Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Retro Album Review: Cat Stevens - The First Cuts



CAT STEVEN:
THE FIRST CUTS

Retro Album Review of:
‘MATTHEW AND SON’
by CAT STEVENS
(1967, Deram SML 1004)

Salman Rushdie. Whenever I hear Yusuf Islam being lauded as a cultural ambassador and a man of peace, I think back to February 1989. Ayatollah Khomeini had declared a fatwa against the author of the ‘Satanic Verses’. Copies of the book were burnt (unread) in the streets of Bradford. Rushdie himself was forced into hiding, living an uncertain existence for years after. And the one-time Cat Stevens? As a then-recent convert to Islam, attending a seminar at Kingston University, he announced ‘he must be killed. The Qur’an makes it clear – if someone defames the prophet, then he must die’. I know that true zealotry is the preserve of new converts with something to prove, but in the great ethical balance, a human life, a book, and a tetchy easily-offended deity, no-one who claims to value the latter two over the first should ever be taken seriously as a man of peace deserving respect. He later qualified his statement, he was merely quoting Islamic doctrine on blasphemy – not necessarily advocating it. He even suggested he’d been joking, and had been quoted out of context. He cited a makeweight of Christian extremism, but this isn’t a comparative religion exercise, and seeking moral equivalence with the Ku Klux Klan is hardly helping his case. Yusuf Islam has never made any definitive declaration either against the fatwa, or confirming the absolute right of creative artists to create without the threat of terrorist reprisals.

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Back in a simpler, healthier time. Mike Hurst was depressed. The Springfields had broken up – the other two ex-members of the group were doing fine. Tom Springfield writing hits for the Seekers. Dusty getting hits herself. But so far, for Mike, not a lot had been moving. It was July 1966. Then David Georgiou called around, introduced his brother, Steven Dimitri Georgiou who sang a few sketchy songs he’d written. Quirky and off-the-wall, but with a buzzy feel to them. They were good. But the record company where Mike worked as producer weren’t interested. Born in London 21st July 1948, Steven Georgiou’s mother was Ingrid, a Swede. His father Stavros, although of Egyptian blood, was from Thessaloniki. He ran a Greek restaurant, the ‘Stavros’ close by Soho, off New Oxford Street where ‘Cat’ grew up, with brother David Gordon and sister Anita. Steven spent some time in Sweden. Then attended Hammersmith Art College. According to his first press, he liked Nina Simone and Marlon Brando, the ‘Daily Mirror’ comic-strip ‘The Perishers’, Tchaikovsky, Julie Christie and Elmer Bernstein. He began to write songs, which he played at the ‘Black Horse’ Folk Club pub off London’s Rathbone Street around 1964.

September. Mike Hurst was depressed. He bought a ticket out for LA. But before he flew he decided to take a chance on the young singer with the strange name. ‘Cat’ Georgiou. Like ‘Hep-Cat’, or Top Cat maybe? ‘Cat’ Steven Georgiou. Mike had just enough money left to finance a personal recording session. They cut “I Love My Dog” on the 7th September. Decca, in the meantime, were planning to launch a new ‘progressive’ subsidiary. PR-man Tony Hall wanted a ‘concept’ label. A UK Motown, but specialising in the newer experimental white music that was beginning to happen. The track that Mike and Cat had laid was exactly the type of thing he had in mind. ‘I was, by that time, getting used to failure’ admits Hurst, ‘I was really surprised that something to do with me was liked.’ He cancelled his plane ticket. Formed ‘Smash Productions’. Working with arranger Alan Tew he begins recording Cat Stevens in earnest, at Decca’s West Hampstead studios, with a sense that… ‘he has a long way to go…’ According to Cat, John Paul Jones played bass on the tracks.

