September 5, 2017

20,000 Vinyl LPs 107: Al Stewart - Past, Present and Future

vinyl LP album cover detail 
detail photo by Styrous®

Today, September 5, is the birthday of Al Stewart who was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1945. Stewart produced some excellent albums but, of course, I have a favorite. That album is, Past, Present and Future. What a fantastic album it is! The songs are based on historical events some of which never happened.     

vinyl LP album cover 
photo by Styrous®

vinyl LP album back cover 
photo by Styrous®


Of course, I have favorite songs from it; two of which are Old Admirals and Nostradamus. Old Admirals is a slow and nostalgic musing on the fact that the knowledge of the Admiral's years of experience is for naught; he is from a world whose time has come and gone, rendered irrelevant by the progress of technologies. But still, there is the lingering hope that he will be useful again one day.

Old Admirals who feel the wind but never put to sea.
(link to lyrics below)

vinyl LP record sleeve w/lyrics 
photo by Styrous®

vinyl LP record sleeve detail w/lyrics 
detail photo by Styrous®

Nostradamus is a tour de force; at almost ten minutes it has plenty of time to wander around with gay abandon. After a mellow guitar and vocal duet intro (2 minutes) it goes into a joyous exposition of the predictions of the Seer. The instrumental sections are wonderful and the vocal backup at the end by Krysia Kocjan is totally sublime.     

Man, man, your time is sand, your ways are leaves upon the sea
I am the eyes of Nostradamus, all your ways are known to me
(link to lyrics below

vinyl LP album back cover detail 
detail photo by Styrous®

Roads To Moscow has a slow, quiet guitar and balalaika intro that goes into a mellow waltz with a beautiful female chorus backing that speeds up and gets dramatic. The story is of a German soldier taken prisoner and transported to a damp transit camp during World War II. 

And I wonder when I'll be home again and the morning answers
And the evening sighs and the steely Russian skies go on forever
(link to lyrics below)


Terminal Eyes has a Beatles, I am the Walrus, feeling to it; syncopated and bouncy it moves along with a relentless determination. The lyrics are just as mystifying as Walrus

Cut glass porcupine sailing on the Serpentine
Fingers on the skyline pulling down the black blinds
Terminal eyes at the edge of the night
(link to lyrics below)

vinyl LP album cover detail 
detail photo by Styrous®

My copy of this album is a promotional recording meant to be distributed to broadcasters, such as music radio and television stations, and to DJs and music journalists, in advance of the release of commercial editions.        

vinyl LP album cover detail 
detail photo by Styrous®

vinyl LP album back cover detail 
detail photo by Styrous®

Stewart followed Past, Present and Future with Modern Times (1975), in which the songs were lighter on historical references and more of a return to the theme of short stories set to music. Significantly, though, it was the first of his albums to be produced by Alan Parsons.    

vinyl LP album cover detail 
detail photo by Styrous®

Stewart is best known for his 1976 hit single Year of the Cat, the title song from the platinum album of the same name. Though Year of the Cat and its 1978 platinum follow-up Time Passages brought Stewart his biggest worldwide commercial successes, earlier albums such as Past, Present and Future from 1973 are often seen as better examples of his intimate brand of historical folk-rock.

His Love Chronicles (1969) was notable for the 18-minute title track, an anguished autobiographical tale of sexual encounters that was the first mainstream record release ever to include the word "fucking". The song is sort of a precursor to It Was a Very Good Year by Sinatra and 88 Lines about 44 Women by the Nails. It was voted "Folk Album of the Year" by the UK music magazine Melody Maker and features Jimmy Page and Richard Thompson on guitar. To be honest, the song does go on and after the first hearing, I could never listen to the song all the way through.     

vinyl LP album back cover detail 
detail photo by Styrous®

Stewart was a key figure in British music and he appears throughout the musical folklore of the revivalist era. He played at the first-ever Glastonbury Festival in 1970, knew Yoko Ono before she met John Lennon, shared a London flat with a young Paul Simon,      

Stewart has worked with Peter White, Alan Parsons, Jimmy Page, Richard Thompson, Rick Wakeman, Francis Monkman, Tori Amos, Tim Renwick, Dave Nachmanoff and former Wings lead-guitarist Laurence Juber.      

