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, its sales 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 wrote “Lord Grenville” about the Elizabethan sailor and explorer Sir Richard Grenville (1542–1591).
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 writes 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”.