Cat Stevens – Saturnight (Live In Tokyo) (1974)

frontcover1This is probably one of the rarest albums Cat Stevens ever recorded:

When it comes to charity albums from the ’70s, one thinks of The Concert For Bangladesh (1971) and then The Music For UNICEF Concert: A Gift Of Song (1979). But in 1974, Cat Stevens released Saturnight (Live In Tokyo) on vinyl and only in Japan.

In 2009 sherrill50 posted the following note at the Steve Hoffman Forum: “In 1974, Cat Stevens and his band recorded a live show in Tokyo which A&M Records issued the same year on LP as ‘Saturnight’ – but ONLY in Japan. Sort of the holy grail for Cat’s fans, this has (as far as I know) never been issued on CD, anywhere. Renny pointed out (as I’d also heard) that Cat Stevens, now Yusuf Islam, had a serious dislike for the performance and, as a result, it would probably never be issued.”

catstevenslive

My love for Cat Stevens isn’t what it used to be but I still enjoy his classic albums Tea for the Tillerman and Teaser and the Firecat once in a while. Most of my favourite songs made it onto this live release in a dignified quality, in contrast to the later Majikat live album which was overstuffed with ladies’ choirs and other grotesqueries. In addition to being a not ungifted acoustic guitarist and pianist, Cat has got a warm, gentle voice that somehow reminds me of oak wood. His songs are elegant and uncomplicated, and most of you will probably have heard one of them somewhere. The best ones among them are usually a tad autumnal (Wild World, My Lady d’Arbanville) if not plain sad, like Father and Son and Oh Very Young, though sometimes also hopeful like Peace Train. Ah, the nostalgia. (by for-the-greater-good.blogspot.de)

alternatefrontcovers

Alternate frontcovers

Personnel:
Gerry Conway (drums, percussion, background vocals)
Jim Cregan (guitar)
Alun Davies (guitar, background vocals)
Bruce Lynch (bass)
Suzanne Lynch (background vocals)
Anna Peacock (background vocals)
Jean Roussel (keyboards)
Larry Steele (guitar, percussion, background vocals)
Cat Stevens (vocals, guitar, synthesizer, percussion)

originalbackcover1
Tracklist:
01. Wild World (Stevens) 3.03
02. Oh Very Young ((Stevens) 2.28
03. Sitting (Stevens) 3:14
04. Where Do the Children Play (Stevens) 3:52
05. Lady d’Arbanville (Stevens) 3:47
06. Another Saturday Night (Cooke) 2.35
07. Hard Headed Woman (Stevens) 3:54
08. Peace Train (Stevens) 3:58
09. Father And Son (Stevens) 3:41
10. King Of Trees (Stevens) 3:28
11. Bad Penny (Stevens) 3:21
12. Bitterblue (Stevens) 3:12.

labela1

*
**

Cat Stevens – Tea For The Tillerman (1970)

FrontCover1Tea for the Tillerman is the fourth studio album by the singer-songwriter Cat Stevens. This album, Stevens’ second during 1970, includes many of Stevens’ best-known songs including “Where Do the Children Play?”, “Hard Headed Woman”, “Wild World”, “Sad Lisa”, “Into White”, and “Father and Son”. Four of the tracks (“Where Do the Children Play?”, “On the Road to Find Out”, “Tea for the Tillerman”, and “Miles from Nowhere”) were featured in the Hal Ashby and Colin Higgins’ black comedy film Harold and Maude, in 1971. The track “But I Might Die Tonight” was featured in the film Deep End directed by Jerzy Skolimowski in 1970. Stevens, a former art student, created the artwork featured on the record’s cover. “Tea for the Tillerman” was also used over the end credits for the BBC TV show Extras. “Miles From Nowhere” also appeared in the A-Team episode, “Alive at Five” while Templeton Peck is running away.

With “Wild World” as an advance single, this was the album that brought Stevens worldwide fame.[citation needed] The album itself charted into the top 10 in the United States, where he had previously had few listeners.

In a contemporary review for The Village Voice, music critic Robert Christgau gave the album a “B–” and found the music monotonous and lacking the “dry delicacy” Stevens exhibited on Mona Bone Jakon (1970). Rolling Stone magazine’s Ben Gerson said that Stevens’ songs effortlessly resonate beyond their artfully simple lyrics and hooks, despite his occasional overuse of dynamics “for dramatic effect.”