vinyl LP album back cover detail 
detail photo by Styrous®

Stewart grew up in the town of Wimborne, Dorset, England, after moving from Scotland with his mother, Joan Underwood. His father, Alastair MacKichan Stewart, who served as a flight lieutenant in the Royal Air Force volunteer reserve, died in a plane crash during a 1945 training exercise before Stewart was born. After that, as he sings in the song Post World War II Blues (from Past, Present and Future): "I came up to London when I was 19 with a corduroy jacket and a head full of dreams." (link below)       

photographer & date unknown

He bought his first guitar from future Police guitarist Andy Summers, Stewart traded in his electric guitar for an acoustic guitar when he was offered a weekly slot at Bunjies Coffee House in London's Soho in 1965. From there, he went on to compete at the Les Cousins folk club on Greek Street, where he played alongside Cat Stevens, Bert Jansch, Van Morrison, Roy Harper, Ralph McTell and Paul Simon, with whom he shared a flat in Dellow Road, Stepney, London.          

Al Stewart - February 13, 2010

vinyl LP album back cover detail 
detail photo by Styrous®


vinyl LP, Side 1
photos by Styrous®

vinyl LP, side 2
photos by Styrous®


Side 1:

A1 - Old Admirals - 5:54
A2 - Warren Harding - 2:39
A3 - Soho (Needless To Say) - 3:55
A4 - The Last Day Of June 1934 - 4:45
A5 - Post World War Two Blues - 4:17

Side 2:

B1 - Roads To Moscow - 8:00
B2 - Terminal Eyes - 3:22
B3 - Nostradamus - 9:46

Companies, etc.

    Manufactured By – Arista Records, Inc.
    Published By – Dick James Music
    Produced For – Kinetic Productions Ltd.
    Mastered At – Allen Zentz Mastering
    Phonographic Copyright (p) – Arista Records, Inc.
    Copyright (c) – Gwyneth Music Ltd.


    Acoustic Guitar – Peter Berryman*
    Acoustic Guitar, Guitar [Spanish] – Isaac Guillory
    Artwork [Graphics] – George Hardie
    Backing Vocals – John Donelly, Kevin Powers, Krysia Kocjan, Mick Welton
    Bass – Brian Odgers, Bruce Thomas
    Concertina [English] – Alistair Anderson
    Design [Cover], Photography By – Hipgnosis (2)
    Drums – John Wilson*
    Electric Guitar – Tim Renwick
    Engineer – Mike Stone
    Harmonica – Graham Smith
    Keyboards – Bob Andrews, Bob Sargeant, Rick Wakeman, Tim Hinkley
    Keyboards, Accordion [Piano] – Peter Woods*
    Mandolin – Dave Swarbrick, Haim Romano
    Percussion – Frank Ricotti, Roger Meddows Taylor*
    Performer [Steel Band] – Lennox James, Luciano Bravo, Michael Oliver (4)
    Photography By [Back] – Jill Furmanovski*
    Producer – John Anthony
    Remastered By – Chris Bellman
    Steel Guitar – B.J. Cole*
    Synthesizer [Moog] – Francis Monkman
    Written-By, Acoustic Guitar – Al Stewart


Lyrics printed on the inner sleeve.
Barcode and Other Identifiers

    Matrix / Runout (Label Side A): AL 9524 SA
    Matrix / Runout (Label Side B): AL 9524 SB
    Matrix / Runout (Etched Side A): AL-9524 SA P
    Matrix / Runout (Etched Side B): AL-9524-SB
    Matrix / Runout (Stamped Both Side): MASTERED AT ALLEN ZENTZ L.A.,CALIF.
    Rights Society: BMI

Al Stewart ‎– Past, Present And Future
Label: Arista ‎– AL 9524
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue
Country: US
Released: 1980
Genre: Rock, Pop
Style: Pop Rock


Net links:                  
Al Stewart Discography
Old Admirals lyrics         
Nostradamus lyrics         
Road To Moscow lyrics   
Terminal Eyes lyrics
YouTube links:                  
Old Admirals (with lyrics)         
Nostradamus (with lyrics)         
Post World War II Blues (with lyrics)      
Roads To Moscow (with lyrics)                  
Terminal Eyes
Love Chronicles (18 minutes)      
The Beatles - I Am The Walrus         

Happy birthday, Al, may your sailing be smooth!

Styrous® ~ Tuesday, September 5, 2017

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