Album Review - Circus Magazine - Janis Schacht - July 1974
and The Chocolate Box (A&M)
It was early 1967 when Cat
Stevens, a young boy from Londons Shaftesbury Avenue first entered my life. At the
time there was no doubt in my mind that he was one of the most incredible finds Id
ever made. Mismanagement, ill-health and too much living took the Cat away for two years,
but when he returned in 1969 he was stronger and even more impressive than ever. As Cat
Stevens grew bigger and bigger and more important, his music began to slip a little. It
never got bad, it just became less personal and less blatantly exceptional. In fact, the
last time Cat played New York City he was so bored with himself and his music that he even
clock-watched for the duration of his performance.
Now, something very
special has happened. Cat Stevens has been hanging out on Shaftesbury Avenue again,
helping to redecorate his mother and fathers restaurant, the Moulin Rouge, and with
this re-entry to his past his music has become stronger, more interesting and a good deal
better than either Catch Bull At Four or Foreigner.
It was 1971 on a
London stage not far from Cats original home that he introduced a brand new song
called "King Of Trees," explaining that it had taken him over a year to finish,
because he wanted to create words as beautiful as the melody. For some strange reason
its taken him two and a half years to put the song on record, but its as
staggering now as it was that very first time.
Two people have
returned to Mr. Stevens life on this LP: Paul Samwell Smith and guitarist Alun
Davies who were both sorely missed on Foreigner. These two bring the guitar playing
back up to par and put the production back into control.
young," Cat sings, "what will you leave us this time/Youre only dancing on
this earth/for a short while." Perhaps he has come to realize that he does have
something very special to give us earthlings, and it had better be the very best he can
give us all the time. Still very young at twenty-four, Cat Stevens has lived a lot
harder and more fully than many older than him. Still he sees life in a unique way.
Whether hes singing about ladies on the road in songs such as "Sun/ C79"
or about a tired old film lot in "Ghost Town," his perspective is always far
more vivid than most.
Stevens is never a cynic. His music is full of life and the sheer love of it. Supposedly
because of his early brush with death, he sees the world with crystalline clarity, and,
thank goodness the music hes putting down is now as clear, and as beautiful as the
thoughts hes trying to bring across. Buddha and The Chocolate Box is Cat
Stevens second comeback.