Alastair Ian “Al” Stewart (born 5 September 1945) is a Glasgow-born English singer-songwriter and folk-rock musician who rose to prominence as part of the British folk revival in the 1960s and 1970s. He developed a unique style of combining folk-rock songs with delicately woven tales of characters and events from history.
Artist: Al Stewart
Title: Year Of The Cat
Label: RCA Records
Catalog# RS 1082
Year of the Cat is the seventh studio album by Al Stewart, released in 1976 and was produced and engineered by Alan Parsons; it is considered his masterpiece, its sales helped by the hit single “Year of the Cat“, “one of those ‘mysterious woman’ songs,” co-written by Peter Wood. 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).
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 tragically committed 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”.
While Stewart is known for his guitar virtuosity, the song is recognized for producing amazing interplay of multiple guitars, piano, saxophone, violin and drums.
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.
1. Lord Grenville (5:02)
2. On the Border (3:23)
3. Midas Shadow (3:16)
4. Sand in Your Shoes (3:04)
5. If it Doesn’t Come Naturally, Leave It (4:30)
1. Flying Sorcery (4:22)
2. Broadway Hotel (3:58)
3. One Stage Before (4:41)
4. Year of the Cat (6:37)
Alastair Ian “Al” Stewart (born 5 September 1945) is a Glasgow-born singer-songwriter and folk-rock musician who rose to prominence as part of the British folk revival in the 1960s and 1970s. He developed a unique style of combining folk-rock songs with delicately woven tales of characters and events from history.
Artist: Al Stewart
Title: Time Passages
Label: RCA Records
Time Passages is the eighth studio album by Al Stewart, released in September of 1978. It is the follow-up to his 1976 album Year of the Cat. The album, like 1975’s Modern Times and 1976’s Year of the Cat, was once again produced by Alan Parsons.
Year of the Cat brought Al Stewart a genuine worldwide smash with its title track, and for its successor, he did make a few concessions. These, however, were slight — just a slight increase of soft rock productions, an enhancement of the lushness that marked not only Year of the Cat but also Modern Times. These happened to be welcome adjustments to Stewart’s sound, since they increased the dreamy continental elegance at the core of his work. And that’s why Time Passages is the equal of Year of the Cat — it may be more streamlined, but the adjustments to his sound and the concessions to the mainstream just increase the soft grace of his eloquent historical pop epics. It’s possible to view this as too precious, because it is pitched at an audience who believes the common-day concerns of pop are piffle, but this is exceptionally well-crafted, from Stewart’s songs, where even three-minute songs seem like epics, to Alan Parsons’ cinematic arrangements and productions. This added concentration on the texture of the recording, ensuring that it was clean, spacious, and gentle, with a welcoming surface. Of course, this means that Time Passages can work very well as background music, but it also reveals much upon concentrated listening — enough to make it stand proudly next to Modern Times and Year of the Cat as one of Al Stewart’s very best albums.
1. Time Passages (6:41)
2. Valentina Way (4:04)
3. Life in Dark Water (5:49)
4. A Man for All Seasons (5:50)
1. Almost Lucy (3:43)
2. The Palace of Versailles (5:20)
3. Timeless Skies (3:34)
4. Song on the Radio (6:22)
5. End of the Day (3:11)