I know, I know...some people are going to say "Tea for Tillerman motherfucker!!! Represent!!!"
Well, they may not use those exact words, but you get the idea. I agree "Tea for Tillerman" also rocks, but I'm only one man and I can only write one post at a time.
Released in 1971, "Teaser and Firecat" went on to go triple platinum, same as the previous album 'Tea for Tillerman.' That's two triple platinum albums, back to back. Name an artist today who can do the same, or who can play the guitar, polymoog, bass, keyboards, electric mandolin, bouzouki, harpsichord, penny whistle and percussion. I can't. But then again, there aren't any Cat Steven's running around any more.
Born Steven Dentre Georgiou in 1948, Stevens started off at the Hammersmith Art School at age 16, but was soon dismissed as he had decided music was where his interests really lay. ( His original artwork adorns many of his albums including "Teaser" ) But it was during this formative period that he discovered folk music.
He changed his name to Cat Stevens (he felt it was a more appropriate stage name than his give one) in th late sixties and began performing in local venues before being discovered at age 18 and releasing his first album "Matthew and Son." After a lukewarm second album and a bout with tuberculosis the following year, he decided he wanted to bring his music to the world.
After signing with Island Records, he dropped the deeply personal "Mona Bone Jakon" in 1970, laying down the template for the singer/songwriter album that would be used successfully for many folk artists in the seventies. Using this as a launchpad, Stevens mixed some of his pop sensibilities back into the next two albums and hit pay-dirt with "Tea" and "Teaser."
Filled with hits and good vibes "Teaser and Firecat" remains a solid treat for the ears. Back in the dark years when I had no access to other music, this was one of the only other high points in my mother's record collection. Stevens has a sound that just doesn't compare to similar artists...one that mixes folk, rock and pop in a way that's just insanely wonderful. You may remember a few years back when Homeland Security stopped Stevens (who converted to Islam in 1977 and now goes by Yusef Islam) from entering the country.
I paraphrase Jon Stewart who said "Good work, Guys! You stopped the man who wrote 'Peace Train!'"
After he converted, Stevens walked away from music, using his weath and notoriety for a slew of philanthropic causes. Only recently has he made a musical resurgence…and I hope it continues. The world still needs music.