Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Past, Present And Future
Genres: Folk, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
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Erik T. (Spikesmusic) from BELLINGHAM, WA
Reviewed on 3/15/2015...
I agree with Roger Hyman and other reviewers: Past, Present and Future is Al's best album!
I knew many of his 1970s hits, but I picked this one up out of curiosity. I've always been fascinated with history and teach it now, so this was right up my alley. He pulls off the songs with a mix of storytelling, image painting and mood setting.
I'd pick "Roads to Moscow" as my favorite. He tells the story so that someone not familiar with history will get it, but puts in details that invite further investigation. For example, I hadn't known about the brilliant but bullheaded General Guderian, master strategist of the German tank corps.
As well, "Warren Harding" is such an oddball song, a glancing into the personal musings of one of America's most unqualified, overwhelmed presidents thus put to a calypso beat, that I can't help but singing it sometimes. "I just want someone to talk to, talk to..."
My only beef is a technical one: as of this review (March 2015) this CD has not been remastered, so the levels are waaay lower than other CDs. It's a problem when I play this (worthy) CD on the radio. If you still have a record player, I recommend rescuing a copy of the vinyl until that changes. Otherwise, get this CD anyway and crank it up.
Who would have thought
Leonard Fleisig | Here, there and everywhere | 03/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"that an album like Al Stewart's Past Present and Future could ever have been produced? I can imagine the look on the face of Al Stewart's record producer when he told him about his idea for a "concept album". Perhaps something like "Ill start with a song about retired British navy officers, follow it up with a song about President Warren G. Harding, Then, after a song about Soho in London, one about a night of Nazi terror followed by a British take-off of Don MacLean's "American Pie". Oh, and did I tell you I also have one about a Red Army soldier's experience in World War II and a song about the supposed prophet of the future, Nostradamus." Somehow I cannot see a record like this being made today. But, this was England in 1973 and, fortunately, some producer said something like "uh, sure Al, go ahead mate". When I first heard this album, in England in 1973/1974 I probably said something like "Nostradamus? Wow man" and played the album over and over again. I have listened to this CD quite a bit recently and am happy to note that my current reaction is not much different from my college age response.
Past, Present and Future is a memorable album in many respects. Stewart is an accomplished songwriter and every one of these tracks is well written, some are, and remain, brilliant. His voice works well for the music and he put together a set of studio musicians that provided excellent backing and a strong rhythm section.
Stewart is at his best in Roads to Moscow. He sings it as a ballad with an excellent orchestral arrangement that creates a very Russian mood. As he sings the tale of a Red Army solider from the 1st days of the Germany invasion through the triumphant entry into Berlin he provides an extraordinary of the war itself. The fact that the soldier soon finds himself on a train to the Gulag creates a powerful end point for the song. In the liner notes that accompany this CD Stewart indicated that he was a student of Russian history. Stewart's knowledge shows quite clearly without its being intrusive. His Post World War II Blues is also particularly good even if one can see quite clearly its American Pie influence. The only song that has not stood up to the test of time is the closing track, Nostradamus. The lyrics are still fun but seem quite dated in retrospect. I guess know that my younger days are long past I don't have too many of those "far out, man" moments any more.
Ultimately, this album is well worth a listen. Stewart is not as well known or remembered as he should be perhaps and Past Present and Future finds him at his best.
Al Stewart's BEST
Roger D. Hyman | Knoxville, TN USA | 03/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Time Passages" is good; "Year of the Cat" uniformly excellent; but "Past, Present & Future" is THE BEST album by Al Stewart. Every song tells a wonderful story, and the music is just fantastic.
Others have corrected the gentleman who claimed "Roads to Moscow" was based on the experiences of a soldier in Napoleon's "Grande Armee" of 1812; sorry, but no. The original liner notes made clear that the album tells the story of the 20th Century, and the lyrics (Gen. Heinz Guderian was commander of Hitler's Army Group Center in 1941!--and the final approach to Berlin--not Paris!!) makes one wonder whether that gentleman even listened to the song!
More importantly,for those too young to remember, this album came out shortly after two major works by famed Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn: A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, and The Gulag Archipelago. "Roads to Moscow" is actually a tribute to Solzhenitsyn, whose real-life experiences as a Red Army Soldier during WWII was more or less what the "unnamed soldier" tells about. This is because Stalin's policy towards Soviet POW's was extremely harsh; even those held only a short time were suspected of being either collaborators, or else "poisoned" by their "exposure" to "bourgieous capitalism", thus requiring "reeducation" in Siberia . . .!
Solzhenitsyn was a victim of just such treatment. Point is . . .the song is even better when you understand the real context and the real tribute.
In any event--this is THE ONE!!!"