Al Stewart – Year of the cat (Epic #304)

The Epic 2017 Project #304: 171031

Al Stewart – Year of the cat (1976)

Year of the Cat is the seventh studio album by Al Stewart, released in 1976 and was produced and engineered by Alan Parsons; it is considered his masterpiece and certainly always features in my ever-changing top 100 albums. Its sales were helped by the hit single “Year of the Cat”, “one of those ‘mysterious woman’ songs,” co-written by Peter Wood. The other single from the album was “On the Border”.

Stewart had all of the music and orchestration written and completely recorded before he even had a title for any of the songs. In a Canadian radio interview he stated that he has done this for six of his albums, and he often wrote four different sets of lyrics for each song. The title track derives from a song Stewart wrote in 1966 called “Foot of the Stage” with prescient lyrics about Tony Hancock, one of Britain’s favourite comedians who tragically committed suicide two years later. When Stewart discovered that Hancock was not well known in the United States, he went back to his original title “Year of the Cat”.

While Stewart is known for his guitar virtuosity, the song is recognized for producing amazing interplay of multiple guitars, piano, saxophone, violin and drums.

Steely Dan – Aja (Epic #303)

The Epic 2017 Project #303: 171030

Steely Dan – Aja (1977)

Aja (pronounced Asia) was the sixth album by jazz rock band Steely Dan. Originally released in 1977 on ABC Records, it became the group’s best-selling album. The credits for Aja list nearly 40 musicians, as band leaders Donald Fagen and Walter Becker pushed Steely Dan further into experimenting with different combinations of session players.

Peaking at No. 3 on the U.S. charts and No. 5 in the United Kingdom, Aja was the band’s first platinum album, eventually selling over 5 million copies. The record spawned a number of hit singles, including “Peg”, “Deacon Blues”, and “Josie”.

In July 1978, the album won the Grammy Award for Best Engineered Non-Classical Recording. In 2003 it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and ranked number 145 on Rolling Stone’s “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list. Aja is often cited as one of the best test recordings for audiophiles, due to its high production standards.

Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball (Epic #302)

The Epic 2017 Project #302: 171029

Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball (2012)

Marking his 17th studio album, Wrecking Ball, released in May 2012, features 11 new Springsteen recordings and was produced by Ron Aniello with Bruce Springsteen and executive producer Jon Landau. Said long-time manager Landau says…

Bruce has dug down as deep as he can to come up with this vision of modern life. The lyrics tell a story you can’t hear anywhere else, and the music is his most innovative of recent years. The writing is some of the best of his career, and both veteran fans and those who are new to Bruce will find much to love on Wrecking Ball

Sparks – Mael Intuition (Epic #301)

The Epic 2017 Project #301: 171028

Sparks – Mael Intuition (1977)

Sparks formed in Los Angeles in 1972 with brothers Ron on keyboards and Russell Mael on vocals. Sparks’ music is often accompanied by intelligent, sophisticated, and acerbic lyrics, and an idiosyncratic, theatrical stage presence, typified in the contrast between Russell’s animated, hyperactive frontman antics and Ron’s deadpan scowling. They are also noted for Russell Mael’s falsetto voice and Ron Mael’s keyboard playing style.

While achieving chart success in various countries around the world including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and the United States, they have enjoyed a cult following since their first releases. During the late 1970s, when in collaboration with Giorgio Moroder, Sparks reinvented themselves as a new wave/synth-pop band, and abandoned the traditional rock band line-up. Their frequently changing styles and visual presentations have kept the band at the forefront of modern, art-pop music.

Mael Intuition was a best of compilation released in 1977.

Spandau Ballet – Journeys to Glory (Epic #300)

The Epic 2017 Project #300: 171027

Spandau Ballet – Journeys to glory (1981)

Journeys to Glory was the first studio album by Spandau Ballet. It was released on 6 March 1981 by Chrysalis Records, just ten days after its recording at Trident Studios. The first editions of the vinyl version (like mine) have an embossed cover. just 5,000 of these were pressed rendering it something of a collectors item some 36 years on.The album was re-released in a remastered and expanded 2 CD Special Edition on 8 March 2010.

When it was released the album was considered “fresh, bold, and even somewhat avant-garde”Many fans feel that the spare, drum-led, funk-undertones are more original than the group’s later soul-influenced recordings. AllMusic describes the recordings as “completely unforgettable” and Hadley’s semi-operatic vocals as “really strong” and demonstrating a “willingness to experiment”.

Son of Dave – Explosive Hits (Epic #298)

The Epic 2017 Project #298: 171025

Son of Dave – Explosive Hits (2016)

Benjamin Darvill (born January 4, 1967), known by his stage name Son of Dave, is a Canadian musician and singer–songwriter, based in the United Kingdom. He was a member of Grammy award-winning folk rock band Crash Test Dummies in which he played harmonica, mandolin, guitar and percussion before returning to his blues, Beat-Box and harmonica driven solo work in 2000.

Darvill moved to London in 1998 and has remained there since. He’s recorded six albums to date and performed over eight hundred shows across Europe, as well as performing in Canada, the United States, Australia, South Africa, Uganda, Japan, Russia, and Cuba. Explosive Hits was released in 2016.