18/2/15 – Cat Stevens – Lady D’Arbanville – 1970

cat-stevens-mona-bone-jakon-backOn the subject of cats in 1970, here’s Cat Stevens and Alun Davies singing the hit Lady D’Arbanville. The song was written about Stevens’ girlfriend Patti D’Arbanville who was a Warhol film star and model. After leaving for a trip to New York Stevens wrote the song associating her absence with her death. Despite its maudlin subejct matter the song reached No.8 in the UK chart and re-established Stevens career.

Stevens had three hit singles on his first album for Decca – I love My Dog, Matthew And Son and I’m Gonna Get Me A Gun all performing well, Matthew And Son reaching No.2 in the UK chart. The next album New Masters was a commercial failure (despite containing The First Cut Is The Deepest) and after a time of illness and contemplation, Stevens negotiated his way out of his Decca contract, signing with Island records and hooking up with Paul Samwell-Smith of Yardbirds fame. The result was the stripped down folkier Mona Bone Jakon (Stevens’ pet name for his penis – believe it or not). Samwell-Smith brought in guitarist Alun Davies for his finger picking style and the two musicians became firm friends with Davies playing on every record that Stevens made except one (Foreigner) but that’s another story.

Davies had played with Jon Mark in Sweet Thursday and with their breaking up Mark went on to form Mark-Almond and Davies became a session musician. He played on Ronnie Lane’s See Me album and Murray Head’s 1977 hit, Say It Ain’t So as well as Kate and Anna McGarrigle’s French Record. Davies made a solo album, Daydo in 1972 but committed himself to his friend up till Stevens’ conversion to Islam in 1977. (On his return to performance Davies has continued to play with Yusuf Islam as he is now known).

Mona Bone Jakon didn’t perform as well as expected only reaching No.63 in the UK chart and No.164 in the US but sold well in the wake of Stevens’ next run of albums that also included Davies – Tea For the Tillerman, Teaser And The Firecat and Catch Bull At Four.

Mona Bone Jakon’s other claim to fame was the inclusion of three songs – Trouble, I Wish, I Wish and I Think I See the Light, in the cult classic Harold And Maude released in December 1971 and starring Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon.

For a period in the early seventies Cat Stevens was a musical force, deep and meaningful with a profound sincerity that would lead him to abandon his musical career for religion.