Al Stewart - Year Of The Cat - On Year Of The Cat Album (1976)

Al Stewart - Year Of The Cat - On Year Of The Cat Album (1976)
Al Stewart '70s #1 Hits on WLCY Radio

"Year of the Cat" is a single by singer-songwriter Al Stewart, released in July 1976. The song is the title track of his 1976 album Year of the Cat, and was recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London in January 1976 by engineer Alan Parsons. The song reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1977. Although Stewart's highest charting single on that chart was 1978's "Time Passages", "Year of the Cat" has remained Stewart's signature recording, receiving regular airplay on both classic rock and folk rock stations.

The track is noted for its lengthy instrumental sections— over four minutes of the 6:40 album version is instrumental, including a long, melodic series of solos that encompasses cello, violin, piano, acoustic guitar, distorted electric guitar, synthesizer and saxophone. The transition from acoustic guitar to electric to saxophone was initiated by Tim Renwick. The acoustic lead is played by Peter White with Tim Renwick then taking the electric lead. Parsons had Phil Kenzie add the saxophone part of the song — and by doing so transformed the original folk concept into the jazz-influenced ballad that put Al Stewart onto the charts.

Shorter versions of the track can be found on some European 7" single formats. Though both of the discs carry the same label and catalogue number (RCA PB 5007), the French single features the A-side track clocking in at 4:30, while the Italian one features an even shorter mix of just 3:30 so that the lengthy instrumental intro is completely missing.

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  1. Features of This Track

    folk influences
    great lyrics
    acoustic rhythm piano
    chromatic harmonic structure
    intricate melodic phrasing
    use of a string ensemble
    a clear focus on recording studio production
    minor key tonality
    melodic songwriting
    thru composed melodic style
    an acoustic guitar solo
    prominent bass riffs
    a breathy male lead vocalist
    a prominent saxophone part
    acoustic rhythm guitars
    subtle use of fender rhodes
    emphasis on instrumental arranging