Personnel: Al Stewart (vocals, guitar); Peter White (guitar, accordion, piano, organ); Tim Renwick, Mark Goldenberg (guitar); Phil Kenzie (alto saxophone); Peter Wood, Peter Robinson (piano, organ); Pete Solley (synthezizer); Rubin Lamble (bass); Stuart Elliot (drums); Lindsey Elliot (congas); Arthur Tripp (percussion); Krysia Kristianne, David Pack, Joe Puerta, James Robert West, Brian Huddy, Jeff Borgeson (background vocals).
Recorded at Davlen Studios, Los Angeles, California in 1978. Includes liner notes by Thane Tierney.
Year of the Cat brought Al Stewart a genuine worldwide smash with its title track, and for its successor, he did make a few concessions. These, however, were slight -- just a slight increase of soft rock productions, an enhancement of the lushness that marked not only Year of the Cat but also Modern Times. These happened to be welcome adjustments to Stewart's sound, since they increased the dreamy continental elegance at the core of his work. And that's why Time Passages is the equal of Year of the Cat -- it may be more streamlined, but the adjustments to his sound and the concessions to the mainstream just increase the soft grace of his eloquent historical pop epics. It's possible to view this as too precious, because it is pitched at an audience who believes the common-day concerns of pop are piffle, but this is exceptionally well-crafted, from Stewart's songs, where even three-minute songs seem like epics, to Alan Parsons' cinematic arrangements and productions. This added concentration on the texture of the recording, ensuring that it was clean, spacious, and gentle, with a welcoming surface. Of course, this means that Time Passages can work very well as background music, but it also reveals much upon concentrated listening -- enough to make it stand proudly next to Modern Times and Year of the Cat as one of Al Stewart's very best albums. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine