Posts Tagged ‘Cat Stevens’

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Yusuf / Cat Stevens celebrates his 1971 landmark album “Teaser And the Firecat” with this extensive 4CD, Blu-Ray, 2LP and 7” set in a rigid clamshell box.

Following last year’s 50th anniversaries of the era-defining albums, “Tea for the Tillerman” and “Mona Bone Jakon“, 2021 will see Yusuf / Cat Stevens celebrate the succeeding album that immortalized his status as a forerunner in the singer-songwriter movement. The 1971 multi-platinum selling landmark record, “Teaser and the Firecat”, will be celebrated as a 50th anniversary Super Deluxe Edition box set, due on November 12th, 2021 via A&M/UMe.

A previously unheard recording of the Cat Stevens classic and Teaser album highlight “Moonshadow (Olympic Studio Demo, 1970)” is released today. Actually recorded at Olympic Studio’s before the release of the two 1970 albums, Mona Bone Jakon and Tea For The Tillerman, this version provides a fascinating insight into the origins of one of the most enduring songs of the 1970s.

Cat Stevens achieved phenomenal success with his early work, but it was Teaser and the Firecat, his third LP with Island Records and A&M in the U.S. – that propelled Cat Stevens into superstardom, spawning some of his most unforgettable hits including “Moonshadow,” “Peace Train” and “Morning Has Broken,” songs by a youthful spiritual seeker, wise beyond his years that would lay the pretext for a poignant new wave of soulful troubadours and poets. Later, “The Wind” would see Teaser and the Firecat celebrated anew, rising to prominence following the song’s use in Wes Anderson’s much celebrated film “Rushmore” as well as the Oscar-winning Cameron Crowe film, “Almost Famous.” Through his spell-binding gift for song writing and his introspective vision, Cat delivered a universal sense of hope and peace in Teaser and the Firecat that still resonates profoundly to this day.

Teaser and the Firecat walked tall in what was a year of classic albums and events that would echo down the decades. The 12 months of 1971 was a transitional year in pop culture in which the album joined John Lennon’s Imagine, David Bowie’s Hunky Dory, Joni Mitchell’s Blue, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers and Led Zeppelin IV as the soundtrack to the momentous 500,000 strong anti-Vietnam war March on Washington D.C., the largest demonstration against US war in history, and the “Fight of the Century” at Madison Square Garden, New York City which saw Joe Frazer hand Muhammad Ali his first ever defeat. With the ’60s now in the rear-view mirror – The Beatles gone, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin having already passed on, and Jim Morrison tragically joining their number in July ’71 – there was a distinct mood of change in the air. Along with burgeoning heavy rock and the socially-conscious R&B of Funkadelic and Sly And The Family Stone, it was the era of the poetical singer-songwriter. As well as being part of this latter movement, Cat Stevens was himself inspired by it.

Half a century later, Teaser and the Firecat has been given the ultimate treatment in a brand new Super Deluxe Edition set; the most in-depth and definitive version of the album possible. Presented in a remastering of Yusuf’s original artwork, the release will include: 41 previously unreleased audio tracks and 21 live video performances on disc for the first time, amongst an entire CD and LP of studio demos and alternate mixes; a stunning 44-page, 12” soft cover replica of the original Teaser and the Firecat book, hand written and illustrated by Yusuf in 1972, and now featuring text in 10 languages; and a 108-page hard-cover 12” essay book, alongside a host of other rarities across 4CDs, Blu-Ray, 2 LPs and 7” vinyl. The set will be presented in a rigid clamshell box and is the latest in a series of boxsets – so far consisting of Back To Earth, Mona Bone Jakon and Tea for the Tillerman – that celebrate the albums in full depth with the direct involvement and direction of Yusuf and his son Yoriyos, who curates and designs each box set.

There will also be a slimmed down version of the Super Deluxe Edition, including the 108-page book in a soft cover format, along with the 4CDs and Blu-ray, housed in a rigid slipcase. Other 50th Anniversary reissue formats include a 2CD Deluxe Edition, plus 1CD and 1LP Remasters.

