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Stewart, Al: Year Of The Cat 45 Anniversary Edition

A top five album in America, Year Of The Cat was the seventh studio album from Scottish born, but English raised singer songwriter Al Stewart. With a career that had spent a decade teetering on the brink of anonymity, it really was a massive breakthrough moment for the, to that point, folk man with an eye for a hook and a melody. Year… changed all that while still using it as the basis of what was to come. Adding a more commercial rock edge to the mix, the results were a collection of stories set to music that easily touched the hearts of many as love, loss and being able to live in the moment were all celebrated in a way that truly transported you right to the centre of the tales being told.

Crucially, the music was sharp as a tack, while also having a softness that drew you in and made you feel right at home from the very first encounter. Reinvigorated by Cherry Red for a 45th anniversary celebration, that the same spell can still be cast by this album really does leave no doubt as to the class on show. Remastered by Alan Parsons, no less, Year Of The Cat still positively jumps from the speakers in the most relaxed of styles. For me Parsons really has gotten to the centre of this album and laid it out for all to see in the most sympathetic setting. Stewart’s voice is warm and welcoming, but remote enough to keep his lyrical journeys as enigmatic shimmers that you wish you were part of. With the large cast who bring guitars, bass, keyboards, violin, triangle, sax and much else balanced excellently, the new life found by the hazy whispers of “One Stage Before”, sweeping grandeur of “Lord Grenville” and jaunty honesty of “If It Doesn’t Come Naturally, Leave It” is intriguing without compromising the mystique of old. Add in the unforgettable title track and this album really does remain something of a triumph for Al Stewart.

Included on the main disc is a 2020 mix of “Belsize Blues”, which offers a more bluesy swagger to the album itself, although whether the whole kit and caboodle benefits from Parsons’ 5.1 treatment on the DVD disc in this set, I can’t comment on, as it wasn’t included in the review downloads sent out…

What is part of the package though is the two disc live show taken from Seattle 1976, where a set sprinkled with Cat creations illustrates the live prowess that Stewart still possesses to this very day. Shining a light on his endearingly awkward in between song stage style, the confidence once the music itself begins is second to none, as a slightly rockier edge is revealed. Everything from “Apple Cider Re-constitution” and “On The Border” to “Sand In Your Shoe” and “If It Doesn’t Come Naturally, Leave It” leaving you simply desperate to start the experience all over again.

Whether Year Of The Cat is Al Stewart’s defining moment is open to debate and, as ever, down to personal preference. However, presented here in such style, there’s no denying that it remains a mighty fine album and one worthy of such an excellent birthday celebration.


DISC ONE YEAR OF THE CAT RE-MASTERED BY ALAN PARSONS
1. LORD GRENVILLE
2. ON THE BORDER
3. MIDAS SHADOW
4. SAND IN YOUR SHOES
5. IF IT DOESN’T COME NATURALLY, LEAVE IT
6. FLYING SORCERY
7. BROADWAY HOTEL
8. ONE STAGE BEFORE
9. YEAR OF THE CAT
BONUS TRACK
10. BELSIZE BLUES (RECORDED AT ABBEY ROAD STUDIOS IN SEPTEMBER 1975)


DISC TWO: LIVE AT THE PARAMOUNT THEATER, SEATTLE - OCTOBER 1976 - PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
1. APPLE CIDER RE-CONSTITUTION (LIVE 1976) (PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED)
2. THE DARK AND THE ROLLING SEA (LIVE 1976) (PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED)
3. ONE STAGE BEFORE (LIVE 1976) (PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED)
4. SOHO (NEEDLESS TO SAY) (LIVE 1976) (PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED)
5. NOT THE ONE (LIVE 1976) (PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED)
6. ON THE BORDER (LIVE 1976) (PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED)
7. BROADWAY HOTEL (LIVE 1976) (PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED)
8. ROADS TO MOSCOW (LIVE 1976) (PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED)


DISC THREE: LIVE AT THE PARAMOUNT THEATER, SEATTLE - OCTOBER 1976 - PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
1. NOSTRADAMUS (LIVE 1976) (PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED)
2. SIRENS OF TITAN (LIVE 1976) (PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED)
3. THE POST WORLD WAR TWO BLUES (LIVE 1976) (PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED)
4. YEAR OF THE CAT (LIVE 1976) (PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED)
5. SAND IN YOUR SHOES (LIVE 1976) (PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED)
6. CAROL (LIVE 1976) (PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED)
7. IF IT DOESN’T COME NATURALLY, LEAVE IT (LIVE 1976) (PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED)


DISC FOUR: YEAR OF THE CAT THE NEW 5.1 SURROUND SOUND MIX & ORIGINAL 96 KHZ / 24-BIT RE-MASTERED STEREO MIX BY ALAN PARSONS
1. LORD GRENVILLE (5.1 SURROUND SOUND MIX)
2. ON THE BORDER (5.1 SURROUND SOUND MIX)
3. MIDAS SHADOW (5.1 SURROUND SOUND MIX)
4. SAND IN YOUR SHOES (5.1 SURROUND SOUND MIX)
5. IF IT DOESN’T COME NATURALLY, LEAVE IT (5.1 SURROUND SOUND MIX)
6. FLYING SORCERY (5.1 SURROUND SOUND MIX)
7. BROADWAY HOTEL (5.1 SURROUND SOUND MIX)
8. ONE STAGE BEFORE (5.1 SURROUND SOUND MIX)
9. YEAR OF THE CAT (5.1 SURROUND SOUND MIX)

Added: March 13th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Year of the Cat @ Cherry Red
Hits: 653
Language: english

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