Al Stewart

Al Stewart Live: Rhymes in Rooms

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Sometimes the most unexpected jewels can be crystallized in adversity -- this album was a case in point, the indirect result of the financial collapse of Enigma Records, to which Al Stewart had been signed, in 1990. In tandem with Peter White, Stewart went out on the road, and the resulting 11-song album was duly issued on EMI (which was still Stewart's label, outside of the United States). There actually wasn't any shortage of live Al Stewart material in the can, but Rhymes in Rooms allowed him to deliver fresh reinterpretations of his best-known songs, this time out all-acoustic and in a more intimate setting than his earlier live recordings -- with a full band -- had permitted. The results are pleasing and never repetitive, even for those who are extremely familiar with the original versions. Stewart's and White's extended intros and vamps on the most familiar fare here are delightful, and the intimacy and immediacy of the setting and recording allow Stewart to add some new inflections and directions to the vintage material, which goes back more than 20 years in his career.

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