Saturday, 12 January 2019

Al Stewart - Orange (1972)


  

Released January 1972

After the somewhat unfinished feel to "Zero She Flies", with its semi-instrumental short songs, this was a more fulfilled complete album. It is a transitional album, though, very much of its time in its David Bowie "Hunky Dory" era influenced, acoustic rock sound. Rick Wakeman is on piano on both albums as well. This is a light and breezy, soft rock album, but it is all a bit hippy and proggy in many places. Personally, I find it a much more rounded, fully created album than "Zero She Flies", despite its obvious contemporary pretensions and haughtiness. It still has a great early seventies appeal and wonderful quality sound too.

TRACK LISTING

1. You Don't Even Know Me
2. Amsterdam
3. Songs Out Of Clay
4. The News From Spain
5. I Don't Believe You
6. Once An Orange, Always An Orange
7. I'm Falling
8. Night Of The 4th Of May

"You Don't Even Know Me" is a lively country-rock meets glam rock number, with some nostalgic lyrics about back in 1967. "Amsterdam" is another jaunty song with looking back to carefree days in hippy-era Amsterdam. "Songs Out Of Clay" is a narrative tale with some fine soft rock rhythms, mixing acoustic and electric guitars and utilising a very Bowie-esque vocal. It is very much of its time, but none the less appealing for it. "The News From Spain" is an excellent, atmospheric proggy folk rock track, with a great bass sound and some swirling, churchy organ. There is also some wonderful keyboard/strings/Spanish guitar interplay. Rick Wakeman's piano is superb throughout the album, it has to be said. Tim Renwick plays the Spanish guitar.

"I Don't Believe You" is a convincing cover of the Bob Dylan song, with some lovely bass and country style guitar. The instrumental "Once an Orange, Always an Orange" continues the strange fascination with oranges after the previous album's "Small Fruit Song". It contains some intricate finger-picking guitar played over a string backing. It is very classically-influenced. Half way through it changes tone and the guitar becomes deeper and more sonorous. Then at the end it becomes more high-pitched. At times, it has airs of the following year's "Tubular Bells". For me, anyway.

"I'm Falling" is a delightful piece of melodic soft rock. Once again, lovely bass work and a beguiling vocal/lyric. It is just a pleasure to listen to it, actually. Sublime sound on the latest remaster. "Night Of The 4th Of May" is a lengthy narrative tale to finish on, about an ex-lover, it is autobiographical. It is again Bowie-ish and the backing is just superb. Personally, I consider this Al Stewart's best album thus far, much better than "Zero She Flies".

B+

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