Al Stewart is one of the most talented songwriters of the last half-century. Neil has been a huge Al fan since the early 1970s and has been thrilled to share the stage with him many times. Most of his songs include multiple guitar parts with interesting solos and instrumental sections, which are covered in these very detailed lessons.
This set includes Year Of The Cat, On The Border, Broadway Hotel, Time Passages, End Of The Day, Almost Lucy and Clifton In The Rain (from Al's early days).
Lesson 1: Year Of The Cat
We have had the rhythm guitar parts to *Year Of The Cat*available for some time but we now have added new videos going over the lead sections to this great song by Al Stewart. This is an example of a song where there are instrumental progressions used that are different from those used in the vocal sections. These instrumental sections include leads that are more composed than improvised, and are the type that can be beneficial to learn, rather than one that is improvised and played differently every time. We have also included a bonus segment that is audio from a concert Neil did with Al in 2005, and played the lead parts addressed in this lesson.
Lesson 2: On The Border - Al Stewart - Guitar Lesson
In the early 1970's Al Stewart’s songwriting path started taking on a historical tone. His third album of the period (seventh overall) included On The Border, along with his mega-hit Year Of The Cat. On The Border featured a story about the Basque culture in Northern Spain along with some snazzy Spanish Guitar playing courtesy of Peter White. This lesson, which includes a collaborative Play Through from Neil and Vanessa, covers all the guitar parts, with particular attention given to Peter’s leads and fills.
Lesson 3: Broadway Hotel - Al Stewart - Guitar Lesson
Another great melody and chord progression from Al Stewart’s 1976 album Year Of The Cat, Broadway Hotel uses unusual chord sequences and dissonant melody notes that never quite resolve where you might expect them to. The lesson includes some thoughts on incorporating the melody into a chord solo as well as a bit on lead soloing over a two-chord progression.
Lesson 4: Time Passages - Al Stewart - Guitar Lesson
Al Stewart’s 1978 album, Time Passages, his follow up to Year Of The Cat, continued in a similar vein with a couple radio friendly hits. The song is a good example of Al composing instrumental sections that vary from the progressions used in vocal sections, a rare thing among songwriters.
This lesson includes the basic way Al plays it with an accompanist like Dave Nachmanoff, as well as Dave’s parts as a second guitar player, really Al’s band.
Parts 5-8 of Time Passages go over second guitar parts, based mostly on what our friend Dave Nachmanoff plays when he accompanies Al Stewart live. They also include the guitar solo, written by Peter White, and Neil's version of the intro which tried to incorporate the keyboard and bass parts as done in the original.
Lesson 5: End Of The Day by Al Stewart - Guitar Lesson
End Of The Day started off as an instrumental piece written by Peter White, long time collaborator of Al Stewart’s, and was the closing track on the 1978 album Time Passages. The intro is a beautiful guitar piece that includes two sections with a lead guitar part over the progression. Al wrote lyrics and that vocal is the second half of the song.
The fingerstyle opening is quite challenging as it has a lot of embellishments, hammer-ons and pull-offs mostly, that need to be played effortlessly and smoothly. The lead played over the progression also needs to be very lyrical and does not need to be played precisely as written, the tab is only a guide.
There is also a basic strumming version with this lesson, which is much like what Al plays when he is performing this with someone like Dave Nachmanoff.
Lesson 6: Almost Lucy - Al Stewart - Guitar Lesson
As many of you know, Al Stewart is one of my favorite songwriter/guitarists. Almost Lucy happens to be one of my favorite songs of his, released in 1978 on his Time Passages album, and I have been fortunate enough to perform this tune with Al on multiple occasions. The slightly skewed chord progression, cryptic story line, great rhythmic feel, along with nice lead fills originally played by Tim Renwick, combine to make a valuable lesson from many angles. This lesson focuses on the progression and details about creating a second guitar part using 4-string triads up the neck, derived from the E, A, and D families of chord shapes.
Lesson 7: Clifton In The Rain
Clifton In The Rain is an early Al Stewart song, from his first album Bedsitter Images, released in 1967. It is a great example of using normal chords in unusual phrases and sequences, and combining a beautiful melody with colorful lyrics. It really shows where Al was as a young songwriter before hitting it big a decade later. This lesson goes into taking the picking patterns into your own world and creating a different accompaniment every time you play a song.