Wednesday, May 23, 2012

206 Tea for the Tillerman- The Cat's miaow

Album: Tea for the Tillerman
Artist: Cat Stevens
Genre: Foik
Year: 1970


  1. Where Do the Children Play?
  2. Hard Headed Woman
  3. Wild World
  4. Sad Lisa
  5. Miles from Nowhere
  6. But I Might Die Tonight
  7. Longer Boats
  8. Into White
  9. On the Road to Find Out
  10. Father and Son
  11. Tea for the Tillerman

Some people can write pretty songs but can't sing them for nuts. It doesn't matter which variety of nut you offer them they just don't have the voice to do their composition justice. Other artists have voices given to them by the angels but can't write tunes for toffee. You can spend hours perfecting the most delicious toffee imaginable but there's no way it's going to suddenly turn Art Garfunkle into a songwriter. People who can munch happily on toffee-coated peanuts secure in the knowledge that they can write a great song and then do it justice are few and far between.

Cat Stevens (or Steven Georgiou to give him his birth name, or Yusuf Islam to give him his most recent name) has a really good voice. The guy can sing and sounds really good when he does. And he could not only put together some notes in tune he could write a catchy song as well. There are a handful of Cat's songs which are staples on Easy Listening radio and provide the soundtrack to the visible aging process of octogenarians all over the planet. Many a new wrinkle has appeared while Moon Shadow plays on a wireless in the background.

Tea for the Tillerman's most popular song is actually better known by someone other than Cat. The first person to release Wild World as a single was Jamaican singer Jimmy Cliff, whose reggae infused version became the standard arrangement. It's become known more in its reggae incarnation now and many are surprised to learn it originated from the same voice that gave us the definitive version of Moon Shadow.

Cat Stevens' career suffered when he converted to Islam and Al Qaida converted Islam into the most hated religion in the US. But it's worth revisiting his finest album. His music might not be as inspirational as his contemporaries or as courageous but there's no doubt he has an incredible voice that deserves to be liberated from the clutches of easy listening radio.

Highlight: Wild World
Lowlight: Into White

Influenced by: Bob Dylan
Influenced: Belle and Sebastian

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Cat Stevens / Tea for the Tillerman: This is a brilliant album and one I treasured. Now that Yusuf Islam has killed off Cat Stevens, I encourage you to buy a used version of this CD and deny Yusuf any profits from the sale."

-That's a very sad attitude to take.

So are you a cat person or not? Let me know below.

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