September 30th the newly-convened Deram issues its first two singles. Singer-songwriter Beverley with “Happy New Year” c/w “Goodtime” (DM 101), and Cat’s “I Love My Dog” c/w “Portobello Road” (DM 102). A cello rasps out the simple melody-hook, successively embellished by strings, horns and orchestral builds, with splashes of acoustics and solo violin. As Cat contrasts the love, trust and loyalty he gets from his canine companion with that of his presumably fickle and less faithful lover. The flip is an equally effective take on the burgeoning Swinging London of “Dedicated Follower Of Fashion” or the Attack’s “Created By Clive”. Cat opens with a jaunty whistle as he travelogues walking along the famous street-market, with some lyrical nudges from American Pop-activist Kim Fowley, observing the new trendies in their ‘Indian boots and jello ties’, where ‘nothing looks weird, not even a beard’. There are cuckoo clocks, plastic socks, lampshades of old antique leather, and even ‘boots made out of feathers’. There’s a sense that it’s vital to be young and to be here, in the pulse of where it’s all happening and ‘growing old is my only danger’, tartly jibing at the new world-changing fashion that ‘that dress will never fit her’.

Although the concept of the ‘UK Motown’ later got lost the Deram aesthetic did survive long enough to produce classics by Procol Harum (“Whiter Shade Of Pale”) and Move (“Night Of Fear”). By October 15th “I Love My Dog” stood a no.48 on the chart. It climbed to no.43, no.32, then no.30. It scraped as high as no.28 before falling back. But it had afforded him his radio debut – on ‘Easy Beat’, and that vital ‘Top Of The Pops’ slot singing about how he didn’t need no cold water to make him realise how much he loved his dog. Some smart-ass journalist wrote about how he was the first Cat to make it with a Dog. But that’s just being facetious.

The next year it happened in earnest. 14th January saw “Matthew And Son” c/w “Granny” (DM 110) entering at no.23. It leaped to no.9, then hit the second slot for three straight weeks, beneath the Monkees “I’m A Believer”. Opening with a tripping cascade of harpsichord, before chronicling the Dickensian company where ‘the files in your head, you take ‘em to bed’, lines written about the name he’d noticed on a random doorway, set to compulsive choppy rhythms. Then, with a deceptively vaudevillian tap-tap to the build, he’s writing about his mother, and calling it “Granny”, about coming for advice on a love he can’t understand. ‘Granny’ has always straightened him out in the past, but this one’s really tough, ‘Granny what on earth can I do, ‘cos this little girl, she’s a-driving me wild’, with
w-i-l-d stretched out across multiple vowel-lengths for added emphasis.

He sang it on comedian Ken Dodd’s TV ‘Doddy’s Music Box’ (28th January). Two days later on TV’s ‘Monday Monday’. The kid with the dark shy Greek looks is a soft explosion. Impeccably, intricately produced delicate excitement of rippling rhythm offset with stylised personal lyrics. Highly individual songs, but given added impetus by the distinctive staccato typani-and-viola arrangements. Shyly smiling, suddenly adhered to every factory-girl’s wall in the country. He flies to Holland (2,3 and 4th February) for TV. There’s a nine-day American trip (from the 14th) for radio, TV and three live showcase gigs. He appears on ‘Ready Steady Go’. Then guests with Georgie Fame at the Savile Theatre show ‘Fame In 1967’, promoted by Brian Epstein.

By April the dashing percussion and military fife-and-drum motif drives “I’m Gonna Get Me A Gun” c/w “School Is Out” (DM 118) all the way up to number six. In promo-shots he poses with a revolver. Bad taste? Maybe, but the song is more a metaphor of exasperation at all the people who’ve pushed him around and put him down, than an anticipation of some kind of High School massacre shooting-spree that springs darkly to mind now. He’s been ‘demoralised too many times’ but – ‘ah-ha, no more’, his strident vocals seem certain of the imminent righteous revenge served from the barrel of his gun as he makes them all run. But hey, it’s a narrative device for a fine Pop song, it catches a real mood, we’ve all felt that way at one time or another. It doesn’t make us all serial killers. It contrasts with the naïve optimism and wide-open possibilities of the flip. It’s easy to forget just how young Cat Stevens was. The euphoria of that last day at school, ‘the best day, the best day of our lives’ is still fresh. The acoustic play-in leads to Soul unison-horns and a mid-section swaying-strings tempo change, with playful lyrics recalling the Mersey Poets – ‘I’m gonna buy a piece of the sky, and sell passing clouds’, ‘I’m gonna be a history-maker and call myself Richard III’. With the future as-yet unmade, life would never be quite this simple again.

