the dark side of the starmaker machinery of the record business--it's fascinating to see how the rock-and-roll dream turned nightmarish through the differing perspectives of Stewart (who, to Judd's credit, does not get kid-gloves treatment), former manager Luke O'Reilly, and various bandmates. Here's hoping that the much-deserved resurgence of Al Stewart will bring about a sequel--this book, sadly, offers very little about the mature Stewart, who is its most compelling character. But for the richly portrayed Soho scene and the glimpses into the past of a truly gifted and woefully underrated and underappreciated artist, Al Stewart: The True Life Adventures of a Folk-Rock Troubadour is enjoyable reading for any music lover. It's a must-read for serious Stewart fans and devotees of British folk-rock.
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on 26 April 2003
Having read the other reviews, I find myself coming roughly in between the two main responses.
I agree that the actual writing is amateurish, with plenty of mistakes, as if put together as the information was collected without any thorough read-through or an idea of the structure. This makes it very hard to read through from start to finish.
*However*, it is a good book to dip into. Many of the pictures, particularly early promo shots of a handsome and poetic-looking Al, are wonderful, and even the worst of the previously unpublished lyrics and poems are interesting. I've found that when I listen to Al's records now, I want the book with me as a kind of additional set of sleevenotes, shedding more light on the songs and their genesis. Read in small extracts, the writing does its job.
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on 18 December 2015
This is just so badly written. The sad thing is, it will probably be the only biography of Al Stewart, so it's the only one we're ever going to get. The author is an amateur, but at least he's collected the facts, and put them out there.
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on 25 July 2002
As a fan of Al Stewart's music, I'm thrilled that someone wrote a biography about him. However, I have to agree with most of the review by "Mark", who also pans this book.
This book has little continuity and should have been edited. The anecdotes break up the timeline. Even Judd can't keep what he wrote straight because he often repeats several anecdotes throughout the book.
Chapters dealing with Stewart's earlier, pre-"Past, Present & Future" days are tediously long. Sadly, Stewart's more recent career has been paid comparatively scant attention. If one is familiar with most of his work, this is unfortunate since his last two albums "Between the Wars" & "Down in the Cellar" are excellent. One would like to know more about his work with Laurence Juber.
All negativity aside, Stewart fans may want to plow through this book because it may be the only biography about him. That Judd chose to write about Al Stewart is laudable. I'd rather read a single, mediocre book about him than ten good books about Brittany Spears. For that reason alone, I'll give this book two stars.
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on 11 April 2008
Yes, I have just finished reading Nevil Judd's book, which I found to be a rattling good read.
Unexplained, true, why AS suddenly debunked from US touring, returning to "Blighty" when he was on a mega-roll in terms of popularity and music sales. Also, could have provided a greater insight into the real Mr. Stewart.
Still, a rattling good read, with great photographs and lyrics throughout.
If not worth five stars, then definitely worth 4.6, which is nearer to five than it is to four.
Anyone with the slightest interest in Al Stewart should enjoy this book immensely.
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on 5 September 2007
This book is not as bad as some of the reviews suggest, and personally I had no trouble reading it straight through. It is well researched and contains a lot of interesting information that you'd struggle to find elsewhere. However, some episodes recieve disproportionately large coverage, whilst others barely get a look in. A bit of editing would have been good, since there does appear to be some repetition. I'm guessing Judd got fed up with writing it and sent it off for print before it was really ready - maybe even before he'd read it through himself!
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on 7 February 2003
I was so excited when I learned that an Al Stewart biography was being published, however this was soon knocked out of me after grinding through several chapters of boring early reminisces. It appears that this is Neville Judd's first biography, and it certainly shows. Essentially, what we have here is a collection of quotes and anecdotes, pieced together in approximate chronological order. What this means is that certain events that are easy to research have an enormous amount of airtime (e.g. endless dialogue with studio musicians), with very little analysis of the subject himself, or of his less well documented episodes (e.g. it would have been great to hear about an English folkie's experiences on the LA "star circuit" from those involved). Too often the author throws up an interesting point then quickly discards any analysis of it in favour of a reprint of Al's lyrics.
After reading this book, I don't feel like I know Al at all. I read this straight after finishing Charles Cross' excellent biography of Kurt Cobain and Neil Strauss' Motley Crue book (an odd selection, I know!) both of which really got you inside the minds of the subjects (which in both cases isn't necessarily healthy).
So, should you buy it? For non-Al fans, this would have to be a 1 star review. However, for Al fans, I don't expect we'll see another book, so for scarcity value (and one or two entertaining sections) this probably scrapes three stars, so I'll be generous and average out two.
A sadly missed opportunity.
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on 23 April 2011
Very enjoyable and readable account of this brilliant and very individual musician who has carved out a unique career in the music industry. Interesting connections in his early years to the likes of Jimmy Page, Sandy Denny and other icons of the music industry make this book an interesting journey from the 60s to the 2000's. I would like to see the author revise it and bring it up to date as he has brought our 2 new albums since the book ended.

If you are a fan of Al Stewart you will really enjoy this book. It provides some great insights to his life and times and the tremendous lyrics in his music.
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on 13 March 2015
I have been an enormous fan of Al Stewart for over thirty years and play his albums (up to 24 Carrots) on a regular basis.

Judd's book is somewhat episodic and in places repetitive. That is not to say that Judd's research has been thorough, which I believe it has been. But Stewart comes across as a spoilt malcontent who never seemed too happy with his lot, even when he had achieved his desire to become a famous rock star.

I never finished reading it as I became bored hearing about someone whose music I admire and whose life was much less interesting.
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