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Pop - Released January 1, 2012 | Universal Music Group International

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Folk/Americana - Released September 18, 2020 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Cat Stevens has returned and he’s serving more tea. Tea For The Tillerman 2 is, as the name suggests, the second version of his 1970 folk-rock classic, Tea For The Tillerman. The album was a bit of a hangover from the sixties. All the teenagers would spend their times up in their rooms trying to decipher the notes and play the songs on acoustic guitar as they flowed one after another in a river of instrumental elegance and profound disenchantment. It was a philosophical and politically charged album, a way of announcing that he was turning his back on the modern world in a quest for spirituality. A few years later Stevens converted to Islam, adopted the name Yusuf Islam and distanced himself from the world of pop music for almost 30 years. He returned to pop in the mid-2000s and is now celebrating the anniversary of his album, as Tea For The Tillerman is now 50 years old. And Cat Stevens is 72. Rather than re-release this old classic with some slight embellishments, the singer has given himself a makeover and re-recorded the whole thing. Joined by his guitarist and producer from the time as well as a handful of new musicians, Cat Yusuf recaptures the subtle and care-free sweetness of the original version but adds fullness and a slight punch that it sometimes lacked. The new versions are, at times, rather similar to the original versions (with the same string and choir arrangements), and at other times nothing like them (like on Longer Boats featuring rapper Brother Ali with its funky bridge), but their essence remains the same and they are certainly recognisable. Above all, Cat Stevens sings better than ever before – his voice hasn’t aged, and it’s no longer cast in the shadow of Bob Dylan as it was on the 1970 version of Tea For The Tillerman. © Stéphane Deschamps/Qobuz
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Folk/Americana - Released September 18, 2020 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Cat Stevens has returned and he’s serving more tea. Tea For The Tillerman 2 is, as the name suggests, the second version of his 1970 folk-rock classic, Tea For The Tillerman. The album was a bit of a hangover from the sixties. All the teenagers would spend their times up in their rooms trying to decipher the notes and play the songs on acoustic guitar as they flowed one after another in a river of instrumental elegance and profound disenchantment. It was a philosophical and politically charged album, a way of announcing that he was turning his back on the modern world in a quest for spirituality. A few years later Stevens converted to Islam, adopted the name Yusuf Islam and distanced himself from the world of pop music for almost 30 years. He returned to pop in the mid-2000s and is now celebrating the anniversary of his album, as Tea For The Tillerman is now 50 years old. And Cat Stevens is 72. Rather than re-release this old classic with some slight embellishments, the singer has given himself a makeover and re-recorded the whole thing. Joined by his guitarist and producer from the time as well as a handful of new musicians, Cat Yusuf recaptures the subtle and care-free sweetness of the original version but adds fullness and a slight punch that it sometimes lacked. The new versions are, at times, rather similar to the original versions (with the same string and choir arrangements), and at other times nothing like them (like on Longer Boats featuring rapper Brother Ali with its funky bridge), but their essence remains the same and they are certainly recognisable. Above all, Cat Stevens sings better than ever before – his voice hasn’t aged, and it’s no longer cast in the shadow of Bob Dylan as it was on the 1970 version of Tea For The Tillerman. © Stéphane Deschamps/Qobuz
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Pop - Released January 1, 1971 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Even as a serious-minded singer/songwriter, Cat Stevens never stopped being a pop singer at heart, and with Teaser and the Firecat he reconciled his philosophical interests with his pop instincts. Basically, Teaser's songs came in two modes: gentle ballads that usually found Stevens and second guitarist Alun Davies playing delicate lines over sensitive love lyrics, and up-tempo numbers on which the guitarists strummed away and thundering drums played in stop-start rhythms. There were also more exotic styles, such as the Greek-styled "Rubylove," with its twin bouzoukis and a verse sung in Greek, and "Tuesday's Dead," with its Caribbean feel. Stevens seemed to have worked out some of his big questions, to the point of wanting to proselytize on songs like "Changes IV" and "Peace Train," both stirring tunes in which he urged social and spiritual improvement. Meanwhile, his love songs had become simpler and more plaintive. And while there had always been a charming, childlike quality to some of his lyrics, there were songs here that worked as nursery rhymes, and these were among the album's most memorable tracks and its biggest hits: "Moonshadow" and "Morning Has Broken," the latter adapted from a hymn with words by English author Eleanor Farjeon. The overall result was an album that was musically more interesting than ever, but lyrically dumbed-down. Stevens continued to look for satisfaction in romance, despite its disappointment, but he found more fulfillment in a still-unspecified religious pursuit that he was ready to tout to others. And they were at least nominally ready to listen: the album produced three hit singles and just missed topping the charts. Tea for the Tillerman may have been the more impressive effort, but Teaser and the Firecat was the Cat Stevens album that gave more surface pleasures to more people, which in pop music is the name of the game. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2008 | Universal Music Group International

