Al Stewart – Year Of The Cat – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

For the first time on our site, TRIPLE PLUS MASTER TAPE SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! We play stacks of copies of this one a few times every year, but I don’t recall ever hearing one that sounded so correct from the first song to the last.

Let me tell you — when this album sounds as bad as most copies do, the music just plain does not work. So many copies add a nasty layer of grit to the vocals, and the effect is positively painful. This copy shows you a Year Of The Cat that is just not available on the typical copy, and certainly not on the MoFi pressing either.

This White Hot Stamper is the UNDISPUTED WINNER and Current Heavyweight Champion of our latest Hot Stamper shootout for Al Stewart’s Masterpiece, Year of the Cat. How come more of these don’t turn up on the site? Simple — most copies of this record just plain SUCK. We kept asking ourselves Where is the Famous Alan Parsons’ Dark Side of the Moon Magic that’s supposed to be on this recording? This record was THE Demo Disc in every stereo store in town when it came out back in the day, but we could not find any correlation between that fact and the sound we were hearing on copy after copy. The full, rich sound we knew so well from other Alan Parsons’ productions was simply nowhere to be found.

Until this bad boy copy came along. Folks, here is the True Audiophile Demo Disc Sound you remember. It wasn’t all a dream. It was real! Rich acoustic guitars, tubey-magical sweetness on the vocals, ambience around everything and everyone, huge amounts of space revealed by the breathtaking transparency of this pressing, top and bottom extension completely unlike the average copy. Everything that this album was supposed to do was finally happening when we dropped the needle on this side one. Talk about BIG SOUND, here it was!

Both sides here are LOVELY — big, bold, rich, full-bodied, clean, clear, and lively. The immediacy to the vocals is off the charts, and the transparency and spaciousness allow the ambitious production to really work. The bottom end is STUNNING — rich and meaty with real weight. There’s less grit to the vocals than we heard on any other copy we played. Overall, the sound is natural, balanced, relaxed, and smooth. A+++ all the way, baby!

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Lord Grenville
On the Border
Midas Shadow
Sand in Your Shoes
If It Doesn’t Come Naturally, Leave It

Side Two

Flying Sorcery
Broadway Hotel
One Stage Before
Year of the Cat

AMG  Review

Al Stewart had found his voice on Past, Present & Future and found his sound on Modern Times. He then perfected it all on 1976’s Year of the Cat, arguably his masterpiece… a tremendous example of how good self-conscious progressive pop can be, given the right producer and songwriter — and if you’re a fan of either prog or pop and haven’t given Al Stewart much thought, prepare to be enchanted.