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Showing 1-10 of 89 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 155 reviews
on February 21, 2017
Alan Parsons engineered and produced this masterpiece and Al Stewart released the album on 1976. When you hear the name Alan Parsons, it clicks legendary albums by Pink Floyd, Beatles and Alan Parsons Project. Right then and there you will recognize that Alan Parsons only produces the best of the best. He must have known that this album would hit gold!

Al Stewart wrote all the music and orchestrations but he had help with the lyrics. This album is Al Stewart’s best studio album. The album is loaded with hit songs. This is the 2001 remastered release of the original album plus some new tracks added.

Al Stewart’s style is Folk Rock and Soft Rock. His music is pretty spaced out, and has a dreamy, relaxing tune to it. It sweeps you away to a relaxing beach in tropics!

When this album came out on 1976, I would constantly play the cassette in my father’s 1965 classic red T Bird Convertible while driving it without permission right next to the water front Caspian Sea Shores with my cousins and friends during the summer vacation in Imperial Iran!

We had a great summer of cruising at the shores, biking at the boulevard, dancing in the night clubs and raising hell with girls in our early teen years! This album has so many memories. The best way to listen to this album is to play it while riding a bike (preferably Harley), a convertible or an auto with moon roof open, blasting it in the wind of the highway. This album takes you away to another time and place.

I owned this album in cassette (in Iran), in LP (in Philly) and now in CD (in San Diego). What an album indeed!

This album is one of the greatest works of contemporary Rock music. Loaded with beautiful hit songs and great arrangements, it is one of the all time favorites in Folk Rock and Soft Rock. If you never heard it, then you best buy it and collect it but if you have heard it before, then that shows your age and you know what a jewel this album is! It is a must to own collectible. Al Stewart’s voice is once in a million and his music is simply marvelous.
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on June 17, 2016
I finally broke down and bought the CD for this album after having the LP since around 1978 or so. Originally I bought it (like most people I suppose) for the title track and On the Border, which are the standouts (and hits). Like most albums that Alan Parsons had a hand in, this album is almost worth listening to just for the production. All of the instruments are in their proper place, clear and not all muddled together, and perfectly balanced. Nothing is overpowering. Really, yet another brilliant piece of recording work from Parsons.

Like all great albums, the songs are all different, and good, yet they also hang together to make a whole. It's not overly orchestrated and is a pleasing blend of acoustic and electric. The lyrics can be a bit opaque to those not steeped in the British culture (which I am not), but not too opaque to reduce the enjoyment of listening to Stewart's very "English' and silky smooth voice. If one is used to typical prog rock (as I am) you're going to be okay with it. There's not a bad track on it, but Lord Grenville, along with the previous two mentioned are probably the strongest.

I think the music holds up well for modern times. True, the orchestration can, at times, scream "1970s!!!" at you, but overall it gives anyone who was alive then a good nostalgic kick, but younger folks can still appreciate it without it seeming old or dated. I enjoyed the live versions of On the Border and Belsize Blues (although I'd never heard the latter before, and I don't know why it's included) both of which are excellent recordings; you can crank them up without fear.

The 'Story of the Songs' track is interesting, but do yourself a favor: make a copy of the CD so you can play it without that track.