By now Cat Stevens was the go-to name to note. The midas-tag that turned base-vinyl to hits. The April release of his first album – tagged for the ‘Matthew And Son’ (Deram DML 1004) hit, not only took him safely into the Top Ten, but produced a gush of covers. “Here Comes My Baby” gave the overlooked and close-to forgotten Tremeloes a new lease of life, all the way back into the Top Ten. Cat’s own version dispenses with their inebriated party-atmosphere and includes an extra verse, while – if Jimmy Page is really present at these sessions, it’s surely his phased guitar adding an edge of distorted strangeness. David Garrick cut “I’ve Found A Love” which got high-rotation plays on the Pirates, but Cat’s dramatically strummed original about the girl from the ‘back streets’ – with its gritty touch of the sixties working-class movies, is both more powerful and one of the album’s finest tracks. Mike Hurst was there onside too, producing a version of “Baby Get Your Head Screwed On” for the Billy Hall Brian Lake duo Double Feature as Deram 115. In Cat’s hands, with Cinemascope Western-style strings, he’s the messed-up girl’s ‘favourite Daddy’ offering support since she ‘kissed her psychiatrist’ and has never been the same since. It’s another off-the-wall lyric-twist that might have been prompted by nothing more than a random rhyme-possibility – what he termed a ‘meandering note’ method of composing, but it works remarkably well.

Alongside the original versions of these songs, produced by Mike with Alan Tew, plus the singles, there was “Bring Another Bottle, Baby”, a kind of throw-away bossa-nova with a careless ‘ding-dong-ding’ lyric. “The Tramp” is about a street-sleeper in his ‘turned-up collar and worn-out shoes’ offering the obligatory moment of social conscience, enlivened by a Tijuana-style horn break. And Cat’s relatively teen-straightforward early Pop-composition “Come On And Dance” suggests ‘I don’t care if you twist or jive’ with an almost pastiche sax-break. For ‘Disc’ music weekly Jonathan King was invited to do the track-by-track album review, he considered “I See A Road” ‘a chunky, beaty banjo-style pub song, superficially simple, but big things going on’. But even a relatively minor track such as “When I Speak To The Flowers” fades in with a quirky lyrical kick – this time it’s the flowers in his back yard that offer him advice on his unfaithful lover, because remembering the good times are only ‘making him blind’. And there are still a couple of promising indications of future growth. “Lady” looks forward to Cat’s later singer-songwriter maturity, while “Hummingbird” – a single for Jackie Trent, suggests more than just gratuitous freakiness. Jonathan King writes that it is ‘a song about a dying girl. With two rhythms playing against each other. Gently sung with feeling’. Not to over-rate it, there’s something of John Keats’ poem “Ode To A Nightingale” about its contrast with the sense of desolate tragedy within, unaware of the life-saving beauty of the bird singing outside the window.

Together, they formed ‘Cat Music’, circulating songwriter demos to other artists, so that outside of the album, there were other covers. Successful twee duo Paul And Barry Ryan – twin sons of Fifties music-poppet Marion Ryan, had a hit with Cat-song “Keep It Out Of Sight” singing perfectly at ease in matching suits on ‘Top Of The Pops’, while Steve Marriott and Andrew Loog Oldham took Soul Singer PP Arnold out of Ike Turner’s Ikettes, recorded her with Cat-song “The First Cut Is The Deepest”, and it went Top Twenty. Eclipsing a rival cover by Liverpool group the Koobas, it was already on its way to becoming Cat’s most-covered high-profile composition, with later versions by Rod Stewart and Sheryl Crow.

