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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At Last, An Al Stewart & Dave Nachamoff CD
In 1992 Al Stewart and his then-guitar accompanist Peter White recorded a live acoustic CD called Rhymes in Rooms. On the disc, Stewart and White performed eleven songs including "Year of the Cat" and "Time Passages", which were top ten hits in the late 1970s.

Fast forward to 2009: Much to the delight of their fans (and those who might be about to become fans)...
Published on December 8, 2009 by J. Clark

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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great songs, bad recording
I'm a big fan of Al Stewart and I enjoyed the song selection in this live recording. The quality of the recording is another matter. It sounded like the digital equivalent of an Edison wax cylinder. Very harsh.
Published on September 18, 2010 by Schrödinger


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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At Last, An Al Stewart & Dave Nachamoff CD, December 8, 2009
By 
This review is from: Uncorked (MP3 Music)
In 1992 Al Stewart and his then-guitar accompanist Peter White recorded a live acoustic CD called Rhymes in Rooms. On the disc, Stewart and White performed eleven songs including "Year of the Cat" and "Time Passages", which were top ten hits in the late 1970s.

Fast forward to 2009: Much to the delight of their fans (and those who might be about to become fans) Al and his current touring guitarist, Dave Nachmanoff, have just released their own unique collection of live acoustic songs that richly draw from Stewart's vast breadth of work, called Uncorked (a nod to both wine - Stewart is a wine expert - and being "unplugged").

The first thing I noticed upon reading the track listing is that it's a set of music longtime fans can truly enjoy. The live versions of these songs consist of material originally recorded from 1967 ("Bedsitter Images") through 1988 ("Last Days of the Century"). There's also a rarity thrown in for good measure ("Coldest Winter"). No hits or anything that came close to a hit appears on the disc. And I'm more than good with that.

Lyrically, Uncorked plays to Al Stewart's strengths. Intelligently written, historically based songs such as "Palace of Versailles", "Warren Harding" and "Old Admirals" are solid choices. I remember them as examples of songs that sent me scurrying to the library to learn what they were about, in days well before the internet reduced exponentially the time required to do such a thing.

As for the music side of things, Stewart's voice may have a few more rough edges compared to the "smooth as glass" sound from twenty years ago, but he's still easy to listen to. Nachmanoff's nifty guitar work sails through the set adding texture as though he's been playing Al's songs his entire life. Well, actually that's because he has.

He handled parts that were once done with a piano decades ago ("The News from Spain") with his acoustic guitar and didn't miss a step. On other songs, I wondered how he could get his instrument to make such varied and unique notes ("Midas Shadow").

Recorded at three different venues during a Northeastern U.S. tour in 2008, the production is clear and crisp, as good as or better than being there in person.

One of the pleasures of experiencing an Al Stewart/Dave Nachmanoff concert is the witty repartee in between songs. There's a sampling of that on this disc called "Auctioning Dave". Having heard a large number of Al's stories over the years (many of them several times, in fact), I did enjoy the quirkiness of this segment but also wondered whether there may have been another choice that would connect with the listener to a greater degree. (Although there just might be a hidden dialogue track at the end of the last song on the disk, wink wink).

Ultimately, Uncorked is a solid and timely effort both in terms of Al Stewart's long career and as a showcase of Dave Nachmanoff's talent as a guitarist. The disc is well worth owning whether you're an Al Stewart completist or someone who wants a good representation of what it's like to be in the audience at an Al Stewart/Dave Nachmanoff concert.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great live recording with a welcome song selection, November 10, 2009
By 
This review is from: Uncorked (Audio CD)
If one could hire Al Stewart and Dave Nachmanoff for a largish house concert (requiring electric guitars), it would sound just like this recording. The songs run the gamut of Al's prolific and terrific songwriting career, and they are given energetic treatment. Al sings in fine voice with Dave providing occasional harmonies; and both provide a supportive guitar backing with Dave frequently pulling off riffs that echo the great instrumental work used in the original studio releases.