It's definitely worth it to get the CD, especially since it's obviously been expertly remastered to retain the 'sound' of the LP but getting rid of the inevitable distortion that you get with an LP (on the 'inner' tracks of the LP, Year of the Cat and If it Doesn't Come Naturally, Leave It. They remain clear to the very end).
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on February 17, 2014
English folk rocker Al Stewart released his seventh studio album entitled Year Of the Cat in September of 1976.
By 1975, Al Stewart had recorded six albums with the previous two, 1973's Past Present and Future and the 1975 Top 30 charting Modern Times being his first two US releases and both albums were superb and also his first two to feature artwork by the legendary Hipgnosis company. After Modern Times saw Al collaborate with wunderkind British producer/engineer Alan Parsons (whom had made a name for himself being a tape operator when The Beatles recorded The White Album and an engineer when they made Abbey Road and Let it Be and also engineered Pink Floyd's albums Atom Heart Mother (as an assistant engineer) and Dark Side of the Moon. In addition, produced records for The Hollies and Pilot among other and was about to record his Project's debut Tales and Mysteries From Edgar Allen Poe), the two reunite once again for Year Of the Cat which (like its predecessor) was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London. The musicians that Al had backing him on this album were Sutherland Brothers and Quiver guitarist Tim Renwick (who would later play in a post-Roger Waters Pink Floyd as second guitarist), keyboard player Peter Wood (who would also work with Pink Floyd for their 1980-81 Wall concerts), bass player George Ford and orchestrator Andrew Powell also returned. The album also introduced to fans of Al's then new keyboard player/guitarist/collaborator Peter White (who would work with Al for years to come), drummer Stuart Elliott (who would play on this and its followup Time Passages) and sax player Phil Kenzie (who would still play on Al's recordings Time Passages, Russians and Americans and Turn of the Century). With a lineup like that plus another great Hipgnosis cover (done by Hipgnosis member Colin Elgie), this album spelled classic, as I found out in spring 2007 when I played the vinyl on a whim.
We start with the album's opening song called "Lord Grenville" which is a song about Lord Richard Grenville who was a seaman and member of English Parliament who also would lead a fleet of ships against the Spanish Armada. Great song and given life by Renwick's guitar fills and the orchestrations. Next is the album's second single "On the Border". This track is one great number which sees Peter White go to town on classical guitar and talked about the Basque separatists movement in Spain and the crisis in the former republic of Rhodesia. Next is "Midas Shadow" which talks about a hotel maid who dreams of a better life after cleaning a suite trashed by a rock group. Next is the Dylan-esque sounding "Sand In Your Shoes". This folk rocker is a great song highlighted by Renwick's guitar solo which sounded like Roger McGuinn of The Byrds' work. "If It Doesn't Come Naturally Leave It" ends the first half on a great note. the track is an uptempo rocker which sounds like something from a Springsteen record and again Renwick plays some tasty lead solos.
"Flying Sorcery" begins the album's second half and is another great piece. Next is "Broadway Hotel" which is a nice song which talks about a woman staying at a hotel and begins an affair with a worker who brings her room service meals and musically is haunting. Next is one of my favorites on the album "One Stage Before" which talks about reincarnation and is musically a masterpiece and (once again) Renwick's lead guitars dominate. The album ends with the title song which was Al's first US Top 10 single. This song is about a love affair set in Casablanca in the year 1975 (which was according to an astrology book of Al's girlfriend at the time The Year Of the Cat). Musically, Peter Wood wrote the music while touring with Al as the opening act for Linda Ronstadt's 1975 tour and Al had difficulty with writing lyrics and at one stage dropped Year of the Cat for "Foot Of the Stage" but everyone hated the lyrics so Al decided on the Casablanca love affair circa 1975 and the rest was history. The epic is highlighted by Peter White's acoustic guitar solo, Tim Renwick's electric guitar solo and Phil Kenzie's sax solos (which were recorded in two takes and the first time he ever used an alto sax (he was a tenor player prior to recording Year of the Cat) at Parsons' insistence) plus the orchestrations make the song cry out EPIC!
Year Of the Cat peaked at #5 on the Billboard album charts and sold over a million copies Stateside therefore going Platinum in the process in early 1977.
The album was re-released in the UK in 2001 with the original album art and digitally remastered sound and THREE BONUS TRACKS. The first is a live version of "On the Border" recorded in 1978 for a radio broadcast. Then it's "Belsize Blues" which is a song that was recorded for the album but left off due to time constraints and is a great bluesy song. We end with "Story Of the Song" which is a short interview about the making of the album and stories behind each track.
Then another remaster was released for the US and Canadian market on Rhino in 2004 (again under Al's supervision) and the sound quality is just as good as the British remaster but unfortunately the Rhino reissue is OUT OF PRINT. Then was re-released again in 2013 along with its predecessor Modern Times as a 2 albums on 1 CD set.
Year of the Cat is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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on May 14, 2012
This has to be one of the best rock albums of all time. It's tone is sweet, rich, full and confident. The engineers and producer did a tremendous job of mastering such a smooth and balanced blend of vocals, instruments and percussion. The title song Year of the Cat is particularly intriguing because the guitar solo goes from acoustic subdued to exploding into a musical crescendo of electrical orgasm but in such a tasteful way. It has been of interest to me how the guitarist got such a sweet, searing, penetrating and rocking compressed metal electric tone. I suspected it was from a Les Paul Deluxe with a mini-humbucker in the bridge position but someone I talked to said he saw a video and the guitarist was using a straight Stratocaster. Creamy, soaring, lyrical, textured, tasteful.
The album is a concept album and it holds together as a whole, as well as, each song being strong in itself. The album songs all sound good, the messages are even more compelling these years later. Sheer art in music, Mr. Stewart,Thank you!
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VINE VOICEon December 24, 2013
I have a lot of Al Stewart albums, including most of his more recent ones--but the Year of the Cat has always been my favorite. This is a great remastering of original classic with bonus tracks thrown in. I was going to digitize my old vinyl version of it, but then I saw this and grabbed it instead. Well worth the money for a fan.
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on March 27, 2003
I first heard Al Stewart when I was about 10 years old (as of this review, I am 24). My father owned a ragged cassette tape of songs copied from the Year of the Cat vinyl LP, which we played in the car and at home quite extensively. Even at such a tender age, I could feel the genuine emotions conveyed through his songs: the sympathetic lamentations of "Lord Grenville," the cinematic seclusion of "Broadway Hotel," and the haunting remembrance of the title song. As I grew older into my teens, I went through a phase of musical exploration one might expect of someone at that stage of adolescence, seeking much more aggressive and noise-oriented forms of musical expression to placate the confusion of discomforts stirring within me, and thus I ignored the auditory pleasantries of childhood. But when I entered college and came to know myself more maturely, I started feeling a yearning for certain nostalgic facets of my past, and this album was one of them. How wonderful it was to find the CD here on!