There was what they termed a ‘package tour’ headed by the bizarre combination of the Walker Brothers and Engelbert Humperdinck, with the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cat Stevens playing support slots. This diverse, highly unlikely bill opened at the Finsbury Park Astoria on 31st March and toured. To grab headlining press, with the collusion of manager Chas Chandler and a ‘New Musical Express’ journalist, press agent Tony Garland was dispatched to acquire lighter fluid, and it was here on opening night with Cat watching from the wings, that Jimi set fire to his first Fender Stratocaster, resulting in a hospital appointment for burnt fingers and a moment that set the precedent for rock theatrics. Jimi would later repeat the stunt at Monterey, on his way to breaking America. Although it was obviously impossible to compete with such visual flash, Cat’s brief set of hits and highlight album-tracks more than held its own.

In America “I Love My Dog” sneaked into both the ‘Cashbox’ and ‘Billboard’ Hot Hundreds. While San Francisco was germinating. Cat’s image had always been clean, neat and Mod. But suddenly, there he is on ‘Top Of The Pops’ in a full-length Kafan! Perhaps it was the influence of performing with The Mamas And The Papas downbill at the Royal Albert Hall (16th February)? But he was nineteen, and a whole generation was finding a new explanation, people in motion. The song he was doing was “A Bad Night” c/w “Laughing Apple” (DM 140). It was styled as constructed of ‘movements’ along the lines of ‘Good Vibrations’, starting with a slow acoustic lead-in, before exploding through jaggedy orchestrated bridges. But to some it sounds suspiciously like he’s strung together three incomplete song-bits into uneasy alliance. I bought it. I played it. I liked it. By 5th August it was standing at no.26, climbed two slots to no.24, another two taking it barely into the twenty – at twenty, then it disappeared. Cat played the mammoth ‘Love-In’ at the Paris Palais de Sports (17th and 18th November 1967) with a group called Zeus, formerly Yellow Rainbow, which he not only used as back-up but had signed to his ‘Doric’ management with the intention of producing for them. There was a ripple of Cat Stevens productions around this time, but for Zeus there were only unreleased recording sessions of the group working on three of Cat’s songs.

Perhaps everything was not right within Cat-world? In an interview with journalist Norrie Drummond – ‘Cat Is Sad’, he confessed to cigarette addiction, ‘I keep worrying what the inside of my lungs looks like. But smoking calms me’ he admits (18th August). Several months later the same paper, ‘New Musical Express’ (9th March), announced that he’d contracted tuberculosis, and wound up in hospital with a collapsed lung. He’d driven too far, too fast and soon. Another single – “Kitty” c/w “Blackness Of The Night”, very much in the same production-vein as what had gone before, crept as high as no.47 towards year’s end, 23rd December. It got no higher.

The sleeve-art of second album – ‘New Masters’ (Deram SML/DML 1018), shows Cat in ruffled shirt posing as some kind of Regency Poet or decadent aristo, with the title in elaborate arty script. But although it includes his own emotive version of “The First Cut Is The Deepest”, the ‘B’-sides of the previous two singles, plus failed ‘A’-side “Kitty”, and other strong songs such as “Ceylon City”, it passed by virtually unnoticed. Perhaps the use of the elaborate baroque arrangements that had served him so appropriately on the first album, did not stand up to repetition on newer tracks such as “I’m So Sleepy”, “Northern Wind”, “Smash Your Heart”, “Moonstone”, “I’m Gonna Be King”, “Come On Baby” or “I Love Them All”. And unfortunately, Cat Georgiou himself was unavailable for the regular obligatory promotional duties. Already averse to the whirlwind Pop-hype machine, as his Deram contract ticked towards its close he recovered. Waited. Lived and moved and had his being. Watched. Wrote, sometimes cynically. Sometimes hopefully. He relaxed sometimes. People moved on.

It could have ended there, but of course, it didn’t. The Cat came back. August 1969 saw a new single – “Where Are You” c/w “The View From The Top” (DM 260) getting praise, airplays, but no sales. Cat got himself a new manager. Name of Barry Cross. Alan Davies joined him on second guitar. Harvy Burns on drums. He found a new label – Island, and the combination took two-and-a-half months cutting the album ‘Mona Bone Jakon’ (Island ILPS 9118). Not a lengthy time period by subsequent industry standards. An eternity compared to the ‘Matthew And Son’ sessions. The group played some American clubs. The new singer-songwriter Folk-troubadour mode was very much on the uptick. A mood the new Cat Stevens songs caught precisely. Already in his first major come-back, he played LA with Carly Simon. With a deeper more resonant vocal style. A greater maturity.

