Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “Year of the Cat” by Al Stewart
So, 2015 is not the year of the cat…it’s the year of the goat (or sheep), but that’s just the hook that led me to choose this fine tune as the first Song of the Day by Eric Berman of a new year. Besides, the Chinese New Year is still a few months off in the distance…so, Happy Rosh Hashanah everyone…but I digress.
While most people remember Al Stewart for a clutch of radio-friendly pop tunes from the late 1970s including “Time Passages,” “On The Border” and today’s 1976 top-ten smash, Stewart had already recorded singles with members of The Yardbirds, appeared at the very first Glastonbury Festival in England (1970), and was well known throughout Europe for his historically-themed folk and progressive rock recordings.
In 1965, Stewart moved to London where he roomed with another aspiring songwriter, Paul Simon, who was spending a year abroad wood-shedding and recording the solo album “The Paul Simon Songbook” before resuming his recording career with Art Garfunkel.
Meanwhile, Stewart continued to release albums as his folk recordings began to metamorphose into progressive rock with the addition of electric instruments and lengthy multi-suite compositions. His exceptional second album “Love Chronicles” (1969) has an eighteen minute title track that features Jimmy Page and Richard Thompson on guitar.
In America, Stewart came to the attention of prog-rock fans, with his 1973 album “Past, Present and Future” and its FM radio staple “Nostradamus.” His career in America began to get traction with the release of “Modern Times” in 1975, but it wasn’t until he met up with producer Alan Parsons and recorded “The Year of the Cat” album that Stewart became a household name around the world.
The 1978 album, “Time Passages,” followed and was also a major hit, and he never really stopped recording, although many of his albums from the 1980s and on have never seen a release in America. Today, he continues to perform live and occasionally records albums.
Today’s Song of the Day by Eric Berman is a live version of Stewart’s signature song as performed on the British music TV show, “The Old Grey Whistle Test.”