It might be hard to separate the aftermath of Cat Stevens conversion to Islam from his earlier triumphs as a talented singer and songwriter but he always denied that he supported the fatwa on Salman Rushdie and was misrepresented by the media. When you listen to this BBC concert from 1971 you are taken by the irresistible timbre of his voice and the sentiments of his songs, it’s all that’s good about humanity.
Stevens left the music business to concentrate on philanthropic causes, before it all spiralled out of control. I am sure that he is aware that our greatest gift is our freedom to say and think what we like and allow others the same. Who said what and who believes this or that, pale next to the wonder of the music, there’s something timeless and magical about the songs, there’s something about the sound, (his most successful albums produced by ex Yardbird, Paul-Samwell- Smith) the warmth, the simplicity, the artwork, one extreme to the other in its naïveté or its cosmic or environmental presentation – and those album titles, Tea For The Tillerman, Teaser and The Firecat, Catch Bull at Four, Buddha And The Chocolate Box – one weeps at the sincerity of it all.
Born to a Greek father and a Swedish mother, Steven Demetre Georgiou has journeyed deeply inside himself, from his birth name to Cat Stevens and then to Yusuf Islam. Musically he has travelled from sixties pop to simple yet profound songs of love and peace and explored cosmic concept albums before retiring and turning his back on music for 25 years. His comeback as Yusuf Islam may not interest you but his legacy as Cat Stevens is one of the gems of heartfelt singer/songwriter history.
Other posts about Cat Stevens in the archive:
The concert set features long tome collaborator Alun Davies on guitar and Larry Steele on bass.
How Can I Tell
Maybe You’re Right, Maybe Your Wrong
I Love My Dog