Sparks of Ancient Light

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Sparks of Ancient Light
Studio album by Al Stewart
Released 15 September 2008
Genre Folk
Label Appleseed (US), EMI (UK)
Producer Laurence Juber
Al Stewart chronology
A Beach Full of Shells
Sparks of Ancient Light
Uncorked (2009)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[1]

Sparks of Ancient Light is the sixteenth studio album by Al Stewart, released on 15 September 2008.[2] Like many of Stewart's works, the album's songs deal with historical figures, including British Prime Minister Lord Salisbury, deposed Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and 34th U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. According to Stewart, the songs all deal with the themes of "certainty and uncertainty."[3] A music video for "Elvis at the Wheel," shot in Arizona, was released in December 2013.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Allmusic reviewer Richie Unterberger praised the production on the album. He wrote: "Stewart's principal strengths – pleasant haunting melodies, mellifluous vocals, accomplished folk guitar work, and literate, historical-minded lyrics – stand at the forefront, undiminished by extraneous arrangements."[5]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Lord Salisbury" - 3:26
  2. "(A Child's View Of) The Eisenhower Years" - 3:11
  3. "The Ear of the Night" - 3:06
  4. "Hanno the Navigator" - 4:17
  5. "Shah of Shahs" - 5:03
  6. "Angry Bird" - 2:42
  7. "The Loneliest Place on the Map" - 3:31
  8. "Sleepwalking" - 4:31
  9. "Football Hero" - 5:38
  10. "Elvis at the Wheel" - 3:10
  11. "Silver Kettle" - 3:56
  12. "Like William McKinley" - 4:15[2]



  • Laurence Juber: Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric)
  • Jim Cox: Organ, Piano
  • John "Hot Fat Reynolds" Ferraro: Percussion, Drums
  • Eric Gorfain: Violin
  • Daphne Chen: Violin
  • Leah Katz: Viola
  • Richard Dodd: Cello
  • Rick Baptist: Trumpet


  • Laurence Juber: Arranger, Producer, Engineer
  • Greg Townley: Engineer, Mixing
  • Joe Gastwirt: Mastering
  • Buzz Person: Photography
  • Aaron Walk: Assistant
  • Steve Chapman: Management[6]

Allusions and historical references[edit]

  • Lord Salisbury is a reference to Robert Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1895 to 1902. According to Stewart, Cecil led the last "truly patrician government in England and ... believed that England was destined to rule the world."[3]
  • Hanno the Navigator is a reference to Hanno the Navigator, a 5th-century BCE Carthaginian explorer best known for his naval exploration of the African coast.[2]
  • Elvis at the Wheel refers to an incident where Elvis Presley, looking at a cloud formation, perceived a face of Joseph Stalin changing into that of Jesus Christ, inspiring him to undergo a religious transformation.[2]
  • Shah Of Shahs is a reference to the last days of the Pahlavi kingdom era before the Islamic revolution, and Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's 1979 escape from Iran.


  1. ^ Allmusic review
  2. ^ a b c d "Sparks of Ancient Light", (release date, track listing, and commentary)
  3. ^ a b 'Like going home', Courier Post Online, August 8, 2008
  4. ^ Video on YouTube
  5. ^ "Sparks of Ancient Light - Review by Richie Unterberger". Allmusic. Retrieved February 5, 2014. 
  6. ^, Sparks of Ancient Light, Credits

External links[edit]