Posts Tagged Cat Stevens
Cat Stevens had several singles and three mediocre albums during his attempt to launch his career as a folk-rock singer/songwriter in the late 60s. While he garnered some attention in his native England, he found virtually no audience in the U.S. and, out of frustration, considered ending his efforts. But he had a backlog of decent material, and so decided to give it one more shot. His fourth album, Tea For Tillerman, rang the bell upon its release on November 23, 1970, reaching #8 in the U.S., #11 in Canada, #20 in the U.K. and, eventually #206 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 500 albums.
Tea For Tillerman’s push up the charts benefited from the big single “Wild World,” which was issued in advance of the album and created the buzz Stevens needed to break into the U.S. market. But the album carried its own weight beyond the single. Four songs in particular, “Father And Son,” “Longer Boats,” “Where Do The Children Play?” and “Hard Headed Woman” have become timeless favorites for Cat’s devotees and casual fans alike.
The Tremeloes (click here for today’s Vintage Video) had what it took to give The Beatles a run for their money in the mid-60s. Catchy tunes, good looks, respectably long hair, a supportive record label (Decca) and a growing legion of fans. But the recipe didn’t bake cake, and the Fab Four pasted the Tremeloes in the race to British Invasion superstardom. That left Brian Poole (lead singer and guitarist) and his bandmates to swallow their pride, which wasn’t hard to do with more than a dozen British #1’s and two Top 20 US hits. The Tremeloes broke up in 1970, just a few short years after they recorded this version of their hit cover of Cat Stevens’ “Here Comes My Baby” in 1967 for the BBC.
For a time in the early 70s, Cat Stevens was the hottest folk-rock artist on either side of the Atlantic. Born Steven Demetre Georgiou, he took the stage name Cat Stevens in the mid-60s just as he was launching his musical career on the London club scene. His run of five Top 10 albums, Tea For the Tillerman (1970), Teaser And The Firecat (1971), Catch Bull At Four (September 27, 1972), Foreigner (1973) and Buddha And The Chocolate Box (1974) garnered millions of units sold, several Top 40 hits, and awards for songwriting, particularly with the oft-covered single “The First Cut Is The Deepest,” which Stevens wrote in 1967 and received ASCAP awards for songwriter of the year in 2005 and 2006. Catch Bull At Four came at the peak of Steven’s career, following the massively popular Tea For The Tillerman and Teaser And The Firecat, which blended folk, light rock and easy listening sounds and allowed Stevens to find avid listeners on both AM and FM radio. Although it hit #1 in the U.S., Catch Bull At Four was something of a letdown after the previous two albums and signaled the beginning of the end. Stevens seemed to lose the magic and delve deeper into religious themes and harder, non-pop sounds, and the album sold well for only a short time. The last two of the five album run plus a Greatest Hits release in 1975 were all that was left. Two modest sellers, Numbers (1976) and Izitso (1977) preceded Stevens’ announcement of his conversion to Islam, a name change to Yusuf Islam, and an official retirement from public performances. He finally released a retrospective album in 1990 and two studio works in 2006 and 2009, but the glory days were gone. Cat Stevens is in the Playlist Vault on DrRock.com. Catch Bull At Four is available as a CD on Amazon and as download tracks on iTunes.