On 18 November 2003, Rolling Stone included this album in its 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list at number 206.[5] In 2006, the album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[6] In 2007, the album was included in the list of “The Definitive 200 Albums of All Time”, released by The National Association of Recording Merchandisers and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.(by wikipedia)

Cat Stevens 1972

Cat Stevens, (centre, in long sleeve shirt), and his nine-man band at the Singapore airport, where he stopped over on the way to perform in Tokyo in 1972.

Mona Bone Jakon only began Cat Stevens’ comeback. Seven months later, he returned with Tea for the Tillerman, an album in the same chamber-group style, employing the same musicians and producer, but with a far more confident tone. Mona Bone Jakon had been full of references to death, but Tea for the Tillerman was not about dying; it was about living in the modern world while rejecting it in favor of spiritual fulfillment. It began with a statement of purpose, “Where Do the Children Play?,” in which Stevens questioned the value of technology and progress. “Wild World” found the singer being dumped by a girl, but making the novel suggestion that she should stay with him because she was incapable of handling things without him. “Sad Lisa” might have been about the same girl after she tried and failed to make her way; now, she seemed depressed to the point of psychosis. The rest of the album veered between two themes: the conflict between the young and the old, and religion as an answer to life’s questions. Tea for the Tillerman was the story of a young man’s search for spiritual meaning in a soulless class society he found abhorrent. He hadn’t yet reached his destination, but he was confident he was going in the right direction, traveling at his own, unhurried pace. The album’s rejection of contemporary life and its yearning for something more struck a chord with listeners in an era in which traditional verities had been shaken. It didn’t hurt, of course, that Stevens had lost none of his ability to craft a catchy pop melody; the album may have been full of angst, but it wasn’t hard to sing along to. As a result, Tea for the Tillerman became a big seller and, for the second time in four years, its creator became a pop star.(by William Ruhlmann)

BackCover

Personnel:
Harvey Burns (drums)
Alun Davies (guitar, background vocals)
John Rostein (violin)
John Ryan (bass)
Cat Stevens (guitar, keyboards, vocals

Booklet

Tracklist:
01. Where Do The Children Play? 3.51
02. Hard Headed Woman 3.47
03. Wild World 3.18
04. Sad Lisa 3.40
05. Miles From Nowhere 3.32
06. But I Might Die Tonight 1.52
07. Longer Boats 3.11
08. Into White 3.24
09. On The Road To Find Out 5.07
10. Father And Son 3.38
11. Tea For The Tillerman 1.00

All songs written by Cat Stevens

LabelB1

*
**

Mastertapes

 

Cat Stevens – Mona Bone Jakon (1970)

FrontCover1Mona Bone Jakon is the third studio album released by singer-songwriter Cat Stevens, released in April 1970 on the Island Records label in the United Kingdom and on the A&M record label in the United States and Canada.

After a meteoric start to his career, surprising even his original producer at Deram Records with the hit singles “I Love My Dog”, “Matthew and Son”, and “I’m Gonna Get Me a Gun”, Stevens’ debut album, Matthew and Son began charting as well. However, after the pressure for a repeat album of the same calibre, Stevens, considered a young teen sensation, was overwhelmed by a new lifestyle, as well as the demands of writing, recording, performing, publicity appearances, and touring. His second album was a commercial failure and In the fall of 1968, he collapsed, with the diagnosis of tuberculosis and a collapsed lung. For over a year, while recovering, Stevens virtually disappeared from the British pop scene. Mona Bone Jakon is notable not only for his return, but for the emergence of a very different artist. The album was certified gold for sales/shipments of more than 500,000 copies in the United States.

During his hospital-dictated year of bedrest, he began writing a catalogue of songs to fill far more than his next album. After his recovery, Stevens negotiated out of his contract with Deram Records and joined with former Yardbirds bassist Paul Samwell-Smith with a stripped down sound, with songs played in spare arrangements on acoustic guitars and keyboards and accompanied by a sparse backing band, consisting only of three other performers: second guitarist Alun Davies, bassist John Ryan (not to be confused with the creator of Captain Pugwash), and drummer Harvey Burns—and on one song, “Katmandu”, Peter Gabriel on the flute.

