This is an article from Ice Magazine, which is
more like a newsletter, is sold in music stores. The magazine tells all about current cd
releases. In this issue they talked about the new Best of Cat Stevens CD, as well as
the up and coming re-releases and some exciting news about the Box Set due out in
the fall of 2000. This article is contributed by and transcribed by Jill
CAT COMES UP FOR AIR
THE CATALOG OF CAT
STEVENS, once a man at the forefront of the prominent singer/songwriter movement
of the early 70s, is due for a major overhaul this year. Even after the passage of
20 years and Stevens total withdrawal from the music business, his catalog continues
to sell exceptionally well on CD.
To kick things off, March
28 sees the release of a new compilation, The Very Best of Cat Stevens, on
UTV/A&M. (The "UTV" designation means that Universal plans a major
television ad campaign.) The roll-out continues in May with remastered versions of Mona
Bone Jakon, Tea for the Tillerman, and Teaser and the Firecat on A&M
proper, with Catch Bull at Four, Foreigner and Buddha and the Chocolate Box following
later in the summer. October is currently penciled in for an as-yet-untitled box set,
while the final three albums (Numbers, Izitso and Back to Earth) are
presently on tap for next year.
After his initial, modest
success in Britain in the mid-60s, Stevens survived a nervous breakdown and
reemerged in 1970 with Mona Bone Jakon (with a young Peter Gabriel on flute), an
album which saw some of its tracks used for the soundtrack to the cult film Harold and
Maude. Stevens flourished after that, throughout the 70s, until a brush with
death late in the decade caused him to abandon his career after converting to Islam.
Little was heard from Stevens until 1989, when he made news by refusing to criticize the
Islamic death threat against writer Salman Rushdie. Now know as Yusuf Islam, the singer
eventually conceded that perhaps death was a bit too severe for the Satanic Verses novelist.
ICE spoke with producer
Bill Levenson, who is heading up the reissue series for the Universal Music Groups
Chronicles division. "Over the last five or so years," Levenson says,
"weve been pulling together the best sources from A&M and Island
[Stevens U.S. and U.K. labels, respectively]. All the albums have been remastered
from the original two-track masters." He adds that The Very Best of package
will be a preview of remastered things to come: "Teaser and Tea have
always been audiophile benchmark records. Even the old Mobile Fidelity versions are not
even close to the job done by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound on these. Youll be amazed
when you hear them."
Levenson recently spent a
day in London with Islam, going over ideas for the reissue campaign. There they mixed a Mona
Bone outtake, "Ive Got a Thing About Seeing My Grandson Grow Old," for
inclusion on the best-of and box sets. "Hes a very thoughtful man,"
Levenson says. "He has terrific ears. You defer to him because whenever he suggested
something, he was right."
The reissues will not
include any bonus material, but they will faithfully replicate the original LPs. Levenson
is still working on the box, and has a wealth of rarities to choose from. "Were
looking at live stuff, demos that pre-date his Decca days, and 20-30 key outtakes
including a 1970 session with Elton John. We also have all his guitar/vocal and
piano/vocal demos, along with his more recent Yusuf Islam material."
Once this phase of the
reissue campaign has been completed, there is a chance that more unissued material may
surface, including a live retrospective. And that perennial best-seller, 1975s
simple, 12-track (and triple-platinum) Greatest Hits, will also be remastered and
reissued somewhere down the line.