Sunday , February 25 2024
For fans who want to capture the live sound of Al Stewart at his peak, this is it.

Music Review: Al Stewart — Live: Indian Summer

Live: Indian Summer is a reissue of the 1981 live double album from Al Stewart, and this is the first time it has ever been released in its entirety on CD. The first five tracks are studio mixes and these tracks appeared on the CD release of 24 Carrots as bonus tracks. The rest of the tracks are the live show and are the same tracks as were released on the CD Live at the Roxy.

The quality of the reissue is very good. The sound is clear and the mix is good. This album is the result of an effort to try and salvage the financial disappointment of the 24 Carrots release. Management decided to book a couple days at the Roxy on the Sunset Strip. Luke O’Reilly, Stewart’s manager at the time, hired the band Shot In The Dark, who also worked as an opener for Stewart. He also contracted a 10-piece string section that ended up playing in the balcony behind Plexiglas.

Because of the rush to set up, the mobile recording studio, and the size of the club, this album needed studio work to fix up some of the deficits, and that was the reason some of the tracks became studio cuts. Although these tunes had been played at the Roxy show, when they decided to rerecord them in the studio, and got them done in first takes, it was determined the studio versions were better, so they became part of the album.

Some of the highlights are “Here in Angola,” “Pandora,” and “Princess Olivia.” Those three tracks are the best of the studio releases. They are traditional Stewart compilations and are done quite well.

The live set begins with “Running Man.” Again here the quality of the mix is very good, as is the sound. “Time Passages,” which is not one of Stewart’s favorites, is much better than the version on Rhymes in Rooms. “Merlin’s Time” is a pleasant tune.

They kick it up with “If it Doesn’t Come Naturally,” and some of the sax part is what makes it work. “Roads to Moscow” is performed with power, and the Russian theme flowing throughout gives it its atmosphere. “Nostradamus” is also much more dynamic than on the Rhymes in Rooms album and comes across really well. The remaining tracks all live up to a quality live recording as well.

Is this a great album? Probably not. Is this a good album? Yes, for the experience of hearing Stewart live close to the time of his heyday, this is probably as close as it comes. The songs come through and it has the quality of a well mixed live recording, even though it was not set up that way. I think that if you are an Al Stewart fan and you want to capture that sound of him at his peak, then this is a good album to do it with.

Live Indian Summer Song Listing:
Here in Angola
Indian Summer
Delia’s Gone
Princess Olivia
Running Man
Time Passages
Merlin’s Time
If It Doesn’t Come Naturally, Leave It
Roads to Moscow
Nostradamus, Pt. 1
Soho (Needless to Say)
On the Border
Valentina Way
Clarence Frogman Henry
Year of the Cat

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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