Singles

Smith also produced the album and brought Stevens a high fidelity sound that was not as present on his previous releases. Samwell-Smith was one of the early producers in rock to push the lower bass frequencies more prominently into the mix in an attempt to keep up with the new audiophile generation which was embracing larger home speakers and high end phonographic cartridges. Stevens began to make the transition from pop star to a folk-rock performer, when the term “singer-songwriter” was just being coined.

CatStevensAlunDavies

 Cat Stevens + Alun Davies

The songs themselves were darker in tone: the madrigal-inspired ballad “Lady D’Arbanville” elevated the tragedy of a lost lover (in this case, Stevens’ former girlfriend Patti D’Arbanville) to that of a deceased one; “Trouble” was a plea to stave off death. There were also lighter songs; “Pop Star” showcased Stevens’ dramatic change in voice by satirising the triviality of celebrity.

Though “Lady D’Arbanville” would reach No. 8 on the British charts, Mona Bone Jakon was only a modest success upon its initial release. The album attracted attention, however, in the wake of the commercial breakthrough of its follow-up, Tea for the Tillerman, and with the inclusion of three of its songs (“Trouble”, “I Wish, I Wish”, and “I Think I See the Light”) in Hal Ashby and Colin Higgins’s black comedy Harold and Maude in 1971.

Sleeves

The 1st issued Mona Bone Jakon album had some very rare exclusive sketches on the inside sleeve. The very first printing of the Mona Bone Jakon album came out with this sleeve on the Island issue of the album. They were never ever included after 1970 with the album (thanks to majicat.com)

According to a 1972 interview with Stevens, the inspiration for the title was a name he created to describe his penis: “‘Mona Bone Jakon’ is another name for my ‘penis’. It’s the name I give it. It’s not some sort of secret vocabulary, it’s just something I made up.”[1]

Journalist Robert Chalmers reiterated this point for a 2003 interview with Islam for The Independent on Sunday when he wrote: “When [Stevens] re-emerged in 1969, he had more than 40 new songs and released three triumphant albums in 15 months on Chris Blackwell’s Island label: Mona Bone Jakon (his pet word for penis), Tea For The Tillerman and Teaser And The Firecat.”

CatStevens01In a contemporary review for The Village Voice, music critic Robert Christgau gave Mona Bone Jakon a “B+” and said that after the commercial failure of New Masters, “this one has a nice post-creative trauma feel, intimate and sensitive. Recommended to singer/songwriter specialists.” (by wikipedia)

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.

CatStevens02

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. (by William Ruhlmann)

CatStevens04

Personnel:
Harvey Burns (drums, percussion)
Alun Davies (guitar, background vocals)
John Ryan (bass)
Cat Stevens (guitar, keyboards, vocals)
+
Peter Gabriel (flute on 08.)

BackCover
Tracklist:
01. Lady D’Arbanville  3.45
02. Maybe You’re Right 3.25
03. Pop Star 4.13
04. I Think I See The Light 3.55
05. Trouble 2.49
06. Mona Bone Jakon 1.42
07. I Wish I Wish 3.50
08. Katmandu 3.22
09. Time  1.26
10. Fill My Eyes 3.00
11. Lilywhite 3.41

Music + lyrics: Cat Stevens

LabelB1

*
**

CatStevens03

Cat Stevens + ‎Patti D’Arbanville

Cat Stevens – ABC In Concert (1973)

FrontCover1Review from the TV show in 1973:
As the first anniversary of the late night TV rockers approaches, and the news of prime time music shows also breaks, it’s equally exciting to see the first attempts at screening entire shows built around strongest pop stars. ABC-TV’s ” In Concert” has been first through the gate with “Moon and Stars,” screened November 6 in the series’ usual late night slot.

The Stevens special pointed up both the inherent strengths of such an approach, and a few of the pitfalls. Viewers were treated to a portrait of Stevens’ music of unusual depth, as Stevens moved through material from various phases of his recording career since joining A&M’s roster. The quality of the stereo-FM track for simulcast was excellent. Showcasing the possible technical heights this medium could reach, and both Stevens and a superb back-up including stalwarts Alun Davies, Jean Roussel and Gerry Conway, long time Stevens collaborators, made that aspect of the show more than just a technical triumph.

