Cat Stevens's debut single found its way to the U.K. charts while he was still in his teens. He became an international star with 1970's TEA FOR THE TILLERMAN, which showed an evolution in his style. With his distinctive voice, memorable melodies, and sensitive, socially conscious lyrics, Stevens typified the singer-songwriter aesthetic of the early '70s. His records from that period were incredibly successful, familiar to anyone growing up at the time. Over the years, his music grew a little less accessible, and by the end of the '70s he had converted to Islam, changed his name to Yusuf Islam, and retired from pop music. A 2006 comeback album, recorded under his new name, was a lovely return to form.
*Artist: STEVENS,CAT *Genre: Popular Music *Release Date: 23-MAY-2000
Cat Stevens tends to be lumped in with the early-'70s singer-songwriter school led by James Taylor and Carole King, but he actually fits in rather neatly with such wistful English contemporaries as Nick Drake, Syd Barrett, and Donovan. Tea for the Tillerman's "Wild World," "Into White," and "Longer Boats" indicate that he may have been a more gifted tunesmith than the lot of them. As with the best of the Brit folk-rockers, Stevens mixed melancholy with whimsy. Yes, he was prone to airy platitudes, but when he harnessed his eccentricities, as he did throughout this 1970 masterwork, you had something truly distinctive. A natural cult artist, à la Tim Buckley and Leonard Cohen, Stevens connected with record-buyers to the tune of 25 million units sold before he changed his name to Yusuf Islam, established an Islamic school, and raised a ruckus by supporting Ayatollah Khomeini's death decree against author Salman Rushdie. This remastered 2000 version of the 1970 recording, which was overseen by the artist, is a vast improvement over the earlier CD reissue. --Steve Stolder
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