In a year in which disco and punk were battling it out, Al Stewart’s Year of the Cat was an outlier in a world dominated by The Sex Pistols, Ramones, Blondie, Chic. Donna Summer, and The Bee Gees. In 1976, Al Stewart released an album entitled Year Of The Cat that would spawn the biggest hit of his career. The single under the same name as the album would become a top 10 hit for Al Stewart. Al Stewart’s “Year of the Cat,” single would reach the number eight position on the United States Billboard singles charts in 1977. The song “Year of the Cat,” would climb into the top 10 music charts all around the world.
Al Stewart’s “Year of the Cat,” first caught the attention of millions because of its brilliant piano intro. The three chord opening used a sweeping riff engulfed by sevenths and sixths that made for a jazz infused progression that fell into the song’s first verse in astonishing fashion. The intro sounded like nothing ever written before. The power of Al Stewart’s'” Year Of The Cat,” was found in the song’s originality. Writing creative songs both from a lyrical and musical perspective is what separated Al Stewart from so many other artists that just copied formula. There was no formula to the song “Year of the Cat.” It was an epic composition that took on a life of its own. The song’s solo sections did not just feature one solo instrument. It was a parade of soloist all taking turns until the returning verse.
The song “Year of the Cat,” along with the album was produced by Alan Parsons. The legendary producer was own for producing some of the most successful albums in classic rock history. Alan Parsons worked as an engineer on albums such as The Beatles Abbey Road and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon. In 1976, Alan Parson’s was also responsible for producing John Miles’ outstanding Rebel album. The Year of the Cat album cover displayed an interesting montage of items that was open for interpretation.
Many people mistakenly believed that the Year Of The Cat was a reference to the Chinese Zodiac. However, The Year of The Cat is rather a reverence to the Vietnamese zodiac.
The running time of the album version of Year of the Cat clocked in at 6:40. The single release was edited down to 4: 38. Most of the music edited form the album version to the single version were the long solo section parts. That was a shame because the solo section is one of the most interesting and exciting part of the songs production. Nonetheless, edited or non edited, Al Stewart’s Year of the Cat was one of the most interesting songs released in the 1970’s. It was a song that defined the concept of originality yet was still friendly and familiar enough to be accepted on a mass cultural level. That is what made the song’s success so extraordinary.
Use of Al Stewart’s album cover art is protected under the United States Office of Copyright Fair Use Doctrine Section 107 of the Copyright Act that protects the authors right to show the art that is being critiqued in the article.