In listening to the recording, I was reminded of the various Al Stewart concerts I'd attended, going all the way back to 1976 in my case, with several songs heard (by me) live for the first time ever, from his earliest work plus Princess Olivia from the early 80s. And... a song voted by a fan group as the best Al song never recorded, The Coldest Winter in Memory, which actually is a rather strong song for it is a gem, and so it finally finds a good home. Old Admirals, one of my all time favorites, provides a great finale to the set.

In between a few songs, we are treated to some of the humorous and clever bantering between Al and Dave that always make a live show more fun, and also one story about Al's move to New York City early in his career.

I actually have a couple live Al Stewart CDs that are excellent, and I was skeptical that this would be particularly memorable; however, the song selection, the guitar wizardry of Dave Nachmanoff, and the excellent live recording quality make this a welcome addition to any Al Stewart fan's music library.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great addition, and could make a fine start, November 29, 2009
This review is from: Uncorked (Audio CD)
I like live albums, and not everyone does. To reassure readers, the production and recording of this album is excellent, and the song selection doesn't duplicate past live releases -- something both Al and Dave wanted (as I understand it). But does this add anything new?

Yes! An unexpected medley of "Last Days of the Century/Constantinople/Last Days" kicks off the album; it's the sort of surprise that make live albums enjoyable. The next song, "Coldest Winter" is quite obscure, but very well-written, and dramatizes a slice of history in a way Stewart fans prize. Later, Nachmanoff covers Rick Wakeman's piano solo from the studio version of "News From Spain" on a guitar, and he totally nails it.

Stewart is in good voice throughout. I enjoy the arrangements for two guitars, and the judicious use of harmony vocals. There's only a smattering of Al's between-song story-telling, editing that's an appropriate for most listeners. But he can be hilarious, so the 1:11 taken for "auctioning Dave" doesn't intrude on the musical ambience.

If you'd never heard these two play, and knew little of Stewart, this would be a fine place to start. The "Rhymes In Rooms" album contains more familiar material, and set a high standard for duo albums. This rises to equivalent heights. For most fans, this will be a welcome addition to their collections, whether you already have a dozen discs or just a few.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just you, Al, Dave and some incredible music, December 1, 2009
This review is from: Uncorked (Audio CD)
This is an incredible all-acoustic, two-guitar, unplugged album chock full some of the best, unknown songs by Al Stewart. They are played and sung in an intimate style by Stewart and his virtuoso, musical partner Dave Nachmanoff. You may not have heard these songs before, but you'll want to hear them again and again... and then play them for your friends and family to share the wealth.

I have always enjoyed Al Stewart's music but am certainly not what you would call an aficionado. Sure, I know most of the words to Year of the Cat and can sing along with the chorus of Time Passages, but I haven't delved deep into the great recesses of Stewart's back catalog. So why in the world would I want a full album of Stewart's lesser known works?

Well, first and foremost listening to this album is as close to a live performance as you will ever get on CD. It is as though Al and Dave just dropped by your living room to play you a few tunes. This album is all acoustic and has less liquid studio poured into it than any album that I have ever heard. Stewart and Nachmanoff have preferred a coarser, rawer, more organic sound and let the two guitars play without preprocessing or unnecessary amperage. This treatment transforms these songs from their softer versions, and takes them back to Stewart's British folk-rock roots. If you ever thought that Al Stewart's music was just too darn smooth, get ready for this album to blow you away.

The acoustic treatment lets you actually listen to the songs, unimpeded by unnecessary technology. You hear the words and the soaring melodies as you have never heard them before. Do the test. Pick any song from the album samples above and then find its Doppelganger on one of Stewart's past albums. Same song. Same words. But the emotions on Uncorked are more immediate, right there at your finger tips. With nothing between you and the artist, the music is somehow clearer, more here and now, and you pay more attention to the words. You begin to realize the power of these songs in a way you may have overlooked before.

