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A Beach Full Of Shells CD

4.5 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (20 Jun. 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: EMI
  • ASIN: B0009A21G2
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 163,377 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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Product Description

Amazon.co.uk

Al Stewart has always had a distinctive vocal style, making his radio hits like "Year of the Cat" immediately recognizable, while also possessing a knack for writing tuneful pop songs. A Beach Full of Shells qualifies as his first release since 1995, and both his vocal style and craftsmanship remain intact. It would be a mistake, however, to view Stewart as no more than the maker of pop confections specially designed for a mass radio audience. The cover of A Beach Full of Shells offers the first clue of a playful mind that enjoys the weight of words: there are two types of shells on the beach, one from the sea, the other for use in a gun. The complexity of his approach is best experienced on "Somewhere in England 1915," a lengthy song (nearly seven minutes) with shifting dream imagery. Weaving fantasy with brief references to World War I, the narrator eventually wakes up 90 years later to find himself on the edge--the song seems to suggest--of yet another war. Stewart accomplishes all of this without ever being obvious, giving the song a subtle quality as it reveals its surprises to the listener. This, however, is only one of many moods on A Beach Full of Shells. "Katherine of Oregon" is as light as air, a pleasant, flowing ballad with nice acoustic guitar and light percussion, while "Mona Lisa Talking" shifts through a number of intriguing chord changes to offer a little common sense advice. A Beach Full of Shells probably doesn't spell Stewart's return to the Top 40, but it is a solid effort that will certainly please fans. --Ronnie D Lankford, Jr, All Music Guide

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Al Stewart makes hip hop reggae dancefloor album! No, that's never going to happen, is it? After 40 years of music making and heaven knows how many albums (I've got `em all..), Al's latest is everything you would hope for and yet it still delivers surprises. Melodically robust throughout, lyrically imaginative and witty at every turn, beautifully produced without tricks or contrivances, I think this album is as good as his most famous effort, Year of The Cat. Al is 60 in the autumn, but his voice sounds just as it did on Zero She Flies in 1970 and his creative well is still overflowing.
As others reviews have suggested, every song is so strong that it is hard to pick a favourite. There are inimate but lively love songs (Katherine of Oregon, very clever title), achingly beautiful wistful reminiscences that Al has always done so brilliantly (Somewhere in England 1915), lush acoustic magic (Mr Lear), cod Rock'n'Roll (yes, really, on Class of 58 - not the 15 minute long version he did on tour last year, alas, but great stuff in 4 minutes anyway), evocative vignettes of a girl in Chelsea in the swinging 60's (Gina in the Kings Road) and an intriguing little beauty called Royal Courtship that manages to use the words "majordomo", "amanuensis", "plenipotentiary" and "vizier" all in the same song without strain or pretension.
I am a massive fan of the man and, in my mind, he can do no wrong and has never made a poor album. But on this record, I can honestly say that Al is at his creative peak and I'm off to enjoy it once more and play it again. It'll be the third time today and it's not even 10 am yet...
Magnificent in every conceivable respect. Can't wait for the autumn tour.
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Format: Audio CD
If only Al would tour again with a full band! This album delivers all that any Al Stewart fan could ever want.The melodies are sensational, the lyrics incredible and Al's voice gets better and better. Immelman Turn has everything; clever lyrics, a great hook and when Al sings "why, why, why" I get goosebumps from the sound of his voice. "Gina" is a classic and "Somewhere in England" is a true Al Stewart story with a memorable guitar solo.
The great thing, however, is that with every listen you hear something new. So keep listening
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Format: Audio CD
I bought this album when it came out last year and enjoyed it but thought it easy going and fairly commercial-not quite up to "Between the wars" standard.

However I have just started replaying it again and I have found my enjoyment increasing with each play.

Again Al demonstates his incredible writing ability-with intelligent and engaging lyrics with a variety of styles that never fail to impress and tunes that stay fixed in your mind for days afterwards-and again all of the songs deserve the time and care lavished on them as they all stand independently of each other-you always get quality with quantity with Al!-and again the album is produced by Laurence Juber who continues to play sublime guitar throughout the album-He is surely one of the all time greats on the guitar-but then Al always seems to attract brilliant musicians to work with him.

Al shows that at age 60 he has lost none of his song writing ability as exemplified by a "Royal Courtship"-which is worth the cost of the album on its own-totally innovative-no chorus-lyrics that captivate and impress and a haunting melancholic backing that brings out the best in Laurence Jubers acoustic playing-brilliant!

Several of the songs would be hits, especially if covered by other artists with a more commercial eye to the charts,but all in all an excellent album-more variety in style but quality throughout.
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Format: Audio CD
One of the first things you may notice about A Beach Full of Shells is the variety it contains. Some songs are fast and happy (like "Class of '58", others are quieter and less happy ("Anniversary"). "Katherine of Oregon" makes me want to grab a partner and go dancing on the beach. It's a celebration of getting just a little long in the tooth rather than the usual dreary take on the subject. "Somewhere in England, 1915" makes me want to break out the history books.
As usual with Al Stewart's work, each song is as complex as a fine wine. Each time you listen, you will get more from this CD ... until you find yourself humming "Immelman Turn" or "Mona Lisa Talking" while you wait in the queue at the Post Office.
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Format: Audio CD
As someone who has almost everything that Al has ever recorded, this is up with the best. Don't underestimate Laurence Juber's contribution, both in production and sweetest guitar. As usual, Al makes the words dance; ever integrating interesting sounds. "Plenipotentiary", "aileron", "amanuensis" spring to mind. Some might say pretentious, I say magical. Every time I listen to "Walked Out In The Snow" and "My Egyptian Couch," breath gets deeper, eyes close. Beautiful songs. Al is 61 now, but his songs are fresh as sunrise. Truly wonderful. Life affirming indeed.
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Format: Audio CD
Very simply, if you like any other Stewart album you'll like this one also. Al stewart has not changed that much since 1975, beautiful melodies, beautiful guitar and the same friendly voice.
He is a sure candidate for a big comeback any day soon.
Few people know that since his hit days of "year of the cat" in the late seventies Al Stewart has built a very consistent body of work, of a quality hard to match.
I have read many professional reviews that say that he has nothing new to say. That's true, but what he sings is great, although, indeed, nothhing new.
So, that's it, if you liked "year of the cat" or "modern times" and wonder where has Al Stewart disappeared this is a great album to hear what he has been doing since.
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