Years: 1966 - 1977
Styles: Folk, Pop Rock, Soft Rock
Cat Stevens - 12 string guitar, Acoustic guitar , Böhm Diamon Organ, Bass Guitar, Classical guitar or Spanish guitar, Double bass, Drums, Fender piano, Fender Rhodes , Grand piano, Guitar, Hammond organ, Keyboards, Lead guitar, Mellotron, MiniMoog, Percussion, Piano, Synthesizer, Vocals, Wurlitzer Electric Piano (in band: 1966-1977)
Yusuf Islam (born Steven Demetre Georgiou, 21 July 1948), commonly known by his former stage name Cat Stevens, is a British singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. His 1967 debut album reached the top 10 in the UK, and the album's title song "Matthew and Son" charted at number 2 on the UK Singles Chart. His albums "Tea for the Tillerman" (1970) and "Teaser and the Firecat" (1971) were both certified triple platinum in the US by the RIAA. His musical style consists of folk, pop, rock, and Islamic music.
His 1972 album "Catch Bull at Four" spent three weeks at number one on the Billboard 200, and fifteen weeks at number one in the Australian ARIA Charts. He earned two ASCAP songwriting awards in 2005 and 2006 for "The First Cut Is the Deepest", and the song has been a hit for four different artists. His other hit songs include "Father and Son", "Wild World", "Peace Train", "Moonshadow", and "Morning Has Broken". In 2007 he received the British Academy's Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Song Collection.
While studying a Hammersmith college in 1966 he met Mike Hurst (ex-Springfields). He produced first single „I Love My Dog”, after which Cat was signed by Tony Hall to new Decca subsidiary label Deram. It reached the UK Top 30, but was surpassed the next year when follow-up „Matthew and Son” hit No. 2, His songs were soon beeing covered by many, including P.P. Arnold (First Cut Is The Deepest) & Tremeloes (Here Comes My Baby).
After a barren chart spell and recuperation from TB two years previous, he signed new deal with Islandi n 1970 (A&M in America). He scored a comeback Top 10 hit with „Lady D’Arbanville”, which lent on the production skills of ex-Yardbirds Keith Relf. He stayed for the follow-up to „Mona Bone Jakon”, the 1970 classic album „Tea for the Tillerman”.
Cat Stevens virtually disappeared from the British pop scene in 1968, at the age of 20, after a meteoric start to his career. He had contracted tuberculosis and spent a year recovering, from both his illness and the strain of being a teenage pop star, before returning to action in the spring of 1970 -- as a very different 22-year-old -- with "Mona Bone Jakon". Fans who knew him from 1967 must have been surprised. Under the production aegis of former Yardbirds Paul Samwell-Smith, he introduced a group of simple, heartfelt songs played in spare arrangements on acoustic guitars and keyboards and driven by a restrained rhythm section.
Built on folk and blues structures, but with characteristically compelling melodies, Stevens' new compositions were tentative, fragmentary statements that alluded to his recent "Trouble," including the triviality of being a "Pop Star." But these were the words of a desperate man in search of salvation. "Mona Bone Jakon" was dominated by images of death, but the album was also about survival and hope. Stevens' craggy voice, with its odd breaks of tone and occasional huskiness, lent these sometimes sketchy songs depth, and the understated instrumentation further emphasized their seriousness.
. If Stevens was working out private demons on "Mona Bone Jakon", he was well attuned to a similar world-weariness in pop culture. His listeners may not have shared his exact experience, but after the 1960s they certainly understood his sense of being wounded, his spiritual yearning, and his hesitant optimism. "Mona Bone Jakon" was only a modest success upon its initial release, but it attracted attention in the wake of the commercial breakthrough of its follow-up, "Tea for the Tillerman".
"Mona Bone Jakon" only began Cat Stevens' comeback. Seven months later, he returned with "Tea for the Tillerman", an album in the same chamber-group style, employing the same musicians and producer, but with a far more confident tone. "Mona Bone Jakon" had been full of references to death, but "Tea for the Tillerman" was not about dying; it was about living in the modern world while rejecting it in favor of spiritual fulfillment. It began with a statement of purpose,
"Where Do the Children Play?," in which Stevens questioned the value of technology and progress. "Wild World" found the singer being dumped by a girl, but making the novel suggestion that she should stay with him because she was incapable of handling things without him. "Sad Lisa" might have been about the same girl after she tried and failed to make her way; now, she seemed depressed to the point of psychosis. The rest of the album veered between two themes: the conflict between the young and the old, and religion as an answer to life's questions.
"Tea for the Tillerman" was the story of a young man's search for spiritual meaning in a soulless class society he found abhorrent. He hadn't yet reached his destination, but he was confident he was going in the right direction, traveling at his own, unhurried pace. The album's rejection of contemporary life and its yearning for something more struck a chord with listeners in an era in which traditional verities had been shaken. It didn't hurt, of course, that Stevens had lost none of his ability to craft a catchy pop melody; the album may have been full of angst, but it wasn't hard to sing along to. As a result, "Tea for the Tillerman" became a big seller and, for the second time in four years, its creator became a pop star.
Cat went on to become one of the biggest stars of 70’s although his output became increasingly stakle., „Teaser and Firecat” (1971) was another collection of pleasant but ultimately unsatisfying singer songwriter mussing while „Catch Bull at Four” (1972) and „Foreigner” (1973) sounded overwrought and cluttered , a failing that marked the remainder of his muslim faith and change name of Yusef Islam.
2. The Great Rock Discography - Martin C.Strong, 1st Edition, Publisher: Crown Publishers, ISBN-10: 0812931114, p. 794-795
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