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Cat Stevens|Teaser And The Firecat (Deluxe)

Teaser And The Firecat (Deluxe)

Cat Stevens

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Before he converted to Islam, auctioned off all his guitars for charity, and left the secular music business for nearly three decades, London-born Steven Demetre Georgiou, better known as Cat Stevens (now Yusuf), was an extraordinarily gifted singer-songwriter whose fourth album, 1970's Tea for the Tillerman, which contained the hit singles "Where Do the Children Play?" and "Wild World," broke him into the international music scene. As beloved as that record immediately became, Stevens then surpassed it a year later with his masterpiece, Teaser and the Firecat, one of the most hallowed and iconic albums of the 1970s.

Wrapped in the same kind of childlike cover art by Stevens as its predecessor, and full of short, sweet originals, Teaser and the Firecat benefited from an overall attitude of hopefulness and a pair of heartfelt singsongy near-lullabies—"Morning Has Broken" (with Rick Wakeman of Yes on piano) and the immortal "Moonshadow." Producer Paul Samwell-Smith's (former bassist for The Yardbirds) relationship with Stevens, which included producing Stevens' soundtrack for the 1971 film Harold and Maude, seems to have focused both men and their musical approaches. Blessed with a deceptively forcible, and very demonstrative singing voice—and unlike a lot of singer-songwriters, genuine skills on the acoustic guitar—Stevens was supported by fellow acoustic guitarist Alun Davies, bassist Larry Steele and drummers Harvey Burns and Gerry Conway.

One of the few albums in the history of pop music that lacks a lesser song, Teaser opens with "The Wind" (effectively used in Wes Anderson's film, Rushmore), then "Rubylove" with its almost gypsy-like beat, and the exquisitely sad love song, "If I Laugh." He closes with an equally strong trio of the upbeat "Bitterblue," the pop immortal "Moonshadow" and his sincere wish, "Peace Train." Remastered for its 50th anniversary, this version sounds beautifully crisp and detailed. As is the current tradition of exhaustive box set reissues of '70s music, the idea here is to cover the creative expanse of Teaser from demos through the original release to subsequent live performances. The 17 studio demos and rehearsal recordings are proof that Stevens had both the arrangements and the phrasing even in the skeletal versions.

The new re-recorded version of "Bitterblue'' trades the urgent, tight arrangement and driving drums of the original for a strummier, more ethereal reading that submerges the wonderful melody and adds nothing. It's evidence that revisiting 50-year-old material is in most cases, a very bad idea. The wondrous mass of live tracks and audio from television performances from the time of Teaser's release, including five live performances at Montreux and six BBC recordings ("Moonshadow" is presented in four versions) are not wildly different from the released versions though they do allow Stevens room to expand and adorn his vocals. Fortunately, this extra material—which also includes tracks like "Wild World"—is in sonically acceptable condition, and the different room sounds can be fascinating, though the Montreux recordings are a bit flat and thin. A banquet for fans of Stevens or this album in particular, this exhaustive reissue brings fresh perspective and insights into one of the '70s most beloved classics. © Robert Baird/Qobuz

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Teaser And The Firecat (Deluxe)

Cat Stevens

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1
The Wind (Remastered 2021)
00:01:42

Paul Samwell-Smith, Producer - Cat Stevens, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2021 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

2
Rubylove (Remastered 2021)
00:02:35

Paul Samwell-Smith, Producer - Cat Stevens, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2021 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

3
If I Laugh (Remastered 2021)
00:03:19

Paul Samwell-Smith, Producer - Cat Stevens, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2021 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

4
Changes IV (Remastered 2021)
00:03:30

Paul Samwell-Smith, Producer - Cat Stevens, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2021 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

5
How Can I Tell You (Remastered 2021)
00:04:25

Paul Samwell-Smith, Producer - Cat Stevens, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2021 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

6
Tuesday's Dead (Remastered 2021)
00:03:35

Paul Samwell-Smith, Producer - Cat Stevens, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2021 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

7
Morning Has Broken (Remastered 2021)
00:03:19

Paul Samwell-Smith, Producer - Eleanor Farjeon, ComposerLyricist - Cat Stevens, Arranger, Work Arranger, MainArtist

℗ 2021 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

8
Bitterblue (Remastered 2021)
00:03:09

Paul Samwell-Smith, Producer - Cat Stevens, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2021 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

9
Moonshadow (Remastered 2021)
00:02:47

Paul Samwell-Smith, Producer - Cat Stevens, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2021 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

10
Peace Train (Remastered 2021)
00:04:11

Paul Samwell-Smith, Producer - Cat Stevens, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2021 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

DISC 2

1
The Wind (Dubville Sessions 2020)
00:01:41

Paul Samwell-Smith, Producer - Cat Stevens, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2021 Cat-O-Log Records

