Personnel: Al Stewart (vocals, acoustic guitar); Simon Nicol (acoustic guitar); Stuart Cowell (electric guitar, dobro); Tim Renwick (electric guitar); Isaac Guillory (guitar); Graham Smith (harmonica); Peter Wood (keyboards, accordion); Peter Wingfield (keyboards); George Ford, Peter Moss (bass); Barry DeSouza, Gerry Conway (drums); Tony Carr (percussion); Chas Mills, Brian Bennett, Neil Lancaster (background vocals).
Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London. Originally released on Janus (7012). Includes liner notes by Stephen K. Peeples.
Surely the title is a bit of an allusion to the Past, Present and Future of its predecessor, but Modern Times also brought Al Stewart into the present, establishing his classic sound of folky narratives and Lennonesque melodies, all wrapped up in a lush, layered production from Alan Parsons. Hearing this production makes it clear that this is what was missing from Past, since it gives epics like the title track a real sense of grandeur that makes their sentiments resonate strongly. But it's not just the improvement in production that makes Modern Times the beginning of Stewart's classic period -- his songwriting has leapt up and met his ambitions, as it retains the historical sweep of his earlier material but melds it to a melodic sensibility that's alternately comforting and haunting. This skill is apparent throughout Modern Times, and is married to a sound that is its equivalent, making this an exquisite pop-prog gem. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Q (7/93, p.114) - 3 Stars - Good - "...like all Stewart's work [the album] is pretty and civilized...`The Dark And The Rolling Sea' has epic scale, with the somehow cozy exoticism which is Stewart's trademark and a satisfyingly lilting, sea-shantyish tune..."
Dirty Linen (Apr/May 93, p.75) - "...Stewart brought together many of the best elements from the previous albums for 1975's MODERN TIMES...very good..."