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Al Stewart


Sparks of Ancient Light

Sparks of Ancient Light


1Lord Salisbury 
2(A Child's View of) The Eisenhower Years 
3The Ear of the Night 
4Hanno the Navigator 
5Shah of Shahs 
6Angry Bird 
7The Loneliest Place on the Map 
9Football Hero 
10Elvis at the Wheel 
11Silver Kettle 
12Like William McKinley 

Review by Cort McMurray

The lyrics, with few exceptions, are among the strongest of his career. Laurence Juber's production is stellar throughout: the Purcell-like trumpet in "Lord Salisbury" beautifully evokes the sea-girdled isolation of pre-Edwardian England; the guitar lines in "Elvis At The Wheel" invest a song that could have easily become a lampoon with the strange mix of piety and paranoia that was Elvis Presley.

There are some mildly weak moments: (A Child's View Of) The Eisenhower Years" is in some ways just an American reworking of "Post World War Two Blues", with a melody borrowed from "Another Face In The Crowd", a song that's been kicking around unrecorded since the "Time Passages" days. "Football Hero" plays like it was written and performed by people who think sport is very silly, indeed.

But the rest of the work -- the beautiful, jazzy intro to "The Ear of the Night", filled with Juber's tasteful playing, the lyrical brilliance of "Shah of Shahs" and "Lord Salisbury", the infectious melody of "Hanno The Navigator" -- make this an album to be treasured. "A Beach Full of Shells" was a masterwork, showing Stewart at the height of his lyrical and musical powers. This record is a worthy companion to its predecessor.

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