And then there's the instrumental side. Al Stewart can strum with the best of them, but Dave Nachmanoff can really make an acoustic riff just shine. Nachmanoff knows these songs from the inside out and delivers the perfect lead to Al's backup strum. Both musicians have an obvious affection for one another and that shoots through in their music. There's nothing canned about the performance. Nachmanoff delivers on a single take, producing solos that are truly a homage to Peter White (longtime lead guitarist for Stewart) but not a carbon copy. What Nachmanoff delivers is an inspired, fresh, and authentic interpretation. And when the voices and the music come together as they do on this album, it's musical nirvana.

My favorite tracks on this album are News From Spain and Midas Shadow. News From Spain was always a great song, but really shines anew on Uncorked. Stewart's voice is still as silky as ever, but the new, acoustic sound adds some gritty contrast that really gives this song some teeth. It also gives Nachmanoff an opportunity to show you his artistic chops, lending some flamenco blandishments and a mid-song solo that will make you want to break in a new pair of castanets. The Uncorked version of Midas Shadow has more of a feeling of loss and has more power than it does in its original treatment. Once again, Stewart's voice soars above Nachmanoff's gutsy guitar work. And it all blends together into something that has more of that edge-of-the-seat excitement that will make your hair stand on end. The excitement, of course, was always there in Stewart's songs. It just took Uncorked for me to completely realize it. Highly recommended.

All and all, this is more than just a worthy effort or some kind of 'greatest hits' album. This album appears to have been released with little fanfare (except, I suppose, to Stewart's faithful listeners). That's too bad, because it's an in incredible gem of a CD--a real find, that any listener could appreciate should they have the luck to uncover it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Desperately seeking Uncorked 2, December 23, 2009
By 
Thomas J. Grier (Statesville, NC USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Uncorked (Audio CD)
As a long-time fan of Al Stewart's music and songwriting, I was intrigued by the news that he was planning a tour supporting a new CD of acoustic live performances. The fact that the CD, Uncorked, contained songs not considered among Al's "greatest hits" and also not found on his earlier collection of live songs piqued my interest even more, as most of my favorite Al songs are some of his least known tunes and stories. What I found after playing the songs on Uncorked was beyond anything I could have expected.

First of all, Al's rhythm guitar and vocals have held up wonderfully and, in some ways, seem more vibrant and tight on the new songs. The greatest surprise was discovering the incredible guitar and vocal support of Dave Nachmanoff on every song in this collection. The synergy that Al and Dave play with is nothing short of miraculous, and the haunting solos combined with their abilities to bring out the best in each other, makes for a listening experience that stands alone and gets better every time the CD is played.

I was fortunate to be able to see Al and Dave in concert in my home town recently, and as amazing as the CD is, seeing them play these songs live adds so much more to the pleasure of listening to them. On top of their musical performances, both men are very gracious with fans and made that night for this fan one that I will never forget.

Three songs stand out in the collection for me, "Coldest Winter", "Life in Dark Water" from "Time Passages", and the amazing "News from Spain", featuring a solo by Dave that will make you wonder "how does he play those notes?" I sat right in front of him and still couldn't figure it out. But it was fun to try.

