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Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars Al in Europe, 15 Mar. 2010
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This review is from: Between the Wars (Audio CD)
This has an evocative cover, guitar wizardry from Laurence Juber (with whom I went to school!) and a strong variety of moods and textures. One song, Sampan (a type of Chinese boat) is arguably the loveliest Al ever wrote; not sure why it`s so rarely mentioned in reviews.
This is certainly, despite some dark subject matter, Al at his most upbeat and least
`bedsittery`. Juber`s second guitar gives the whole thing a jazzy, jaunty feel.
So why 4 stars not 5?
No Al Stewart album would ever get 5 from me because of the man`s voice, or, to be more specific, his diction. He has always over-enunciated every word he sings, the result being that any soulfulness or swing is squeezed out of the songs by what sounds like a prissy, mildly camp public schoolboy. (Donovan did a similar thing - oddly, both of Scottish ancestry.)
In `74 I was lucky enough to attend the Rainbow premiere of Bird on a Wire, a film about Leonard Cohen on his recent European tour. In the foyer afterwards I noticed Al Stewart chatting with Colin Blunstone of the Zombies (great singer, fine group). Even then I had to smile. It was as though like had found like. Two slightly camp singers who sing so pedantically, so precisely! Wonder what they were talking about. No doubt the moving film we`d all just seen, and Cohen`s sheer cool.
So, I can enjoy an album of this quality, lyrically and musically diverse as it is, but I do wish Al would/could allow into his vocals a little less of the dainty-mother-hen-walking-over-eggshells.
I guess he must want us to hear every word. Laudable, but not always so musical.
All in all, though, one of his better albums.
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Location: York UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 76