Even as a serious-minded singer/songwriter, Cat Stevens never stopped being a pop singer at heart, and with Teaser and the Firecat he reconciled his philosophical interests with his pop instincts. Basically, Teaser's songs came in two modes: gentle ballads that usually found Stevens and second guitarist Alun Davies playing delicate lines over sensitive love lyrics, and up-tempo numbers on which the guitarists strummed away and thundering drums played in stop-start rhythms. There were also more exotic styles, such as the Greek-styled "Rubylove," with its twin bouzoukis and a verse sung in Greek, and "Tuesday's Dead," with its Caribbean feel. Stevens seemed to have worked out some of his big questions, to the point of wanting to proselytize on songs like "Changes IV" and "Peace Train," both stirring tunes in which he urged social and spiritual improvement. Meanwhile, his love songs had become simpler and more plaintive. And while there had always been a charming, childlike quality to some of his lyrics, there were songs here that worked as nursery rhymes, and these were among the album's most memorable tracks and its biggest hits: "Moonshadow" and "Morning Has Broken," the latter adapted from a hymn with words by English author Eleanor Farjeon. The overall result was an album that was musically more interesting than ever, but lyrically dumbed-down. Stevens continued to look for satisfaction in romance, despite its disappointment, but he found more fulfillment in a still-unspecified religious pursuit that he was ready to tout to others. And they were at least nominally ready to listen: the album produced three hit singles and just missed topping the charts. Tea for the Tillerman may have been the more impressive effort, but Teaser and the Firecat was the Cat Stevens album that gave more surface pleasures to more people, which in pop music is the name of the game. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released September 15, 2017 | Decca (UMO)

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With a voice barely affected by the passing of time, Steven Demetre Georgiou a.k.a. Cat Stevens a.k.a. Yusuf Islam remains a true master of folk. Celebrating a career that spans half a century, he releases an album combining original compositions and reinterpretations of some of his most famous songs. With the help of his old accomplice and producer Paul Samwell-Smith (he was already involved in Mona Bone Jakon and Tea For The Tillerman in 1970!), his oh so personal and unique sound that made him so successful finds a new light. In Laughing Apple, Yusuf evokes his travels and shares the teachings of a life well lived with those who weren’t yet born when he started out. © CM/Qobuz
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Pop - Released January 1, 2007 | Universal Music Group International

