Our Top 10 Al Stewart Songs list defines an artist with one of the most unique voices in rock and roll history. Al Stewart songs are fused with vivid creative imagery fueled by thoughtful lyrics and original melodic ideas. Al Stewart released his debut album Bedsitter Images in 1967 almost ten years before he became a household name with his Year of the Cat success. His follow-up album Love Chronicles was released in 1969. From that point on, Al Stewart maintained a steady release schedule of records. From 1967 to 1978, Al Stewart released eight albums. In the 1990’s Stewart released two more records, followed by three studio albums in the 2000’s.
Throughout his career, Al Stewart has been adamant about composing material that did not follow traditional songwriting ideas. Specifically, Al Stewart’s lyrical subjects had been focused on historic events and fantasy as opposed to the traditional love song. Al Stewart shared some similarities in use of imagery with the ways Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin or Jon Anderson of Yes would paint a musical picture with mystical lyricism and prose. Our top 10 Al Stewart Songs list takes a look at some of our favorites that are a must for anyone first discovering the music of the great Al Stewart
# 10 – Roads To Moscow
The beautiful opening classical guitar riff of “Road To Moscow,” is the perfect way to start out our top 10 Al Stewart songs list as the classical playing simply defines the class that is Al Stewart. The great Al Stewart song “Road To Moscow,” was released on the Past, Present and Future album. That record was issued in 1973. A year in which rock music saw some of the greatest albums released like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy and The Who’s Quadrophina. WOW!
# 9 – Don’t Forget Me
Al Stewart’s beautiful song “Don’t Forget Me,” was released on Stewart’s 1993 album Famous Last Words. The album was Al Stewart’s twelfth release. The sophisticated piano intro and boss nova beats sets up a classy listen on one of the strongest Al Stewart songs on the record.
# 8 – Lord Grenville
Al Stewart’s “Lord Grenville,” was the opening track on his 1976 album Year Of The Cat. The song opens with Al Stewart’s vocal accompanied by a rhythmic British sea shanty guitar groove that is soon surrounded by Alan Parsons sweeping string section. Al Stewart’s tale of a sixteenth century English Naval commander is a haunting exercise in brilliant songwriting and performance.
# 7 – Terminal Eyes
Al Stewart’s “Terminal Eyes,” is the second song from his brilliant Past, Present and Future album to make our top 10 Essential Al Stewart songs list. The song was inspired by The Beatles, “I Am The Walrus.”
# 6 – Carol
Coming in at number 6 on our top 10 Essential Al Stewart song list is the track “Carol.” The song appeared on Al Stewart’s 1975 album Modern Times. Al Stewart’s song “Carol,” displays some of the rhythmic sense and melody that Al Stewart would explore even more successfully on his next album Year of the Cat. The album Modern Times was released with an alternate cover in the United States as opposed to the United Kingdom release. The U.S. cover displayed Al Stewart sitting in a car owned by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin.
# 5 – On The Border
Al Stewart’s “On The Border,” is the third songs from the Year of the Cat album to appear on our top 10 Essential Al Stewart songs list. The album Year of the Cat was so strong that it could have easily filled up our 10 Essential Al Stewart’s songs list with most cuts from the record. On The Border appeared as the second track on the record. The Year of the Cat album cover was designed by the legendary Hipgnosis company who were responsible for designing some of the most famous albums covers in classic rock history including the covers for Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here.
# 4 – Song On The Radio
It must have been difficult for Al Stewart to comprehend the amount of interest there would be in how he would follow-up the success of the Year Of The Cat album. Al Stewart answered the call with another brilliant album entitled Time Passages two years later. Song on the Radio was the second single released from the album. The song’s opening saxophone introduction seems to be a tribute to Carole King’s “Jazzman,” and is probably the “Song on the Radio,” that is on Al Stewart’s mind.
# 3 – Midnight Rocks
As we close in on the number one spot on our Top 10 Essential Al Stewart songs list, we would like to feature a song from Al Stewart’s 24 Carrots album. The record was released in 1980 and featured Al Stewart’ brand new band Shot In The Dark. The single “Midnight Rocks,” reached the number 30 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
# 2 – Time Passages
As we mentioned before, following up a song and album like Year Of The Cat must have been a very daunting task for Al Stewart. It’s amazing how many great artist had the biggest hits of their careers in 1976. Queen scored huge with “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Thin Lizzy with “The Boys Are Back In Town,” Blue Oyster Cult with “Don’t Fear The Reaper.” All those bands continued on for years and followed up with great material despite releasing the biggest hits of their careers in 1976. Al Stewart was no exception. “Time Passages,” was a brilliant and well written follow-up. It was no way as big as “Year of the Cat,” commercially, but from an artistic perspective it was very successful.
# 1 – Year Of The Cat
Al Stewart’s Year of the Cat album was released in October of 1976. The album was produced by Alan Parsons. The music was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London. The album reached the Billboard top 10 albums charts peaking at the number five position. The single “Year of the Cat,” reached the top 10 Billboard singles charts reaching number eight. “Year of the Cat,” was a mesmerizing song that sounded like nothing else on the radio. Rock fans fell instantly in love with the song and it has remained one of the great rock single releases of all time.
Updated Nov 8, 2020