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Here is an interesting article from a magazine called Rock Magazine.  It is quite interesting in the fact, the writer catches Cat right before a live performance. This comes courtesy of Linda Crafar.   

Rock Magazine January 29, 1973
Cat Stevens:

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Success means, it's time to start all over again.


There’s something a bit sad and neglected about English seaside towns out of season. Once the buckets and spades and the few rays of sun have been chastened away by the bite of those northern winds, they are after all—just towns stripped of their bunting. But then maybe that’s when they settle down.

Once the sightseers and intruders go back home everything goes back to normal, and the Bed and Breakfast signs left creaking in the wind are maybe not cleaned up again until early Spring.

Boumemouth—70 miles along the motorway from London—huddles into itself on Wednesday night as high winds and torrential rain pound at it incessantly. It’s raining so fiercely that the Christmas lights in the town centre are a coloured blur.

Boumemouth is a kind of middle class seaside town. Not as rich as Brighton, not as overloaded with toffee apples and candy floss as Blackpool.

The people who pack the Winter Gardens are very enthusiastic but not overly demonstrative. They’ve come out to see Cat Stevens on a really filthy night and it’s enough to prove their devotion and admiration that they did it. But then that’s the kind of artist Stevens is—drawing people to him like a magnet when he’s certainly not a rabid rock and roller in the true sense of the word, and certainly never comes up with any tricks to get the audience off on him.

Stevens’ standing right now is really huge. I know some people who, not being able to get a smell of a ticket for the Royal Albert Hall, took to their wheels to go to Bournemouth without a moment’s hesitation.

By the end of Wednesday’s show—just 90 minutes after Cat walked on stage—the audience are up on their feet and down at the front for "Lady D’Arbanville", singing along too—but it’s taken Cat quite a lot of talking to get it:

"It’s funny—they were loving it but they seemed scared to move," he says later, sitting coolly on an amplifier backstage. "I have to do a lot of rambling.

It doesn’t matter what rubbish I say, it’s just that all that talking makes them realise something. That you’re really human".

These British dates are the round off of four months on the mad—Cat Stevens’ World Tour. And everybody in the Stevens entourage tonight, aside from Alun Davies, Gerry Conway and the others are wearing T. shirts that give you an indication of just how long they’ve all been out on the road.

There’s been Australia and Japan and America before this lot, and yet tonight it’s very obvious that something’s up. That instead of an enormous feeling of exhaustion and sheer ploughing weight of so many live gigs, so many miles, there's an incredibly high energy level with everyone.

Most of it is emanating from Stevens himself. Everyone remarks on it backstage, but if you hadn’t noticed it anyway you’d be pretty dumb. He’s really exuberant and happy—joking, laughing, ribbing Conway, and whining "Dat little black dawg" with Jean Rouselle in a send-up of Alun’s song.

With only ten minutes before he’s due on stage, there’s none of the tension you normally get—not just from Stevens, but from any artist that is noticeably jumpy before those first couple of early numbers are tucked under his belt and he’s had time to gauge what the audience is all about.

But there’s just smiles and kisses and "let’s do the interview now", which is really odd because it’s the unwritten law of rock and roll that nobody does interviews before they go on—and any journalist who asks is a fool who just doesn’t know what it’s all about.

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But he really does want to talk—urgently—he needs to explain this new-found emotional peak he’s going through. Why this inexplicable resurgence of energy should suddenly have hit him, three years after he came back to grow into the giant stature he’s at now.

Success is probably the most sought after, most prayed for and certainly most admired quality in the twentieth century. Western life is built, packaged and ribboned around success. Success is not just the American dream anymore—it’s everyone’s dream. To the artist it’s his incentive; to the outsider it appears to bring its own rewards.

But like everything pretty and shiny and smelling good, it’s something of a tender trap that brings its own problems. For three years Cat Stevens’ success growth has been rapid and sure-footed. There hasn’t been a slip on the way, and now with four world-wide smash albums tucked under his arm and the knowledge of his pulling power (he could have sold the Albert Hall out twice with no problem at all) he is in an admirably secure position—some would say.

But in fact it’s this very security that he appears to be fighting with all his new found strength.