On the Road to Find Out is the first multi-volume package to comprehensively examine the artistry of singer/songwriter Cat Stevens (aka Yusuf Islam). In addition to the obligatory hits, this collection also includes key album tracks, as well as 17 sides that make their digital debut here. The set is broken into four segments/discs with straightforward subtitles, each of which uncovers a specific era in the development of not only the artist, but of the person. The journey begins in The City and consists mostly of material from the first two Cat Stevens albums: Matthew & Son and New Masters. Notable inclusions are the debut album's title track as well as "The First Cut Is the Deepest" and "I Love My Dog." One very welcome addition is "Honey Man" -- a collaborative effort featuring Elton John -- which is being issued here for the very first time. Cat Stevens' stint with Island/A&M Records commences on The Search. The real breakthrough albums -- Tea for the Tillerman and Teaser and the Firecat -- are represented by tracks such as "Sad Lisa" and the achingly tender "How Can I Tell You," as well as the anticipated hits "Wild World" and "Peace Train." Of note to collectors will be "If You Want to Sing out Sing Out" and "Don't Be Shy" from the motion picture Harold and Maude, as well as previously unreleased demos for "The Joke," "Time/Fill My Eyes," "Love Lives in the Sky," and "The Day They Make Me Czar." The Hurt includes tracks from Catch Bull at Four, Foreigner, and Buddha and the Chocolate Box. Among the rarities from this era are "Crab Dance" -- a 45 B-side to "Sitting" -- as well as "Bad Penny" and "Lady D'arbanville" from the Japan-only live release Saturnight (Live in Tokyo). The final entry, aptly titled The Last, recalls a few significant contributions from Numbers, Izitso, and Back to Earth, as well three rare live tracks: "Hard Headed Woman," "Tuesday's Dead," and "Ruins" from a live show February 22, 1976, at William and Mary College on the Majikat Earth Tour. This version of "Father and Son" has added significance, as it would be the final live performance that Yusuf Islam would make as Cat Stevens. Ironically, the final song on the album is the title track from Islam's 1997 release, God Is the Light. The packaging is lavish and includes a 96-page liner notes booklet abounding with rare photos as well as essays and a track-by-track analysis from Islam himself. The discs are packaged in separate cardboard digi-packs. The sound is spectacular throughout, with the most noticeable improvement on the Matthew & Son and New Masters sides. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1972 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Catch Bull at Four began with a statement of purpose, "Sitting," in which Cat Stevens tried to talk himself into believing that he hadn't stalled, beginning to worry that he might be falling behind schedule or even going in circles. It may be that Stevens' recent experiences had contributed to his sense that he was running out of time. Though he was never a directly confessional writer, one got the sense that his disaffection with the life of a pop star was reasserting itself. And while he was touring unhappily around the world, the world was still going to hell in a handbasket. Yet Stevens was still motivated by his urge to help mankind mend its ways. Love provided some comfort, but for the most part, the singer who had seemed so excited on his last album now sounded apprehensive. Stevens set his reflections to a mixture of musical styles that included traces of old English folk songs, madrigals, and Greek folk music along with more typical rock stylings, all performed with the stop-and-start rhythms that added drama to his performances. Nevertheless, Catch Bull at Four was a more difficult listen than its three predecessors. Coming off the momentum of Teaser and the Firecat, it roared up the charts to number one, but stayed in the Top Ten fewer weeks than its predecessor. Fans who had been stirred by Stevens' rhythmic tunes and charmed by his thoughtful lyrics were starting to lose interest in his quasi-religious yearnings, busy arrangements, and self-absorbed, melodramatic singing. His career still had a ways to go, but as of Catch Bull at Four, he had passed his peak. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released December 3, 1978 | Cat-O-Log Records

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Pop - Released January 1, 1975 | A&M

Like many of his peers, Cat Stevens made records that were identified by strong, memorable hit singles, but make no mistake: he made albums that were cohesive works onto themselves. For that reason, the very idea of a Cat Stevens greatest-hits collection may be troublesome to some fans, since they will only notice the missing album tracks, but Greatest Hits does its job exceptionally well. With the exception of "The Hurt," all of his hits from the early '70s -- "Wild World," "Moon Shadow," "Peace Train," "Morning Has Broken," "Sitting," "Oh Very Young," "Another Saturday Night," "Ready," and "Two Fine People" -- are here, along with three other fine album tracks. In short, it is everything that casual fans need -- and even fans that find a favorite or two missing will be hard-pressed to deny that this is a solid introduction and a great listen. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1988 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Cat Stevens' Matthew & Son was among the handful of releases that introduced Decca Records' "offbeat"-oriented (but ultimately largely psychedelic/progressive) Deram label in England. Actually, Stevens' "I Love My Dog" launched the label in fine style by climbing to number 27 on the U.K. charts, and its follow-up, "Matthew & Son," hit number two, resulting in the release of the original album of the same name. The latter was not only a fine account of Stevens' early folk-influenced pop/rock sound, but was also a beautiful, candid audio "snapshot" of one side of Swinging London's musical ambience in late 1966 and early 1967. It melds tinkling harpsichords ("Matthew & Son") and moderately ambitious orchestrations (mostly horns and strings) on some songs ("I Love My Dog") with folky acoustic guitar on others ("Portabello Road"), a lot of it carrying highly expressive, weirdly personal lyrics. Though it was like pulling teeth to get some of those early records out from Decca, this album sounds today like the record that should have accompanied the American version of the Beatles' Rubber Soul onto millions of turntables. It's very distant from the sound that Stevens was ultimately known for, and in many ways, it's more dated than what he did for Island/A&M, but it's much more self-consciously accessible, arranged in different styles, ranging from vaudeville-style band accompaniment ("I See a Road") to trippy Donovan-esque ballads ("Baby Get Your Head Screwed On," "When I Speak to the Flowers," "Hummingbird"). Some of it, such as the sax-driven "Come on and Dance," is a little awkward as efforts at a soul sound, but all of it is fun, even the slightly too Engelbert Humperdinck-esque "Lady." © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1974 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