2
Rubylove (Demo Version)
00:02:49

Paul Samwell-Smith, Producer - Cat Stevens, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2008 Yusuf Islam

3
If I Laugh (Demo Version)
00:04:01

Paul Samwell-Smith, Producer - Cat Stevens, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2008 Yusuf Islam

4
Changes IV (Demo Version)
00:03:32

Paul Samwell-Smith, Producer - Cat Stevens, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2008 Yusuf Islam

5
How Can I Tell You (Demo Version)
00:03:57

Paul Samwell-Smith, Producer - Cat Stevens, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2008 Yusuf Islam

6
Tuesday's Dead (Studio Demo)
00:03:29

Paul Samwell-Smith, Producer - Cat Stevens, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2021 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

7
Morning Has Broken (Basing Street Rehearsal, 1975)
00:03:05

Paul Samwell-Smith, Producer - Eleanor Farjeon, ComposerLyricist - Cat Stevens, Arranger, Work Arranger, MainArtist

℗ 2021 Cat-O-Log Records

8
Bitterblue² (Reimagined 2021)
00:02:54

Paul Samwell-Smith, Producer - Cat Stevens, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2021 Cat-O-Log Records

9
Moonshadow (Olympic Studio Demo / 1970)
00:02:29

Paul Samwell-Smith, Producer - Cat Stevens, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2021 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

10
Peace Train (Extended String Mix / 1971)
00:04:21

Paul Samwell-Smith, Producer - Cat Stevens, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2021 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

11
The Day They Make Me Tsar (Demo Version)
00:02:34

Paul Samwell-Smith, Producer - Cat Stevens, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Tony Clarke, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2001 Universal Island Records Ltd. A Universal Music Company.

12
Fisherman Song (Studio Demo)
00:02:21

Paul Samwell-Smith, Producer - Cat Stevens, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2021 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

13
I Want To Live In A Wigwam
00:03:23

Paul Samwell-Smith, Producer - Cat Stevens, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1971 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

Album Description

Before he converted to Islam, auctioned off all his guitars for charity, and left the secular music business for nearly three decades, London-born Steven Demetre Georgiou, better known as Cat Stevens (now Yusuf), was an extraordinarily gifted singer-songwriter whose fourth album, 1970's Tea for the Tillerman, which contained the hit singles "Where Do the Children Play?" and "Wild World," broke him into the international music scene. As beloved as that record immediately became, Stevens then surpassed it a year later with his masterpiece, Teaser and the Firecat, one of the most hallowed and iconic albums of the 1970s.

Wrapped in the same kind of childlike cover art by Stevens as its predecessor, and full of short, sweet originals, Teaser and the Firecat benefited from an overall attitude of hopefulness and a pair of heartfelt singsongy near-lullabies—"Morning Has Broken" (with Rick Wakeman of Yes on piano) and the immortal "Moonshadow." Producer Paul Samwell-Smith's (former bassist for The Yardbirds) relationship with Stevens, which included producing Stevens' soundtrack for the 1971 film Harold and Maude, seems to have focused both men and their musical approaches. Blessed with a deceptively forcible, and very demonstrative singing voice—and unlike a lot of singer-songwriters, genuine skills on the acoustic guitar—Stevens was supported by fellow acoustic guitarist Alun Davies, bassist Larry Steele and drummers Harvey Burns and Gerry Conway.

One of the few albums in the history of pop music that lacks a lesser song, Teaser opens with "The Wind" (effectively used in Wes Anderson's film, Rushmore), then "Rubylove" with its almost gypsy-like beat, and the exquisitely sad love song, "If I Laugh." He closes with an equally strong trio of the upbeat "Bitterblue," the pop immortal "Moonshadow" and his sincere wish, "Peace Train." Remastered for its 50th anniversary, this version sounds beautifully crisp and detailed. As is the current tradition of exhaustive box set reissues of '70s music, the idea here is to cover the creative expanse of Teaser from demos through the original release to subsequent live performances. The 17 studio demos and rehearsal recordings are proof that Stevens had both the arrangements and the phrasing even in the skeletal versions.

The new re-recorded version of "Bitterblue'' trades the urgent, tight arrangement and driving drums of the original for a strummier, more ethereal reading that submerges the wonderful melody and adds nothing. It's evidence that revisiting 50-year-old material is in most cases, a very bad idea. The wondrous mass of live tracks and audio from television performances from the time of Teaser's release, including five live performances at Montreux and six BBC recordings ("Moonshadow" is presented in four versions) are not wildly different from the released versions though they do allow Stevens room to expand and adorn his vocals. Fortunately, this extra material—which also includes tracks like "Wild World"—is in sonically acceptable condition, and the different room sounds can be fascinating, though the Montreux recordings are a bit flat and thin. A banquet for fans of Stevens or this album in particular, this exhaustive reissue brings fresh perspective and insights into one of the '70s most beloved classics. © Robert Baird/Qobuz

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