The 50th anniversary remaster of the album was mixed by David Hefti on CD and LP, the Super Deluxe Edition also includes a CD of previously unreleased studio material and bonus tracks, an alternate version of the album on LP, as well as a third and fourth CD featuring 23 live performances from 1971. The 50th anniversary remaster was completed at Abbey Road Studios, and was overseen by original album producer, Paul Samwell-Smith.

The set includes a remastered 7” single of “Moonshadow,” backed with a previously unreleased Spike Milligan narration of the track from the 1977 Teaser and the Firecat animated video. The 50thanniversary edition also includes an exclusive vinyl LP, track listed with 5 live performances at Montreux in 1971 and six BBC Recordings, as well as a Blu-Ray disc featuring a restored version of the 1977 animated video for “Moonshadow,” a live performance of “The Wind” from 2020, plus 21 live TV performances.

Also featured in the collection is “Bitterblue,” a newly recorded and never-before-heard version of the classic Teaser album track. Yusuf’s rich vocal, sung a full octave lower than the original, imparts a new sense of experience and gravity to the song whose lyrics seem to resonate with a whole new level of meaning: “I’ve been waiting a long time/To be back beyond.”

Ahead of the 50th anniversary Teaser and the Firecat celebrations, 2021 has seen Yusuf / Cat Stevens partner with New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds to produce “Peace Train,” a children’s book celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the iconic song’s original release. Featuring joyful illustrations and the timeless lyrics of the much-loved peace anthem, this hopeful picture book – now a New York Times bestseller itself – continues Yusuf’s commitment to children’s education and shared love for people of all cultures and identities.

Elsewhere, July 2021 saw a special Record Store Day release of the 1971 “Harold And Maude” soundtrack, featuring iconic songs from Tea for the Tillerman and Mona Bone Jakon alongside two new compositions for the film, “If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out” and “Don’t Be Shy.”

50th Anniversary Super Deluxe Editions of Teaser and the Firecat will be released on November 12th via A&M/UMe.

Buy Online Cat Stevens - Tea For The Tillerman

Following his spiritual and artistic rebirth, and hot on the heels of his incredibly well received release, ‘Mona Bone Jakon’, Cat Stevens unveiled his second album of the year in November 1970 … and it was to become one of the defining musical statements of the new decade. ‘Tea For The Tillerman’, not only consolidated Cat’s success in the UK and forged him a glittering new career in the USA, it also set him on the road to global superstardom and gave the world songs like ‘Wild World’, ‘Father & Son’, ‘Where Do The Children Play?’ and many more.

To commemorate the album’s 50th anniversary comes this definitive super deluxe box set of Tea For The Tillerman’. With the songs’ messages as powerfully relevant today as they were in 1970, the original album is represented here on CD by a brand new 2020 remaster at Abbey Road Studios by Geoff Pesche, overseen by original producer Paul Samwell-Smith, as well as a new 2020 Mix on CD by David Hefti. It also includes, in full, Yusuf’s September 2020 reimagined ‘Tea For The Tillerman 2’ album featuring new interpretations of the classic originals. The box also includes an exclusive fourth CD of outtakes, alternate versions and demos, and a fifth featuring 25 live performances from 1971 including some recorded at the legendary LA music venue The Troubadour.

Alongside the 5CDs and gatefold vinyl LP the box also comes with a live 12” vinyl E.P. of the Troubadour recordings and, on BluRay, the original promo video of ‘Father & Son’, plus live performances, and the HD audio of the new ‘Tea For The Tillerman’ 2020 Mix. Also included is a 98-page beautifully illustrated hardcover book with extensive new sleeve notes. Finally housed in a card envelope within the box is a ‘Pick Up A Good Book’ bookmark, a Yusuf / Cat Stevens designed ‘Miles From Nowhere’ print, a reproduction handwritten lyric sheet for ‘Miles From Nowhere’, a fold-out ‘Live From The Troubadour 1970’ poster, and a ‘Tea For The Tillerman’ sticker.