He met Patti D’Arbonville, the model who’d been featured by Richard Avedon, Bert Stern, Patrick Lichfield, and who later quit Cat in favour of Don Johnson of ‘Miami Vice’. Cat sang about the affair in “Lady D’Arbanville” with dark gothic-romantic overtones, which crept his name back into the charts. By July 1970 the single had reached no.14, before peaking at no.6. It hung around a hell of a while. The album, in August, returned him to the LP charts, at no.28. A gentler rebirth. Less frantic. He moved from Shaftesbury Avenue to a three-storey house in Fulham. And it was great to have a more grown-up version of Cat Stevens back with us. No-one could begrudge him such deserved success. Cat Stevens was into a whole new phase, with albums to soundtrack a generation of bedsitter living. Mike Hurst was back on the street, hunting out the next groove…

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February 1989 is a long time ago. Things move on. New events, new crises. Who cares? After having given so much, perhaps it’s churlish to deny him a little spiritual solace? And he’d always shown evidence of being troubled by the contradictions of the Pop-Life, as he recounts in his song “(I Never Wanted) To Be a Star” on the much later album ‘Izitso’, which deliberately references back to this break-out first phase of his career, with lyrical nods at “Matthew And Son”, “I’m Gonna Get Me A Gun” and “A Bad Night”. Despite the apparent success, there was something incomplete about Cat, he was never comfortable with Pop Babylon. And in a world obsessed with shallow celebrity-culture for its own sake, surely it’s laudable that just one artist deliberately rejects it all because of its materialistic limitation?

He needed order. He wanted something to keep the madness at bay. And when lives are out of control, the imposition of a kind of supernatural discipline can provide, and enforce, structure. With a move from ‘I Love My Dog’ to ‘I Love My God’ as a fallback position when rehab fails. As the sixties bled over into the seventies there was a ripple of acid-casualty born-agains rediscovering the certainty of biblical texts to heal their shattered chemically-microwaved braincells – “Spirit In The Sky” and “Amazing Grace” were only its most visible manifestations. Even Bob Dylan went through the ‘Saved’ phase, writing songs of almost painful fragility. That Dylan fell into this particular brand of Christianity rather than what might have seemed a more logical Judaism, doesn’t figure in this. By its very nature, religion is not rational. Just as Cat Stevens chose to adopt the religion that had oppressed his Greek homeland for centuries, rather than – say, his family’s Greek Orthodoxy. That’s not the issue. Believe what you want to believe. But it’s not morally or socially acceptable to use that belief to kill, threaten to kill, or offer any kind of support to those who engage in such killings. That’s why, whenever I hear Yusuf Islam being lauded as a cultural ambassador and a man of peace, I still think Salman Rushdie.

CAT STEVENS:
FIRST CUTS, AND LATER CUTS

October 1966 – “I Love My Dog” c/w “Portobello Road” (Deram DM 102), reaches no.28. ‘B’-side carries a co-writer credit with Kim Fowley

January 1967 – “Matthew And Son” c/w “Granny” (Deram DM 110), reaches no.2

February 1967 – Tremeloes cover of “Here Comes My Baby” (CBS 202519) enters the chart
2 February, and hits no.4

March 1967 – “I’m Gonna Get Me A Gun” c/w “School Is Out” (Deram DM 118), reaches no.6

March 1967 – Birmingham duo Double Feature’s version of Cat’s “Baby Get Your Head Screwed On” c/w “Come On Baby” (Deram DM 115) issued. The track is later part of the 1970 ‘Psychedelic Trip no.4’ CD (See For Miles SEE206). Double Features follow-up is a cover of Mike D’Abo’s “Handbags And Gladrags”. Cat also produces a single for folky Peter Janes of “Emperors And Armies” c/w “Go Home Ulla” (CBS 203004) in October 1967, and singles “Little Maid’s Song” c/w “Grade 3 Section 2” (Decca F 12687) and “Molotov Molotov” c/w “Never Play A B-side” (January 1968, Decca F 12744) for Burmese singer Sasha Caro – real name Caro Minas

