Gold Best of, Original recording remastered
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|1. Matthew & Son|
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|6. Where Do The Children Play?|
|7. Hard Headed Woman|
|8. Wild World|
|9. Sad Lisa|
|10. Father And Son|
See all 17 tracks on this disc
|2. Silent Sunlight|
|4. Can't Keep It In|
|5. 18th Avenue (Kansas City Nightmare)|
|6. The Hurt|
|7. Foreigner Suite|
|8. Oh Very Young|
|9. King Of Trees|
|10. Another Saturday Night|
See all 15 tracks on this disc
For nearly four decades Cat Stevens' music has touched millions of people worldwide. His heartfelt accounts of longing, lost innocence and the search for purpose helped make him one of a handful of artists to maintain a long-running presence on the radio and on the pop and the album charts. His songs, including 'The First Cut Is The Deepest', 'Here Comes My Baby', 'Wild World', 'Father & Son' and 'Peace Train' have been successfully covered by artists throughout the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s. Cat Stevens Gold collects together 31 exquisite Cat Stevens classics, including the newly recorded Cat Stevens song 'Green Fields & Golden Sands', his first new pop recording in over 25 years. Universal. 2005.
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Four of Cat Stevens' early UK hits are not here, including his 1966 debut "I Love My Dog" (#28). Also missing is his final Top 50 U.S. hit "Banapple Gas" (#41, 1976). [All five of these tracks are on the box set.] In fact, Stevens' first three albums are represented by only five tracks.
Also missing are Stevens' final Top 40 hits, "Ready" and "Two Fine People." [Inexplicably, they are also missing from THE VERY BEST OF as well as the box set.]
Bottom line, this two-disc set could have been more complete, considering disc 1 runs 54:32 and disc 2 runs 71:05. There was easily room for another 30 minutes of music.
Nearly half of the tracks (15 altogether) are taken from his three best albums: TEA FOR THE TILLERMAN, TEASER AND THE FIRECAT and CATCH BULL AT FOUR. [On a personal note, I regret the omission of "The Boy With the Moon And Star on His Head."]
In addition, GOLD includes two wonderful tracks from the HAROLD AND MAUDE SOUNDTRACK: "Don't Be Shy" and "If You Want To Sing Out Sing Out."
While THE VERY BEST OF included only an edit of "Foreigner Suite," GOLD includes the entire 18-minute original.
Finally, the inclusion of "Indian Ocean" alone makes this a required purchase. This song was recorded earlier this year with royalties going to Yusuf Islam's charity "Small Kindness" to benefit victims of last December's devastating tsunami. Without being preachy, the song juxtaposes Western opulence with Third World poverty. [Favorite lyric: "But just look at those eyes/She must be Paradise."] More than twenty-five years after his last commercial album, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens shows he is still an artist to be reckoned with. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Stevens' found success on both the singles and album charts throughout the latter part of the '60s and into the late-70s, and A&M samples from throughout this fertile period. The classic material opens with Stevens' first major UK hit, "Matthew and Son," and closes with the emotional "Last Love Song" from 1978's "Back to Earth." The entire set ends with Stevens' most recent release, the spellbinding "Indian Ocean," recorded in support of tsunami relief in early 2005. In between the collection pulls together the familiar U.S. hits and augments them with tracks that made a bigger splash in the UK (e.g., "Matthew & Son" "Can't Keep it in" "Lady D'Arbanville"). Many of the UK hits became favorite FM album tracks in the US, and several original songs were brought to prominence in cover versions (including "Here Comes My Baby" by The Tremeloes, "Wild World" by Jimmy Cliff, and "The First Cut is the Deepest" by P.P. Arnold, later by Rod Stewart, and yet again by Sheryl Crow). Also included is Stevens' 1974 cover of Sam Cooke's "Another Saturday Night."
A few chart items are missing, including early UK hits "I Love My Dog," "I'm Gonna Get Me a Gun," and "A Bad Night," as well as minor US top-40s, "Ready" and "Two Fine People" (the latter originally tacked onto Stevens' 1975 greatest hits release), but these are made up for by a generous helping of fine album cuts, including 1970's "Trouble" and "Sad Lisa" (both from the classic "Tea for the Tillerman" LP and covered in later years by Marianne Faithful, Bruce Robison, and Kristen Hersh, among others), "Don't Be Shy" (from the soundtrack to "Harold & Maude"), 1972's "Bitterblue," the ambitious 18-minute side-long "Foreigner Suite" from 1973's "Foreigner," and many more. Despite their lack of release as singles, many of these non-charting tracks will be familiar from then-dominant album-oriented radio formats.
This is an excellent set, representing all of Stevens' original albums with hits and finely selected album tracks. All 31 vintage pieces were remastered from the original stereo analog tapes and sound fresh and crisp. Unless you're in for the original albums (which you may well be after this sampling), this is the place to start appreciating Stevens' classic works. [©2005 hyperbolium dot com]
The mid 70s "Greatest Hits" is still a favorite of mine, and a couple of the tracks on there aren't on here. There are a few of his "groovy 60s" hits left off as well, but a lot of songs that are here like "Trouble", "Sad Lisa", "Foreigner Suite", "Bitterblue", "Angelsea", and so on. I would have liked to have heard the quirky "Was Dog a Doughnut" on here and a few more early songs to have given the collection a more balanced overview, but the box set does that far better.
Biggest reason to get this is Yusef's "Indian Ocean", a song that
he has finally relented after 25 years to singing with a band again. But I had also hoped he would have put his remake of "Peace Train" that he had done a few years ago (it was with drums and backup singers that sounds great) that I like a lot.
It's unfortunate that since he converted that he became the "bad guy" in some people's eyes, long before the Dixie Chicks had radio stations steamrolling over his albums, the plane flight incident that most likely will never have him come back to the US, politics and the current state of affairs have overshadowed his music.
The man is unfairly maligned for his sincere religious beliefs. To condemn Yusuf Islam (his chosen name), for what he has found in life is ignorant. (See the remarks of Scott Kupitz below.)Cat Stevens is no more brainwashed that a sports fan that thinks his home team is better than another city's professional assemblage. Stevens/Islam walked away from money, adoration, women and luxury for his God. So did Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and dozens of others in Rock.
This is a great assortment at a great price and A & M is to be commended for putting over 100 minutes of great music on the market for an almost reasonable price. (All CDs are over priced, but the Gold series is a comparative bargain).