Year of the Cat

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",[1] 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).[2]

Year of the Cat
Al Stewart-Year of the Cat (album cover).jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 1976 (UK), October 1976 (US)
RecordedJanuary 1976
StudioAbbey Road Studios, London; Davlen Sound Studios, North Hollywood, California
GenreRock, soft rock, progressive pop
Length38:55
LabelRCA, Parlophone (2014), Janus, Arista
ProducerAlan Parsons
Al Stewart chronology
Modern Times
(1975)
Year of the Cat
(1976)
Time Passages
(1978)

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.[3] 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.[4] When Stewart discovered that Hancock was not well known in the United States, he went back to his original title "Year of the Cat".[5]

Cover artEdit

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.

ReceptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
The All-Music Guide to Rock     [6]
AllMusic     [7]
Christgau's Record GuideB–[8]

In the United States, Year of the Cat was certified platinum in March 1977, indicating sales of more than one million copies.[9]

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.[6]

Alan Parsons' production and rich arrangements were widely praised. By 1987, Year of the Cat had become a popular record used for hi-fi demonstration.[6]

Chris Woodstra called Year of the Cat Al Stewart's masterpiece.[10] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic agreed, calling it the perfection of Stewart's sound and style.[11]

Track listingEdit

All tracks composed by Al Stewart, except where indicated.

1976 Original LP editionEdit

Side 1

  1. "Lord Grenville" – 5:00
  2. "On the Border" – 3:22
  3. "Midas Shadow" – 3:08
  4. "Sand in Your Shoes" – 3:02
  5. "If it Doesn't Come Naturally, Leave It" – 4:28

Side 2

  1. "Flying Sorcery" – 4:20
  2. "Broadway Hotel" – 3:55
  3. "One Stage Before" – 4:39
  4. "Year of the Cat" (Stewart, Peter Wood) – 6:40

2004 Remaster bonus tracksEdit

  1. "On the Border" [live] - 3:48
  2. "Belsize Blues" - 3:30
  3. "Story of the Songs" - 9:42

PersonnelEdit

Technical
  • Hipgnosis, Colin Elgie - cover design
  • Rob Brimson - back cover photography

ChartsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Bogdanov, Vladimir; Chris Woodstra; Stephen Thomas Erlewine (2001). All music guide: the definitive guide to popular music. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 391. ISBN 978-0-87930-627-4.
  2. ^ "Lord Grenville". Songfacts.com. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
  3. ^ "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.
  4. ^ Dave Thompson, 1000 Songs that Rock Your World, Krause Publications, Iola, WI (2011). ISBN 978-1-4402-1422-6 p. 142.
  5. ^ Davies, John (2009). Lyrics and limericks. Dartford: Pneuma Springs Pub. p. 35. ISBN 978-1-905809-59-2. OCLC 751047053.
  6. ^ a b c Year of the Cat (Al Stewart). SuperSeventies Rocksite. Accessed 3 October 2020.
  7. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Year of the Cat at AllMusic
  8. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: S". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 13, 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
  9. ^ Gold & Platinum: "Al Stewart". RIAA. Accessed 3 October 2020.
  10. ^ Woodstra, Chris; John Bush (2008). All Music Guide Required Listening: Classic Rock. Hal Leonard. p. 208. ISBN 978-0-87930-917-6.
  11. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas: Al Stewart: Year of the Cat. AllMusic. Accessed 3 October 2020.
  12. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 294. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  13. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 5166a". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  14. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Al Stewart – Year of the Cat" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  15. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Musicline.de. Phononet GmbH. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  16. ^ "Charts.nz – Al Stewart – Year of the Cat". Hung Medien. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  17. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  18. ^ "Al Stewart Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  19. ^ "The Top 100 Albums of '77". RPM. Vol. 28 no. 14. December 31, 1977. p. 15. ISSN 0315-5994. Retrieved November 9, 2021 – via Library and Archives Canada.
  20. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Album 1977". Dutch Charts. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  21. ^ "Top Selling Albums of 1977 — The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Recorded Music New Zealand. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  22. ^ "Billboard 200 Albums - Year-End". Billboard. Retrieved November 9, 2021.