March 1967 – Paul And Barry Ryan’s cover of “Keep It Out Of Sight” (Decca F 12567) enters the chart 2 March, it reaches no.30

March 1967 – ‘Matthew And Son’ (LP, Deram DML 1004), reaches no.7 on LP chart. With side one: “Matthew And Son” (‘he’s got people who’ve been working for fifty years, no-one asks for more money ‘cos nobody dares, even though they’re pretty low and their rent’s in arrears’), “I Love My Dog” (‘all he asks from me is the food to give him strength, all he ever needs is love and that he knows he’ll get, so, I love my dog as much as I love you, but you may fade, my dog will always come through’), “Here Comes My Baby” (‘Disc’ review says ‘piano and foot-pedalled guitar adds vast lumbering bottom to the track’), “Bring Another Bottle, Baby” (‘featuring flute, this bossa nova sounds like a popularised standard. Smooth atmosphere, a first class LP track’), “Portobello Road”, “I’ve Found A Love”, “I See A Road” and side two: “Baby Get Your Head Screwed On” (which has ‘a Chinese influence – the lyrics spat out by Cat’), “Granny”, “When I Speak To The Flowers”, “The Tramp” (is ‘purified Stevens. One guitar, a bass and a trumpet playing ‘The Last Post’’), “Come And Dance”, “I See A Hummingbird”, and “Lady” (‘is like a ballad from a musical’)

May 1967 – PP Arnold’s “The First Cut Is The Deepest” (Immediate IM 047) enters chart 4 May, and reaches no.18. Rod Stewart enters the chart with the same song 23 April 1977 (Riva 7), it reaches no.1

August 1967 – “A Bad Night” c/w “The Laughing Apple” (Deram DM 140), reaches no.20, (lyrics run ‘Baby, you’re cool, and even though you’ve never been to school, I know you’re fine, but then you change your mind, then you start on driftin’, and fall on behind’)

December 1967 – “Kitty” c/w “Blackness Of The Night” (Deram DM 156), reaches no.47

December 1967 – ‘New Masters’ (LP, Deram DML 1018). No chart placing. Features side one: “Kitty” (‘when my little Kitty comes back, there’s gonna be a party’), “I’m So Sleepy”, “Northern Wind”, “The Laughing Apple”, “Smash Your Heart”, “Moonstone” and side two: “The First Cut Is The Deepest” (‘one of the late-Sixties great British Pop records’ according to ‘Record Collector’ magazine), “I’m Gonna Be King”, the ‘ultra-commercial’ “Ceylon City”, “Blackness Of The Night”, “Come On Baby (Shift That Log)” and “I Love Them All”. The CD reissue (Deram 820 767-2) adds bonus track the Dylanesque “Images Of Hell”, “Lovely City (When Do You Laugh)”, “The View From The Top”, the cynical “Here Comes My Wife” (stereo), “It’s A Super (Dupa) Life” – ‘cut when Stevens was seriously ill, which may account for the rather uncharacteristic air of jaundice in his lyrics’, “Where Are You”, and “A Bad Night” (mono). Musicians include Chris Hunt (drums on “Lovely City”), Arthur Greenslade, Lew Warburton, Ivor Raymonde

April 1968 – “Bird Has Flown” c/w “Breaking Down” (Deram DM 162)

July 1968 – “Lovely City” c/w “Image Of Hell” (Deram DM 178)

August 1969 – “Where Are You” c/w “The View From The Top” (Deram DM 260) the ‘New Musical Express’ review says ‘this is a beautiful self-penned ballad with an introspective and reflective lyric. The gorgeous stringy backing is sensitive and extremely imaginative, and Cat’s delivery is expressive and thoroughly disarming. I also like the unexpected middle passage, when it suddenly breaks into martial beat. This is a disc to savour in solitude’. ‘Record Mirror’ offers a ‘chart possibility’ rating, commenting that ‘Cat has sometimes suffered by an embarrassment of arrangement ideas, but this is much more simple’

