Year of the Cat is the seventh studio album by Al Stewart, released in 1976. It was produced and engineered by Alan Parsons. Its sales helped by the hit single "Year of the Cat", co-written by Peter Wood and described by AllMusic as "one of those 'mysterious woman' songs", the album was a top five hit in the United States. The other single from the album was "On the Border". Stewart wrote "Lord Grenville" about the Elizabethan sailor and explorer Sir Richard Grenville (1542–1591).
|Year of the Cat|
|Studio album by|
|Released||July 1976 (UK), October 1976 (US)|
|Studio||Abbey Road Studios, London; Davlen Sound Studios, North Hollywood, California|
|Genre||Rock, soft rock, progressive pop|
|Label||RCA, Parlophone (2014), Janus, Arista|
|Al Stewart chronology|
Stewart had all of the music and orchestration written and completely recorded before he even had a title for any of the songs. In a Canadian radio interview he stated that he has done this for six of his albums, and he often writes four different sets of lyrics for each song. The title track derives from a song Stewart wrote in 1966 called "Foot of the Stage" with prescient lyrics about Tony Hancock, one of Britain's favourite comedians who died by suicide two years later. When Stewart discovered that Hancock was not well known in the United States, he went back to his original title "Year of the Cat".
The cover design, by Hipgnosis and illustrator Colin Elgie, depicts a woman who has an apparent obsession with cats. She can be seen in the mirror dressing up as a cat for a costume party, and all of the items on her dresser have feline motifs. Stewart used the same concept for the cover of his 2004 Greatest Hits album, but with most of the cat items replaced with references to his other singles.
|The All-Music Guide to Rock|||
|Christgau's Record Guide||B–|
In the United States, Year of the Cat was certified platinum in March 1977, indicating sales of more than one million copies.
Contemporary reviews were mixed but generally positive. Billboard praised the album featuring "Stewart's cool vocals and exceptionally well-arranged songs that are progressive without being pretentious", whereas Robert Christgau thought Stewart's move from historical themes to the tone of "spy-novels" was an improvement. Peter Reilly, writing for Stereo Review, found Stewart's "hissing sibilant 's's" unintentionally hilarious, especially when combined with the "gloweringly melodramatic" "On the Border". Reilly nonetheless praised the songwriting, "warm, easy atmosphere", and Stewart's guitar skills.
All tracks composed by Al Stewart, except where indicated.
1976 Original LP editionEdit
- "Lord Grenville" – 5:00
- "On the Border" – 3:22
- "Midas Shadow" – 3:08
- "Sand in Your Shoes" – 3:02
- "If it Doesn't Come Naturally, Leave It" – 4:28
- "Flying Sorcery" – 4:20
- "Broadway Hotel" – 3:55
- "One Stage Before" – 4:39
- "Year of the Cat" (Stewart, Peter Wood) – 6:40
2004 Remaster bonus tracksEdit
- "On the Border" [live] - 3:48
- "Belsize Blues" - 3:30
- "Story of the Songs" - 9:42
- Al Stewart - vocals, guitar, keyboards
- Peter White - guitar
- Tim Renwick - guitar
- Peter Wood - keyboards
- Don Lobster - keyboards
- George Ford - bass
- Stuart Elliott - drums, percussion
- Andrew Powell - string arrangements
- Bobby Bruce - violin
- Marion Driscoll - triangle
- Phil Kenzie - alto saxophone
- David Pack - backing vocals
- John Perry - backing vocals
- Tony Rivers - backing vocals
- Stuart Calver - backing vocals
- Graham Smith - harmonica
- Hipgnosis, Colin Elgie - cover design
- Rob Brimson - back cover photography
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- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2011-08-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) CIUT’s Barry Livingston’s interview with legendary UK singer/songwriter Al Stewart, Thursday June 16th, 2011 at 7 a.m.
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