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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Al Stewart

Orange

Review by Gary Hill

As I’ve mentioned in my other reviews of his music, Al Stewart doesn’t believe that he’s prog rock. A lot of music fans, however, consider him to be. If anything, this album is among the most decidedly prog of his catalog. It’s certain that prog rock fandom probably has a lot of Al Stewart fans. So, I include him under that heading. The reissued and expanded version of his Orange album sounds great. There is so much awesome music here. I’d have to say that this is one of my favorite albums from him. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who has ever enjoyed Stewart’s music.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
You Don't Even Know Me

There is a bouncy rock vibe to this cut. It’s catchy and dynamic. It’s also fun. Some elements do bring a bit of a prog sound to the piece. There is definitely a psychedelic edge here, too. It gets a bit Beatles like in some of the later sections, too. Those are definitely proggy.

Amsterdam
More of a bouncy jam band kind of piece, this is fun. It’s not prog rock, but it’s cool.
Songs out of Clay
Now, I have no question that this is progressive rock. It’s along the lines of folk prog like The Strawbs. That said, it doesn’t matter what you call it, because it’s such a pretty and powerful piece of music. The vocals are poignant, and the whole piece works so well.
The News from Spain
I would make the same prog comments about this. The piano on this piece is great. So are the strings. The whole song itself is so dramatic and beautiful, though. It’s another that is a standout. The later sections of this are so passionate and potent.
I Don't Believe You
This is more of a classic psychedelic rocker. It’s fun. I love the bass work on this. Then again, the whole thing works well. Being a bass player, though, that really speaks to me.
Once An Orange, Always An Orange
With classical music, psychedelia and more, this is very much a prog rock piece. The centerpiece of this instrumental is an acoustic guitar solo.
I'm Falling
Psychedelia, prog rock and more merge on this stunning piece of music. I love how the guitar just solos over a lot of the piece. The vocal hooks are powerful and engaging. The whole piece is especially effective. It makes great use of both acoustic and electric instrumentation.
Night of 4th of May

 More of a straight rocker, this is instantly recognizable as Al Stewart. It is a cool story. It does have some proto-prog elements. I really like the electric guitar, organ and the bass. The later fast paced section gets more along the lines of progressive rock. There’s sort of a false ending that gives way to a decidedly prog rock based section. I like the organ on that part. Then again, there is not a part of this I don’t like.

Bonus Tracks
   
Elvaston Place

A psychedelic folk rocker, this is classy stuff.

The News from Spain (Single Version)
This is, as the title says, a single version of the earlier song. It’s very potent in this form, too.
 
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