In his dressing room he grins like a non-stop Cheshire cat. There is a friendly confusion in the air. Jean and bass player Alan James are indulging in some fine souped up Bach/jazz improvisation; Alun Davies is chatting with friends, Gerry Conway is drifting around as only he can—looking earnestly as though he’s just lost some important train of thought.

The band’s soundman, John, is working out who’s tuned what. Onstage, the Sutherland Brothers are three minutes into the first half and their harmonies can just be heard along the corridor when someone opens the door.

In the midst of the noise and rabble rousing Stevens talks with great determination—sometimes having to yell across the racket. Occasionally, during a conversation about how the four months on the road have seemed like one year encapsulated, he turns to Gerry to ask how he feels he’s changed. "Not much, not me" mutters Gerry thoughtfully."You just get much more involved in the music—there’s no diversion of energies on the road".

"Right", says Stevens enthusiastically "There’s no wastage that’s what it is. I think it’s become very noticeable to everyone how much I’ve changed. My friends really expected me to be a wreck after the tour. They can’t believe that you can do something you really dig and still come back digging it—and I did, I really did. I feel now I have all the energy in the world. And yet four months ago I felt drained.


"Catch bull was a determined effort. Now I feel like I’m starting all over again with all this inexhaustible energy coming in. It’s so weird and yet so nice. I can’t explain why it’s happened. I’m just thankful it has—because there’s this awful fear of getting stale. All artists get it. When something like this happens you just thank it for happening."

We get on to Catchbull Cat says he sees it as the end ‘of a four album period, but it’s probably more noticeable on that album that he was really trying to break away from a format that he’s accidentally found himself trapped in on the previous three:


"I must admit I remember reading somewhere how alike the material had become and how only three songs stood out. I thought at the time that the fact that they didn’t even consider the other seven…well it got me a bit wild. So I thought some kind of change was in order. I’m fighting hard now not to be too predictable in my writing and that’s a danger once it becomes easy—which it has for me.

"Now I have to change something that comes naturally and that forces me to think why I’m doing it. I think that’s why I haven’t started work on a new album yet—I’ve got to figure out and go back to the roots of just singing and enjoying writing. Success does effect your music and I’d like to come out with something now that’s freer and more natural and I think I will."

Success too has affected Stevens on a more personal level:

"I’m very determined not to become an institution. It’s very easy to fall into that—put out a record, promote it, do tours, interviews, all the things that are expected of you and that everyone else does. It’s hard not to and of course I take part in institutional things like everyone else.

"In the music scene you’re branded once you start. The career tends to rule you. The Albert Hall frightened me as being an institution. It took me a long time to make up my mind to play there.

"You see to me I only have two involvements. One is my music and the other is my family. As my career develops so my life with my family and friends changes until you get to the point of saying ‘well they’ve accepted me for doing what I’m doing and that’s what I didn’t want.’ I wanted to break free of something that was already organised always—like school, art school; work. I think that’s why I’ve changed now because I’m against that kind of security so much. I just don’t always want to do the accepted thing.

"No not like live appearances. They’re very important. I wouldn’t stop those—that’s how you keep communication. The only time I did stop I was writing and it was all the same figures, the same chord structures. Live is the point where all things take place, it is the one take and you know when you’re up there that if it takes off you’re going to finish really well.

"I don’t think that people who withdraw progress fast enough. Neil Young and Van Morrison? Yes they’re both cases in point. I really like their work but I don’t feel they’ve progressed very much musically and that may very well be because they don’t appear live enough.

"I don’t think you can ever rely on success---directly you do, it’s gone. But you do need a lot of energy not to fall into that trap. Now, the way I use the success I’ve got and the energy I’ve got has to be just right. And I feel that, maybe it’s a challenge in a way and perhaps that’s why I feel this new enthusiasm so much."

Bournemouth Winter Gardens. Full house. The rain’s stopped just for an hour. Up on stage Cat Stevens is perched over his piano, his black curls bouncing around and into "Miles From Nowhere,"… . .. "I have my freedom" he rightly pounds into the mike, curling his growl round it. "I can make my own road".

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