Seven months after Mona Bone Jakon, Stevens released Tea For The Tillerman.  The multiplatinum album cemented the artist’s reputation and included some of his best-known hits, including “Wild World,” “Father and Son,” and timeless classics like “Where Do the Children Play” and “On the Road To Find Out.”  The deluxe 50th anniversary box packs in 5 CDs, a Blu-ray, an LP, and an etched 12″.  CD 1 includes the 2020 remaster of the original album mix, while CD 2 houses the 2020 remix (also on LP).  The recent album “Tea For The Tillerman 2″ is reprised on CD 3, while CD 4 contains demos, alternate versions, and unreleased tracks.  Among them are “Can This Be Love?” “It’s So Good,” “Love Lives in the Sky,” “The Joke,” and “Honey Man,” a duet with Elton John.  Also featured are “If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out” and “Don’t Be Shy” from the still-absent-from-CD soundtrack to Harold and Maude.  CD 5 is filled with 25 live recordings from The Troubadour in L.A. (also on an etched 12″),  KCET also in L.A., the BBC In Concert performance, Beat Club, various French TV appearances, and four songs recorded at New York’s Fillmore East.  The BluRay includes the promo video for “Father and Son,” TV appearances on KCET, a trio of songs from the BBC, and performances on Beat Club and French television.  If that weren’t enough, there’s also high-res audio of the 2020 remix of Tea For The Tillerman.

Slimmer editions include a 1-CD standard edition book set with the 2020 remaster of the original album mix and a 2-CD deluxe edition with the remaster and a selection of demos and live recordings.

In all it’s a fitting celebration for these landmark albums that not only brought Cat Stevens/Yusuf newfound attention worldwide, but also cemented a sound that would take hold in the ’70s and continue to influence musicians to this day.  The 50th anniversary editions of Mona Bone Jakon and Tea For The Tillerman are available for pre-order now, due to ship close to the December 4th release date.  You can peruse the track listings and place your orders below!  And check out the new singles, “I Want Some Sun” and “Can This Be Love,” to whet your appetite. 

Buy Online Cat Stevens - Mona Bone Jakon

Back in 1970 and following a period of illness and recuperation, singer-songwriting troubadour Cat Stevens re-emerged with a new record deal with Island Records and a spiritual and artistic rebirth. ‘Mona Bone Jakon’, his first album for Island, showcased a markedly different change in direction for Cat, unveiling with it a remarkable set of new  compositions that included classics like ‘Trouble’, ‘Maybe You’re Right’ and the UK hit single ‘Lady D’Arbanville’.

To commemorate the album’s 50th anniversary comes this definitive super deluxe box set of ‘Mona Bone Jakon’. Sounding as fresh as the day it was recorded, the original album is represented here by a brand new 2020 remaster of ‘Mona Bone Jakon’ by Geoff Pesche at Abbey Road, overseen by original producer Paul Samwell-Smith 2020 on CD, as well as a new 2020 Mix by David Hefti on both CD and LP. The set also includes an exclusive third CD of previously unreleased demos, and a fourth featuring 18 live performances from 1970/71.

This box is rounded out with a live 12” etched vinyl E.P. of a rare audience recording of ‘Live At Plumpton Jazz & Blues Festival’ from August 1970, and with a BluRay disc featuring the original promo video of ‘Lady D’Arbanville’, plus eight live TV performances, and the HD audio of the new Mona Bone Jakon 2020 Mix. Also included is a 98-page beautifully illustrated hardcover book with extensive new sleeve notes. Finally there’s also a selection of memorabilia including Island Records press kit, two Island press photos, a replica 1970 Plumpton Jaxx and Blues flyer, a Cat Stevens tour sticker and ‘dustbin’ greetings card and pop art print in a card envelope. 

Hitting shelves that day will be 50th anniversary editions of Mona Bone Jakon and Tea For The Tillerman.  Released within 7 months in 1970, these albums saw Stevens redefining his sound.  Following a battle with tuberculosis and a lengthy stay at in the hospital, Stevens had begun looking inward, exploring literature and meditation, and reflecting on who he was as an artist.  Beginning on these two albums, he stripped away many of the production excesses of his late-’60s Deram albums in favour of a more soulful, introspective sound that would dovetail with the burgeoning singer-songwriter movement.  This metamorphosis began with Mona Bone Jakon, produced by ex-Yardbird Paul Samwell-Smith and featuring long time collaborator Alun Davies on guitar along with John Ryan on bass and Harvey Burns on drums.