June 1970 – “Lady D’Arbonville” (Island WIP 6086) reached no.8

July 1970 – ‘Mona Bone Jakon’ (LP, Island ILPS 9118). Reaches no.63 on LP chart. Musicians include Alun Davies (guitar), John Ryan (bass), Nicky Hopkins (keyboards), Harvey Burns (drums). Produced by Paul Samwell-Smith, with side one: “Lady D’Arbanville”, “Maybe You’re Right”, “Pop Star” (‘Record Collector’ calls it ‘an ironic dig at the Pop industry’), “I Think I See The Light”, “Trouble” and side two: “Mona Bone Jakon”, “I Wish, I Wish”, “Katmandu” (with Peter Gabriel on flute), “Time”, “Fill My Eyes” and “Lilywhite”

August 1970 – Jimmy Cliff version of “Wild World” (Island WIP 6087), written and produced by Cat, reaches UK no.8 (in June 1988 Maxi Priest has UK no.5 with the song)

November 1970 – ‘Tea For The Tillerman’ (LP, Island ILPS 9135). Reaches no.20 on LP chart. Musicians include Alun Davies (second guitar), John Ryan (bass), Harvey Burns (drums), Jack Rostein (violin), strings by Del Newman, Produced by ex-Yardbird Paul Samwell-Smith. Features side one: “Where Do The Children Play”, “Hard Headed Woman”, “Wild World”, “Sad Lisa”, “Miles From Nowhere” and side two: “But I Might Die Tonight”, “Longer Boats”, “Into White”, “On The Road To Find Out”, “Father And Son”, “Tea For The Tillerman”

1970 – ‘The World Of Cat Stevens’ (LP, Decca PA/SPA 93) first compilation of Deram sides sleeved in a new photo of Cat singing to a group of children. His tracks also feature on ‘World Of Hits’ (Decca SPA 7) with “I Love My Dog” and “Matthew And Son”, plus ‘Alan Freeman’s First Lesson’ (Decca SKL-R 5229) with “Matthew And Son”. Later, the 1992 ‘Cat Stevens: The Collection’ (Castle Communications CCSCD127) collects tracks from the same period

March 1971 – first American hit single, “Wild World” (A&M 1231) US single reaches no.11

1971 – “Tuesday’s Dead” c/w “Miles From Nowhere” (Island WIP 6102)

August 1971 – “Moon Shadow” c/w “Father And Son” (Island WIP 6092) reaches no.22. Also no.30 on US chart (A&M 1265). The ‘B’-side becomes a no.2 single for Boyzone in November 1995

October 1971 – ‘Teaser And The Firecat’ (Island ILPS 9154). Reaches no.3 on LP chart. With Alun Davies (guitar), Larry Steele (bass), Gerry Conway and Harvey Burns (drums), Produced by Paul Samwell-Smith, with side one: “The Wind”, “Rubylove”, “If I Laugh”, “Changes IV”, “How Can I Tell You”, side two: “Tuesday’s Dead”, “Morning Has Broken”, “Bitterblue”, “Moonshadow” and “Peace Train” which is US no.7 hit single in October (A&M 1291), later revived by 10,000 Maniacs

January 1972 – “Morning Has Broken” (Island WIP 6121) reaches no.9. A song written by Eleanor Farjeon. Rick Wakeman on keyboards. A US no.6 hit in April (A&M 1335)

August 1972 – Alun Davies solo LP ‘Daydo’ (CBS 65108) produced by Cat Stevens who also plays piano, with Paul Samwell-Smith

October 1972 – ‘Catch Bull At Four’ (Island ILPS 9206). Reaches no.2 on LP chart. Produced by Paul Smmwell-Smith. Musicians include Alun Davies (guitar), Jean Roussel (piano), Gerry Conway (drums) and Del Newman, with side one: “Sitting” (a December US no.16 single, A&M 1396), “Boy With The Moon And Stars In His Head”, “Angelsea” (with Linda Lewis and Lauren Cooper), “Silent Sunlight”, “Can’t Keep It In”, side two: “Eighteenth Avenue”, “Freezing Steel” (with CS Choir vocal backing), “O Caritas” (with lyric-translater Jeremy Taylor on Spanish guitar), “Sweet Scarlet” and “Ruins”

