The Very Best of Al Stewart (2002), from Dutch EMI, is one of the few collections of Stewart's classic work to surface since the late '80s. The CD encompasses Stewart's music from "The Elf," his 1966 debut single, up to 1984's "The Candidate"; limited to 16 songs, it has some gaps, to be sure, amid the presence of hits such as "Year of the Cat" and "On the Border" (neither of which ever sounded better) -- the producers have found room to append live versions of the latter two songs as bonus tracks, but in the process have also omitted "Nostradamus." On the plus side, "Roads to Moscow" is here (in a superb but undesignated live version), as is the studio version of "Time Passages," and early fare like "Zero She Flies" is also represented, and they all sound astonishingly good. On a purely sonic level, this disc far outstrips the Arista Best of Al Stewart and other prior reissues of his classic early material. Someday, however, one would like to see a better-organized, fully comprehensive collection of Stewart's work.
AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder