Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Al Stewart

  • Love Chronicles [Epic, 1970] B+
  • Year of the Cat [Janus, 1976] B-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Love Chronicles [Epic, 1970]
A landmark: the first rock record to use the word "fuck" ("fucking," actually) at the end of a line, an achievement typical of its occasional flaws--the rhyming word, "plucking," is forced--and unrepresentative of its success. The eighteen-minute title cut is a decent, serious, and touching reminiscence of sexual growth that for all its male bias is recommended to songwriters reluctant to shed their adolescence. The other songs are well-observed despite their sentimental tendencies, and guest guitarist Jimmy Page proves that folk-rock is his metier. B+

Year of the Cat [Janus, 1976]
Rather than gothics or sci-fi, Stewart goes for historical novels, and as long as he shuts up about Nostradamus--who inspired last year's Past, Present and Future, you'll remember--I say good for him. Well, actually the historical note is limited this time out to one song about Lord Grenville and references to Leonardo, phantom harlequins, etc. The prevailing tone is more spy-novel. I ask you, did Eric Ambler have an ear for melody? B-

Further Notes:

Everything Rocks and Nothing Ever Dies [1990s]