December 1972 – “Can’t Keep It In” (Island WIP 6152) reaches no.13

July 1973 – ‘Foreigner’ (Island ILPS 9240). Reaches no.3 on LP chart. Produced by Cat Stevens in Jamaica, includes side one: “Foreigner Suite” (with Gerry Conway drums), side two: “The Hurt” (an August US no.31 hit single, A&M 1418), “How Many Times” (with Herbie Flowers bass), “Later”, “100 I Dream”. Other musicians include Jean Roussel (keyboards), Phil Uphurch (guitar), Paul Martinez (bass), Bernard Purdie (drums), Patti Austin (vocal) and the Tower Of Power horns

1973 – “The Hurt” c/w “Silent Sunlight” (Island WIP 6163)

April 1974 – ‘Buddha And The Chocolate Box’ (Island WIP 9274). Reaches no.3 on LP chart. Musicians include Alun Davies, Jean Rousel, Bruce Lynch, and Gerry Conway (fresh from Folk-Rockers Eclection), with side one: “Music”, “Oh Very Young” (an April US no.10 hit single, A&M 1503), “Sun / C 79”, “Ghost Town”, “Jesus”, side two: “Ready”, “King Of Trees”, “A Bad Penny”, “Home In The Sky”

July 1974 – ‘Cat Stevens: Greatest Hits’ (Island ILPS 9310). Reaches no.2 on LP chart. With “Wild World”, “Oh Very Young”, “Another Saturday Night”, “Moon Shadow”, “Peace Train”. Also includes US January 1975 no.26 hit single of “Ready” (A&M 1645) – originally from ‘Buddha And The Chocolate Box’, and US August no.33 hit single “Two Fine People” (A&M 1700) as bonus track

August 1974 – “Another Saturday Night” (Island WIP 6206) reaches no.19 in the UK, and no.6 in the US (A&M 1602), revival of old Sam Cooke hit

1975 – ‘The View From The Top’ (Decca DPA 3019/3020) further compilation of Deram material

1975 – ‘Numbers: A Pythagorean Theory Tale’ (Island ILPSP 9370) concept album of Polygor Palace and its inhabitants, Monad, Dupey, Trezlar, Cubis, Cizlo, Hexidor, Septo, Octav an Novim

May 1977 – Linda Lewis LP ‘Woman Overboard’ includes two Cat Stevens compositions. He also produced her single “Come Back And Finish What You Started”, and originally wrote “Remember The Days Of The Old Schoolyard” for her earlier single

May 1977 – ‘Izitso’ (Island ILPS 9451). Reaches no.18 on LP chart. Musicians include. Co-produced by Dave Kershenbaum, with side one: “Remember The Days Of The Old Schoolyard” (duet with Elkie Brooks), “Life”, “Killin’ Time”, “Kypros” (with Andy Newmark on drums), “Bonfire”, side two: “I Never Wanted To Be A Star”, “Crazy”, “Sweet Jamaica”, “Was Dog A Doughnut?” (written with Bruce Lynch and Jean Roussel, with Chick Corea on keyboards) and “Child For A Day” (written by Paul Travis and David Gordon, with Barry Beckett on keyboards)

July 1977 – “Remember The Days Of The Old Schoolyard” (Island WIP 6387) reaches UK no.44, and US no.33 (A&M 1948)

1979 – ‘Back To Earth’ (Island ILPS). His last studio album for thirty years, and his last recording as ‘Cat Stevens’. With side one: “Just Another Night” (with Brian Cole steel guitar), “Daytime” (with co-producer Paul Samwell-Smith backing vocals), “Bad Brakes”, “Randy”, “The Artist”, side two: “Last Love Song”, “Nascimento”, “Father”, “New York Times” (with Luther Vandross vocals) and “Never”

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