Visually, the show was also a tasteful effort, free from the surplus of quick cutting and “action” slots that have often plagued rock on television and proved distracting rather than compelling. The current addiction to star filters – that turn points of light on the image into prismatic flares – was probably the only flaw here, being rather overused.

Yet, the show itself hit many lulls, despite some strong changes of pace provided by Linda Rondstadt and Dr. John. Each performing a Stevens’ composition, and by one of the show’s highlights, an excellent animated version of Stevens’ drawings of Teaser and the Firecat riding an moonshadow (and naturally framed by that song). The shows flow was broken by the necessary flurry of commercial breaks. Late night shows have long been plagued by those breaks, but here it was the sheer frequency that proved the problem.

Stevens is a dark and quiet personality and the show was virtually without any spoken comment. While small screen addicts might have been disappointed by the lack of chatter, it was a refreshing departure from the usual inanity of forced conversations that are often included to provide humor or personality. There may well be artists who in such a special could talk to us as well; Stevens seemed more comfortable just singing and it helped give the show a more natural feel.

Cat Stevens 2Cat Stevens broke a guitar string in the middle of a song and the jam-packed audience at the In Concert Songbook Aquarius Theater in Hollywood applauded the full 55 seconds it took him to replace it. And when the British superstar politely asked director Joshua White if he could do one song over again for the cameras, the audience went wild.

That’s how eager the hundreds of Cat Stevens fans were to groove on his music.

The memorable occasion was the taping of the “In Concert” segment starring Cat Stevens, on the ABC Television Network’s “ABC Wide World of Entertainment.” The show marks Stevens’ American television debut and is his first American appearance in a year.

His powerful performance put to rest rumors that the 25-year old star’s absence from the stage was due to a recurrence of the respiratory ailment that hospitalized him several years ago.

It was the inevitable conflict between art and commercialism that eventually took its toll on the young singer-composer, who was born Steve Georgiou. Following instant stardom at the age of 17, came the unending TV interviews, recording sessions, performance dates, tension, hassling and bad feelings.

Recalling those turbulent days, Stevens says, “I used to dread recording. For days I’d worry and think about that studio, full of blank, uncaring, bored session men who were going to play my music.

“And every time, in would go my music and out would come their music — technically perfect and perfectly antiseptic. It was my music and they would kill me with it.”

During his convalescence Stevens came to grips with the problem that so often plagues creative artists.

“Once you’re a success it becomes very difficult to judge things; people love anything you do,” he says. “But it’s important for me to try new things, different things, even if they fail.”

When Stevens left the hospital and returned to a recording studio he was assured complete artistic integrity. He came out with “Mona Bone Jakon” (1969), an album that swept across Europe and rose into the Top Ten in France. He played to sellout crowds in Holland and Germany, and did a national television concert in Paris.

This year, Stevens recorded “Foreigner,” the first album on which he is also producer, and the LP is currently rising to the top of the charts. It features “Foreigner Suite,” an 18-minute tour de force he performs on “In Concert.”

Recorded live at the Aquarius Theather, Hollywood, California, November 1973
for the ABC In Concert series

ConcertPoster

Personnel:
Gerry Conway (drums)
Alun Davies (guitar)
Danny Kortchmar (guitar)
Bruce Lynch (bass)
Bernard Pretty Purdie (drums)
Jean Roussel (keyboards)
Cat Stevens (guitar, vocals, piano)
+
Dr. John (vocals on 06.)
Linda Ronstadt (vocals on 09. + 10.)
+
Suzanne Lynch (background vocals)
Anna Peacock (background vocals)
+
unknown orchestra

AlternateFrontCovers
Alternate frontcovers

Tracklist:
01. Father and Son (Stevens) 4.02
02. Wild World (Stevens) 3.25
03. Morning Has Broken (Traditional) 3.20
04. 18th Avenue (Stevens) 4.34
05. Moonshadow w/Story (Stevens) 5.28
06. Pop Star (Stevens) 6.00
07. King Of Trees (Stevens) 4.07
08. A Bad Penny (Stevens) 3.53
09. Fill My Eyes (Stevens) 3.05
10. The First Cut Is The Deepest (Stevens) 2.56
11. The Boy With The Moon and Star On His Head (Stevens) 6.16
12. The Hurt (Stevens)  4.45
13. Foreigner Suite (Stevens) 20.15

Cat Stevens1*
**