Even as I listen to it now, I still find previously unnoticed nuances. Aside from the brilliant music contained on this album, I have also come to recognize how incredible the production was for its time (1976), as well as the usage of rather advanced synthesizers for subtle melodic support. The music itself is compelling in its atmosphere and timelessness, compared to what was then more popular. The guitar solos still ring true with clarity (not to mention the stylistic drum work and bass lines), never meandering away from their purpose, and Al's to-the-point style of singing is comforting like an honest friend.

There are so many exceptional songs on this album, spanning a wide range of places, moods, and even time periods. As a child, "Lord Grenville" was always my favorite, but now that I am a singer myself, I have grown partial to "One Stage Before." Its candid lyrics and dream-like vocal effects speak clearly to a musician's heart. He is truly a modern troubador, exploring love and sadness in equal measure.

Year of the Cat is a classic on so many levels, and while my college peers are content to surrender themselves to more contemporary sounds (as am I when the mood strikes me), it is unfortunate that many of my generation will miss out on this treasure of songs simply because of its "antiquity."
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on April 4, 2009
Although Al Stewart issued many fine albums both before and after Year of the Cat and indeed is still recording good music today, most will recognize this record as the apex of his commercial success. So large does it loom in the musical history of my generation that many casual music fans would mistakenly name this as his first album.
This is my fourth copy of this album. I have the LP, went through two cassettes, and now I bought it on CD because it is both inexpensive and more importantly, remastered. Year of the Cat just never sounds stale, it has something for everyone. Whether you prefer Stewart's historical and mystical allusions, enjoy a little romance and mystery, or maybe simply enjoy the whimsy that's inherent throughout, they are all here. This album never fails to please!
I like every song, but my favorites are: the imaginative If It Doesn't Come Naturally, Leave It; the elusive and allegorical Flying Sorcery; the enigmatic romance of Broadway Hotel; the mystical One Stage Before; and of course the breezy and whimsical title cut.
The remastered CD is accompanied by an attractive insert containing all pertinent album info including the lyrics, commentary, and a couple of pictures. Year of the Cat is one of those proverbial "desert island discs" that will still sound great a hundred years hence. If you don't have this remaster, get it soon. You'll be delighted all over again.
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on April 28, 2014
This album brings back a lot memories from the late 70's. My college roommate picked up the album as soon as it was released. Between the radio and my roommate this album was in tha back around of some of the best times of my life. Learning more about the album from the involement of Alan Parsons and one of my favorite drummers, from Cockney Rebel, Stuart Elliot just made it that much better. Plus being recorded in Abbey Road Studios did hurt either. The album is qulaity beginning to end. The recording quality, the arrangements, and the way the songs were performed for the recording - just perfect!
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on March 16, 2017
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on December 31, 2016
I grew up listening to Al Stewart in the 1970s. Of course starting with his first major hit in the US, Year of the Cat . His follow up hit was minor ( On The Border).But every song on this album is worth listening to. Stewart had a way with lyrics as the master storyteller of that decade
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