I hope Al and Dave continue to play together and consider recording more of the songs they play live for Uncorked 2. I have no doubt that it will be on a par with this outstanding collection.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonished, November 17, 2009
This review is from: Uncorked (Audio CD)
When I asked Al to autograph my copy of "Uncorked" at a recent concert in Steeleville, Missouri, he did so and asked me as he shoved it back, "What did you think of this thing?" I thought I heard disparagement in his tone but I only hesitated a moment to tell him that I was astonished. Now it was his turn to hesitate as he asked me to repeat the comment, and he seemed surprised that I liked it so much. I'm not normally given to such hyperbole, but right from the opening chords, I've been stunned at the energy and beauty of this CD and I don't think I've ever heard another live album that sounds so good. Dave's playing adds enormously to it, but it's as if there were something much deeper and more magical about the energy these two share on stage that makes it what it is. I can't help but feel that Dave Nachmanoff must be helping to keep Al playing and has made possible this addition to his collection of recorded treasures. Just as for another reviewer, I've never been all that wild about "Rhymes in Rooms," but this has an energy one would not have expected from Stewart these many years later. Al told me that he was "not very keen to make another album" after 20 of them, and I found myself hoping he would still find some outlet for songwriting and the obvious joy he finds in performing. Perhaps Dave will encourage him to do more such live recordings and spare Al the work of the laborious studio albums. If that could keep him going, this fan would be most thankful.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Advanced Al Stewart Listening, October 8, 2009
By 
Bornintime (The East Coast) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Uncorked (Audio CD)
Wow. This is a great guitars only acoustic CD on a number of different levels, especially if you are a hardcore Al Stewart fan. It has been reported that when Al allowed Dave Nachmanoff to put this out that one of the stipulations was that none of the songs duplicate the tracks on Al's 1992 live acoustic CD Rhymes In Rooms with Peter White. (I'm sure I'm in the minority but I'm not crazy about Rhymes In Rooms; the production sounds off to me and the twin guitars sound too lush for me to enjoy often.) The fact that none of Al's greatest hits (Year Of The Cat, On The Border, Time Passages, Roads To Moscow, Soho, etc.) appear on Uncorked is a wonderful thing! I've heard umpteen versions of these on live albums and fan club soundboards and it is great to hear 12 rarer tracks. If you are a casual fan don't hesitate to buy this. Al has been a great songwriter for over 40 years and could certainly play 4 or 5 solid nights in a row without duplicating songs. Dave Nachmanoff's guitar playing is wonderful here - intricate, full and rich without being overpowering. It blends well with Al's voice, which sounds as good as ever - timeless. Dave also ably provides understated background vocals. The production on the cd is perfect and serves the music well. All in all an essential CD to own for any Al fan.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable, December 22, 2010
This review is from: Uncorked (Audio CD)
I grew up with two brothers who are die-hard Al fans, to this day, and I was always hearing his music in the house. They know all the songs on the big albums as well as the lesser-known albums - the ones you can't find anywhere now. I've always been a minor fan of Al's, liking "On the Boarder" best. However, I'm a die-hard Dave Nachmanoff fan, and I've seen many of their shows, and I was thrilled that they did a live album featuring Dave.

I think it's great that Al's big hits aren't on this CD. They've been done to death and you can still hear them on any classic rock station or Sirius/XM 70's. "News From Spain" is unbelievable. It starts with Al's comment about Dave's having to duplicate Rick Wakeman's piano work from the original. Well, I listened to Wakeman's piano, and frankly Dave's guitar work is more impressive. Dave can get as much texture from a single guitar with six strings as Wakeman got out of an 88-key piano. "Running Man" and "Warren Harding" are also longtime favorites, and Al and Dave nailed them.

Buy this CD if you know anything about Al Stewart. Buy this CD if you want to hear one of the best guitarists on the planet, Dave Nachmanoff. Buy Dave's CDs. You won't be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasing to the Inner Troubadour, December 20, 2009
This review is from: Uncorked (MP3 Music)
I just downloaded "Uncorked", and found that the marriage between these two artist styles, created surprisingly new sides to songs that have become cherished old friends over the years. Guitarist Dave Nachmanoff weaves and tap dances around Al's lyric's to the point that it elevates the songs to a whole new level of enjoyment! The arrangement of Al's standards in "Uncorked" is akin to curling up with good book that is slightly tattered from all the readings, but the cover has been rebound, making the feel lovely to hold, yet still entertaining and most beloved to my inner troubadour.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Duo give acoustic twist on lesser known Al songs, June 9, 2010
By 
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This review is from: Uncorked (Audio CD)
Al has found the perfect live performance partner in Dave Nachmanoff. The duo are captured in spirited performances of these Stewart songs. Both men are accomplished acoustic guitarists and Nachmanoff is able to provide backing vocals for enhancement. The disc's opening track, a medley of "Last Days of the Century" and "Constantinople," is superb. As a result, the lack of other backing musicians is not missed. Finally, there's just enough banter between the musicians in between the songs to make this a highly enjoyable listen.
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Uncorked
Uncorked by Al Stewart
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