Al Stewart

Year of the Cat 45th Anniversary

You couldn’t have planned a ’70s smash any better. For superior sonics, Stewart collaborated with producer Alan Parsons, famed for his work with the Beatles and Pink Floyd. The music also tapped into the moody, sophisticated soft-rock popularized by Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan and, yes, even the Alan Parsons Project. These factors helped turn Stewart’s Year of the Cat into a platinum phenomenon. This four-disc set includes the remastered album, a Seattle concert from ’76, and separate HD 5.1 mix.

In the liner notes, you’ll learn that Stewart’s “Year of the Cat” was based on his pianist’s daily warm-up, while guitarists Peter White and Tim Renwick offered unforgettable acoustic and electric solos, respectively. The recording of George Ford’s bass lines deserves special commendation, heard in “On the Border” – all bass should sound this fat, warm, and punchy.

The concert audio is good (not great), with expert Strat solos from Mark Goldenberg. A live highlight is one of Al’s finest compositions, “Roads to Moscow,” in all its tragic beauty. While this reissue isn’t essential, it’s hard to argue with rock this sonically spectacular. Forty-five years later, it’s an undisputed FM classic.

This article originally appeared in VG’s June 2021 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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