The 4-CD/Blu-ray/LP 50th anniversary box set edition of Mona Bone Jakon features a new remaster of the original mix (overseen by Paul Samwell-Smith) on CD 1, a 2020 remix by David Hefti on CD 2, and on LP, unreleased demos on CD 3 (including the new single “I Want Some Sun”), and 18 live performances on CD 4.  Among the live performances are legendary television appearances on French TV, Beat Club in Germany, and two different BBC sessions.  Another highlight is a 6-song set from the Plumpton Jazz and Blues Festival in August 1970 which sees Stevens tackling songs from Mona Bone Jakon, the as-yet-released Tea For The Tillerman, and even “Changes IV,” which would appear on Teaser and the Firecat in 1971.  The Plumpton set is also featured on an etched LP in the set.  Rounding out the Mona Bone Jakon box is a Blu-ray disc featuring high-resolution audio of the 2020 mix, plus the original promotional video for “Lady D’Arbanville,” television appearances on Pop Deux and other French TV programs, as well as “Maybe You’re Right” from BBC’s In Concert series and “Lady D’Arbanville” on Beat Club.

Finally, it wouldn’t be a deluxe box set without some memorabilia.  Inside the Mona Bone Jakon box you’ll find a replica Island Records press kit, two Cat Stevens press photos, a replica flier for the 1970 Plumpton Jazz and Blues Festival, a tour sticker, greeting card, and a pop art-inspired dustbin print.

Slimmer editions of Mona Bone Jakon will also be available.  The 1-CD standard edition will feature the 2020 remaster of the original album mix housed in a book set.  A similarly presented 2-CD deluxe edition pairs this remaster with a disc of studio demos and live highlights.

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Yusuf Islam, known formally simply as “Yusuf” and formerly as Cat Stevens, has announced the forthcoming release of a re-imagined take on his 1970 super-hit studio album, “Tea for the Tillerman”.

To be appropriately titled, Tea for the Tillerman 2, the forthcoming project due out on September 18th via UMe will hear the British singer-songwriter explore the 11 songs featured on the original album in a new light, with 50 years added of life experience. Tea for the Tillerman 2 “Upends many of the familiar arrangements, while staying blessedly true to the mission of the album,” according to the original announcement.

Paul [Samwell-Smith] has got into the mode now where he knows he can criticize me, but he has been very careful about how he does it,” Yusuf said when discussing revisiting his old material. “I’ve trained Paul a little bit and he trained me because I know the kind of thing he likes so I won’t waste my time there, I’ll get straight onto it. We get on so well together. Hand in glove. It’s a perfect relationship and I love the man.”

Yusuf continued in discussing the album’s 50th anniversary arriving at such a turbulent time in the world, “When some people have lost the spiritual link to their lives, music can play an important part. So from that point of view, I think that the sentiments from the album are incredibly important to us today. It shows that there are human beings still around. That’s important.”

Yusuf has been living in Dubai since the start of the pandemic earlier this year. The British-born singer-songwriter also tells readers he’s kept busy finalizing his autobiography, which he’s also illustrating, and likely due out sometime later this year. To recapture the spirit and energy as heard in the Tea for the Tillerman sessions, Yusuf reconnected with the album’s original producer Paul Samwell-Smith for the new album, which was recorded last summer. UMe shared the first track to appear on Tea for the Tillerman 2to go with Thursday’s announcement with the updated take on “Where Do the Children Play”. Listen to the new recording on the old tune below.

50 years after the release of the original era-defining album, T4TT2 sees Yusuf reimagine the same eleven songs for a new age with dramatic results. Enjoy the brand new version of ‘Where Do The Children Play?’.

In 1971, Island Records released a double sampler album called El Pea. This compilation cost the princely sum of £1.99 and featured many fledging artists who would go on to become household names,this album was a revelation, and changed my attitude to music forever.

Island Records started out with a catalogue of Jamaican music but the charismatic founder, Chris Blackwell, soon diversified into an eclectic stable of contemporary acts. Some didn’t make it, some did, but all of them appeared on one or other of the samplers Island Records released in the early 1970s.

The appeal of the samplers was clear. Punters got a chance to hear some of the best new music at a heavily discounted price, whilst the record company got to promote music that did not readily lend itself to radio or TV airplay. Some of the compilations were classic recordings in their own right, and Island Records probably came out with the classiest.

