- 22 Sep 20
Singer’s breakthrough album reimagined for 50th anniversary.
Released in November 1970, Cat Stevens’ fourth album, Tea For The Tillerman, was the one that catapulted the English singer-songwriter to international fame, particularly across the Atlantic, where it went triple platinum in the US. Half a century on from its release, Yusuf/Cat Stevens has “reimagined” the 11 songs for a new age and perhaps even a new audience.
Admitting that the 11 tracks on this album “certainly defined me and pointed the way for my mysterious life’s journey”, Yusuf decided to re-unite with many of the original crew from 1970 for the new recordings, including producer Paul Samwell-Smith and Alun Davies on guitar, along with Bruce Lynch on bass, who played with Stevens in the mid-’70s, and Eric Appapoulay and Kwame Yeboah from his current live band.
The result takes the mostly gentle production of the original and adds some depth, particularly on folk standards ‘Hard Headed Woman’ and ‘Where Do The Children Play?’, while his voice sounds remarkably fresh on the beautiful ‘Sad Lisa’. ‘Wild World’ is turned from folk-rock classic to a jaunty, easy-listening affair, complete with lovely alto sax solo, although it’s a little too middle-of-the-road for its own good.
The anthemic ‘Miles From Nowhere’ starts off slowly but builds up quite a head of chugging rock steam, while the brilliant ‘Longer Boats’ morphs into a funk/gospel affair featuring rapper Brother Ali. One of the most covered songs in pop history, ‘Father And Son’ sees Yusuf’s world-weary voice duetting with his younger self, recorded at the Troubadour in LA in 1970, thanks to the wonders of technology.
The quality of these 11 tracks still shines through 50 years after they were first released, and the new arrangements add enough to make this reimagined record worthy of attention.