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The Bickershaw Programme: Al Stewart.

By  Ian Elliott Shircore

   Al Stewart is something of a phenomenon on the British music scene . He has been playing his own distinctive brand of rhythmic acoustic rock since the days when solo performers had backing groups called the Dakotas and singers were still being sent to elocution teachers with Scouse accents. 
    He naturally gravitated towards the folk clubs , simply because they were the only venues at which people were prepared to sit and listen to a solo performer accompanying himself on an acoustic guitar. For several years he travelled the circuit , improving his song writing and gaining both experience and a a strong grass roots reputation and it is only since the musical climate has changed over the last few years that he has had the chance to record and to play to a wider audience.

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        This historical accident has had a strange effect , for many people still regard him as a folk singer , though his music owes more to Chuck Berry and Dylan than the English folk tradition . 
       Until he formed his present band a few months ago, he had not played in a group for nine years. In the new format he is able to give his songs the kind of powerful backing which they have on his album tracks which feature such people as Jimmy Page and the redoubtable Quiver.
       His most successful Lp so far has been Love Chronicles , his second ,  the recently released Orange, contains some of his most controlled writing , including a particularly pneumatic little song called Amsterdam. which shows him at this best , rhythmic , relaxed and very impressive. 

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    Updated May 2023

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