El Pea was released in the UK in 1971, but it has an enduring appeal. This was probably the folkiest of the Island samplers, with the inevitable influence of Joe Boyd. However it had its heavier moments, a touch of prog and a little reggae to make for a heady brew. The album cover was hardly arresting and probably played too much on the pun in its name – a long-playing double LP called… El Pea,  However the slapdash artwork disguises a classic album. They couldn’t even get the track listing right – you might be pleased to see Nick Drake on the album but the track listed as “One Of These Things First”, is actually the even better, astonishing, “Northern Sky”. Another track worth the purchase price is by McDonald and Giles, previously of King Crimson fame, and the album from which the track comes is one of those forgotten gems you won’t regret checking out.

You can’t get El Pea on CD, but all of the tracks are available on subsequently released CDs. Additionally a number of compilation CDs have come out over the years to reprise the glorious days of the Island sampler.

With selections ranging from much-anticipated new albums by superstars Traffic, Free, and Cat Stevens; cult demigods Mott the Hoople and Quintessence; and a handful of names that might well have been new to the average browser: Mike Heron, slipping out of the Incredible String Band with his Smiling Men With Bad Reputations debut; Nick Drake, still laboring away in absolute obscurity; and so on.

There was also a spotlight shone on Emerson, Lake & Palmer, the so-called supergroup whose own eponymous debut was still awaited with baited breath, and the choice of the virtuoso “Knife Edge” over any of the album’s more accessible tracks further confirms El Pea’s validity. Any other label would have gone for “Lucky Man,” knowing that no one could resist its plaintive charms. “Knife Edge” let the ingenue know precisely what to expect from Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

And so it goes on — from Jethro Tull to Blodwyn Pig, from Fairport Convention to Sandy Denny, 21 tracks spread across four sides of vinyl serve up one of the most generous and alluring label samplers you will ever lay your hands on

Side A

A 1 – Traffic – Empty Pages
A2 – Sandy Denny – Late November
A3 – Alan Bown – Thru The Night
A4 – John And Beverley Martyn – Auntie Aviator
A5 – Fairport Convention – Lord Marlborough

Side B
B1 – Jethro Tull – Mother Goose
B2 – Quintessence – Dive Deep
B3 – Amazing Blondel – Spring Season
B4 – McDonald & Giles – Extract From Tomorrow’s People – The Children Of Today
B5 – Tir Na Nog – Our Love Will Not Decay
B6 – Mountain – Don’t Look Around

Side C
C1 – Free – Highway Song
C2 – Incredible String Band – Waiting For You
C3 – Cat Stevens – Wild World
C4 – Bronco – Sudden Street
C5 – Mike Heron – Feast Of Stephen

Side D
D1 – Emerson Lake & Palmer – Knife Edge
D2 – Nick Drake – Northern Sky
D3 – Mott The Hoople – Original Mixed-Up Kid
D4 – Jimmy Cliff – Can’t Stop Worrying, Can’t Stop Loving
D5 – Mick Abrahams – Greyhound Bus

cat stevens the laughing apple

The Laughing Apple brings Yusuf’s career full circle, coming 50 years after his first album the song sounds like vintage Cat Stevens; not surprisingly, he co-produced the song . It reunites him with producer Paul Samwell-Smith and guitarist Alun Davies, prominent collaborators on landmark recordings including 1970’s multi-platinum “Tea for the Tillerman”.

The Laughing Apple follows the common ’60s template of combining newly written songs with covers from Yusuf’s catalog, presenting some of his earliest material as he has always wished it had been recorded.

The most recent songs  “See What Love Did to Me,” “Olive Hill” and “Don’t Blame Them” possess the reflective insight of a spiritual seeker. Four others, including one initially intended for the 1971 film ‘Harold and Maude,’ have been updated with new sections. Additional highlights include contemporary versions of “Blackness of the Night,” “Northern Wind (Death of Billy the Kid),” “I’m So Sleepy” and the title track, songs that appeared in their original incarnations on 1967’s New Masters.

The Laughing Apple takes listeners to that little garden where the Tillerman sat under the tree, with a new illustration by Yusuf. Yusuf also has illustrated each of the album’s 11 songs in his naïve style, resembling a storybook — for those whose hearts have never grown old.