OK, indulge me on this one!
Al Stewart's 1976 Year of The Cat, is one of the best albums of the 1970s. It's not always the case that very popular albums are good, and it's even less often that very good albums are popular, but in this case, Year of the Cat was definitely both. Stewart seems to have always thought of himself as more of a "folkie" than a rock star, so pairing him with producer Alan Parsons was something of a stretch, but in retrospect, it seems impossible to imagine anything else.
There's not really a weak song on the album, and "Year of the Cat", classic though it is, isn't even the best track, an honor won by the haunting "Flying Sorcery". I used to play "If it Doesn't Come Naturally, Leave It", as an audio argument against a particularly ill-starred project which was stomping us into the ground, and as I get older "On the Border" with its
In the village where I grew up, nothing seems the same, though you never see the change from day to day..
lyric seems more and more apt.
So anyway, I was very happy to see that Stewart was coming to Newberry last week. The Opera House is very easy to find from I-26, and seems to be run entirely by pleasant, retired women. It's quite a small venue, and Stewart brought only one other person on stage with him, guitar player (and Phd..) Dave Nachmanoff. Now, why Al Stewart, with one of the best known albums of the rock era is playing small town South Carolina with a one man band, I can't say. I'd like to think that it's because he's really more into the "folk" thing than the over-the-top "rock tour" thing, but you sometimes hear about how famous people were locked into bad record contracts, had expensive divorces or crooked managers, so who knows. The key thing is that he was in good voice and seemed happy to be in Newberry. The set list was pretty eclectic, and while he did hit a number of "Year of the Cat" tracks, he opted out of most of his other radio hits, so I heard a good number of songs that were new to me.
Afterwards both Stewart and Nachmanoff sat in the lobby chatting and signing autographs. It was quite an enjoyable and low key evening, and I could still hear the next day, and my sinuses weren't clogged up with smoke..
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