While Foreigner was Cat Stevens' fifth consecutive gold album and his fourth straight Top Ten hit, it actually marked a small drop commercially and encountered critical resistance for the lengthy suite that took up all of side one. Eight months later, Buddha and the Chocolate Box found Stevens back in England and back with producer Paul Samwell-Smith and second guitarist Alun Davies. It also marked a return to the simpler style of earlier albums. No song ran much over five minutes, the arrangements were sparer and featured more acoustic guitar, and the lyrics did not take off into discursive ruminations about the state of the universe. It was very much as if Stevens was deliberately trying to make an album like Teaser and the Firecat, his commercial and artistic apex. Having begun the album with an ode to "Music" and its potential for reforming the world, he ended with "Home in the Sky," in which he sang, "Music is a lady that I still love." Such statements of renewed commitment added to the sense that the album was consciously crafted as an attempted second wind for the singer, who had been recording and performing at a torrid pace since returning to the music business full-time four years before. But that was not to say that he had abandoned the spiritual nature of his creative quest, and the songs were, as usual, littered with religious imagery. Stevens' fans responded warmly to Buddha and the Chocolate Box's stylistic return to form. "Oh Very Young" became his first Top Ten hit in two years, and the album was held out of number one only by The Sting. The album's tone, however, suggested that Stevens was once again wearying of being a pop star, even as he delivered a record that maintained that status. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released November 14, 2006 | Cat-O-Log Records

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Rock - Released May 22, 1977 | Cat-O-Log Records

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Pop - Released April 24, 1970 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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 Yardbird 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. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released April 24, 1970 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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 Yardbird 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. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released April 24, 1970 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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 Yardbird 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. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2007 | A&M

If all you are looking for is a Cat Stevens best-of, and need only a little in your collection -- there are people for whom greatest-hits comps make up the majority of their CD shelves -- then this might be for you. There are 12 cuts here, ranging from some of the earliest recognized Stevens records like Tea for the Tillerman and Mona Bone Jakon as well as the multi-platinum Teaser and the Firecat -- right, "Wild World," "The Wind," and "Peace Train" are all here -- to some of his later hits like the criminally underrated "Sitting" and "First Cut Is the Deepest" that made Yusuf Islam a lot of money. His cover of "Morning Has Broken" is here, as is "Hard Headed Woman," "Father and Son," and "Moonshadow." So this is very representative of the artist while night digging deeply into his development. The price is right and the sound is fine if not truly remastered; it's a little thin but most won't notice. If you are looking for something that goes a little deeper, try the Cat Stevens Box Set. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2014 | Universal Music Group International

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Pop - Released January 1, 1973 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Between 1970 and 1972, Cat Stevens recorded four albums in the same manner, using the same producer and many of the same musicians, painting the album covers, and assigning the records ponderous titles. Things changed with his next album, Foreigner. The recording itself had been produced by Stevens, and while a couple of Stevens' usual backup musicians had been retained, New York session musicians appeared, and second guitarist Alun Davies was gone. With him went the acoustic guitar interplay that had been the core of Stevens' sound, replaced by more elaborate keyboard-based arrangements complete with strings, brass, and a female vocal trio featuring Patti Austin. It's easy to look at the 18-plus minute "Foreigner Suite" that took up the first side and accuse Stevens of excess and indulgence. What should be kept in mind, however, is that his peers in 1973 were acts like Jethro Tull and Yes, who in turn were taking their cue from the Beatles' Abbey Road and the Who's Tommy. Call Foreigner ambitious, then, rather than indulgent. Actually, the suite is full of compelling melodic sections and typically emotive singing that could have made for an album side's worth of terrific four-minute Cat Stevens songs, if only he had composed them that way. As it is, the suite is a collection of tantalizing fragments. But the album's second side, featuring the Top 40 hit "The Hurt," demonstrates that, even in the four-minute range, his songwriting and arranging were becoming overly busy. On the whole, Foreigner marked a slight fall-off in quality from Catch Bull at Four, which itself had marked a slight fall-off from Teaser and the Firecat. The decline seemed more extreme, though, because Foreigner clearly was intended to be better than its predecessors. That's the risk of ambition. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo