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Al Stewart Year of the Cat album cover

As a long-time fan of the title track Year of the Cat’ , my affection for the entire album was kindled in an unlikely place – a charity shop in the quaint university town of Cambridge, England. Amidst the crates, this gem of an album emerged, offering a journey far beyond its vinyl grooves.

On a morning from a Bogart movie..

Like the opening line of the title track, this is an album that transports you far away from the singer’s Scottish roots.. With lyrics like ‘On a morning from a Bogart movie, In a country where they turn back time,’ Stewart’s words paint vivid pictures, whisking listeners away from his Glasgow roots and the confines of Abbey Road Studios where it was recorded. The imagery is potent and evocative, like short stories set to music.

The fishing boats go out across the evening water, Smuggling guns and arms across the Spanish border,’ stirring up scenes of intrigue and distant lands.

On the Border – Al Stewart

A Warm Embrace with Each Listen

Al Stewart Close up from the Year of the Cat album cover

There’s a warmth to this album that grows with every listen. It retains a folky essence but presents it in a more accessible, commercial package. This approach reminds me of Gerry Rafferty’s “City to City,” particularly the iconic “Baker Street.” Both “Baker Street” and “Year of the Cat” share a length over six minutes, a penchant for popularising folk themes, and memorable sax solos. Yet, while Rafferty’s work is introspective and biographical, Stewart’s is outward-looking and almost whimsical.

The Alan Parson’s Touch

Produced by Alan Parsons, famed for his work on Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” the album’s production quality is impeccable. Parsons’ influence is a thread that weaves through the album, giving it a polished sheen that complements Stewart’s storytelling.

So much more than the title track and chart positions

History has been kind to both the album and the song giving it a longevity far beyond it’s chart positions. The album was to last only one week in the UK top 40 album chart, with the lead single faring a little better, scraping into the top 40 for three weeks. Almost 35 years later the ‘Year of the Cat’ is heading to one million Spotify streams.

While “Year of the Cat” is undoubtedly the star, the album is a constellation of standout tracks. “Lord Grenville,” “On the Border,” and “Sand in Your Shoes” each contribute to the album’s rich tapestry.

I feel that “The Year of the Cat” is more than its famous title track. It’s a musical odyssey that deserves to be explored in its entirety – a classic that continues to resonate and warm the soul with each listen.

Go and tell Lord Grenville that the tide is on the turn
It’s time to haul the anchor up and leave the land astern

Lord Granville – the opening track from Year of the Cat

Jay

I am Jay, the founder of Wine, Travel and Song. UK based, I set this blog up in 2016 to share my passion for food & drink, travel and music - Wine, Travel & Song. In these posts I share some of my passions in the hope that it may inspire you to go there, eat that or listen to this. In return I hope you will comment and share recommendations of where to go, what to eat and what to listen to!