Title - 'Old Forgotten Altars: The 1960s Demos'
Artist - John Stewart
For those not in the know, in a career spanning more than four decades, John Stewart swiftly progressed from his beginnings in a southern California garage band, through folk groups The Cumberland Three and The Kingston Trio, to a successful solo career.
He contributed well over 40 albums and more than 600 songs to our musical universe and thus his song catalog is not only staggering in volume, but it’s also loaded with classic compositions.
Most will know Stewart’s songwriting from 'Daydream Believer' by The Monkees (and Anne Murray) or his own Lindsey Buckingham-produced, 'Gold,' a #5 hit in 1979, but just as impressive are 'Runaway Train' from Rosanne Cash’s 1987 King’s Record Shop album, 'Sweet Dreams Will Come' on Nanci Griffith’s Little Love Affairs, or 'Mother Country' from Stewart’s own 1969 California Bloodlines album; which was used to usher the Apollo 11 spacecraft safely back to Earth after its historic journey.
Omnivore is has just released John Stewart's Old Forgotten Altars: The 1960s Demos this past May 8th, 2020 and it is an album that contains a lot of rare, and previously unreleased gems from the great songwriter.
It features four tunes found here that wound up on The Kingston Trio’s Children Of The Morning album released in 1966 with one of them, 'The Spinnin’ Of The World,' getting a second airing on 1979s hit album, Bombs Away Dream Babies; which yielded the aforementioned charting single, 'Gold, with two other songs, 'Midnight Wind' and 'Lost Her In The Sun' also making the Top 40.
Three duets with Buffy Ford Stewart foreshadow Signals Through The Glass album which the singing partners, and later husband and wife team, would release on Capitol Records in 1968.
This collection also features five tracks that would form nearly half of Stewart’s classic California Bloodlines album released in 1969. Of particular note, 'July, You’re A Woman' makes its first recorded appearance here alongside demos for 'Mother Country' and 'The Pirates Of Stone County Road.
1. 'Livin' That Way' (Demo)
2. 'When You're Been Away For A Long Time' (Demo)
3. 'Down The Highway You Go' (Demo)
4. 'Lock All The Windows' (Demo)
5. 'Rambler Get On Board' (Demo)
6. 'Shackles & Chains' (Demo)
7. 'One More Chapter Is Gone' (Demo)
8. 'Being Born Again' (Demo)
9. 'Long Life' (Demo)
10. 'Children Of The Morning' (Demo)
11. 'The Spinnin' Of The World' (Demo)
12. 'Draft Age Today' (Demo)
13. 'The Pirates of Stone County Road' (John Stewart with Buffy Ford Stewart) (Demo)
14. 'One Tiny Grain of Sand' (Demo)
15. 'July, You're A Woman' (Demo)
16. 'Big Sur' (John Stewart with Buffy Ford Stewart) (Demo)
17. 'Mother Country' (Demo)
18. 'She Believes In Me' (John Stewart with Buffy Ford Stewart) (Demo)
19. 'Hey Sarrey' [1959 Bonus Demo]
Opening with the upbeat 'Livin' That Way' and the passionate embrace of 'When You're Been Away For A Long Time,' next up is the pure country of 'Down The Highway You Go' ("I know I shouldn't cry, but I've got freedom in my eyes"), and then the earnest duo of 'Lock All The Windows' and 'Rambler Get On Board.'
The gentle warbling vocals of Stewart come to the fore on the uptempo 'Shackles & Chains,' and that's followed by the storytelling of 'One More Chapter Is Gone,' the sing-along, tambourine-backed 'Being Born Again,' and then the gentle pop sounds of 'Long Life' and the lushly ornate 'Children Of The Morning.'
More vocal reverberations are showcased on 'The Spinnin' Of The World' which is backed by the reminiscing of 'Draft Age Today,' the gently melodic 'The Pirates of Stone County Road' (fetauring Buffy Ford Stewart), and then both the low key 'One Tiny Grain Of Sand' and the Simon & Garfunkel-esque 'July, You're A Woman.'
The beautiful 'Big Sur' (featuring Buffy Ford Stewart) is a pure, unadulterated joy to behold, and that's followed by 'Mother Country,' with 'She Believes In Me' (again featuring Buffy Ford Stewart), and the banjo-driven bonus track 'Hey Sarrey' bringing the collection to a close.
In 2001, Stewart was honored by the World Folk Music Association with a Lifetime Achievement Award and continued to perform live until nearly 2008.
Thus, here on Old Forgotten Altars: The 1960s Demos, Omnivore honors his life’s work and legacy with this peek behind the curtain into his songwriting process while he was making his way from The Kingston Trio to his solo career.
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