Friday, May 2, 2014

Al Stewart - Russians and Americans

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Russians and Americans, the tenth studio album from Scottish singer-songwriter Al Stewart. It went to number 83 on the UK charts. The track listing of side one of this 1984 album differed slightly from the UK to the US releases. I will give the review of the US order listing today.

Side one opens with "The One That Got Away", a song of love and loss. I like the sweet saxophone that supports this one through out.

"Rumours of War" is about a woman who has gone through and barely survived a difficult situation.

"Night Meeting" has a very dominant guitar riff on the verses that clicks off like a second hand on a clock. It sets a tense mood for the track. There are also two other distinct guitar solos in the middle of the track as well, even as this first riff keeps time.

"Accident on 3rd Street" is a piano-based tale of tragedy. It reminds me a bit of a 60's Lou Reed or Bob Dylan song.

Side two starts "Strange Girl", a curious character study. I like how Stewart keeps pace with the rhythm as he rattles off facts about this intriguing young woman. As my favorite track on the record so far, I think it might have made a good single.

The title track "Russians and Americans" is next. It is a fitting song for the height of the Cold War era.

The piano-based ballad "Café Society" tells of the desire for a late night hook-up.

"One, Two Three (1, 2, 3)" is a new spin on the 1965 hit song written and recorded by Len Barry. Stewart adds his own political lyrics though to bring the song into a new decade. I think the end result works very well.

"The Candidate", a song set at a political fundraiser with a very poor turnout, closes the album.

Russians and Americans is also one of those hard to locate albums (I honestly had not heard of it until it came up on my list of 1984 releases). I went to YouTube again for to listen to it for this review and liked what I heard. Al Stewart has one of those voices that are honest and inviting. I know I would not have appreciated this one much back in 1984, with my limited life experience; today I can really enjoy the lyrical imagery of Stewart's songwriting.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Was completely unaware of the existence of this album until your post. I'll check it out - like you, I've always liked the timbre of his voice.