Cat Stevens. What can I say?
I was introduced to his music when “oh very young” and spending summers on a remote island in Georgian Bay. My mother bought a Cat Stevens tape from the record store in Midland Ontario, the only place where we could really connect with some semblance of urban culture, even though Midland is just a small town.
We didn’t have electricity on the island back then, so I listened to Cat on a small tape recorder with ‘C’ batteries—as long as the batteries lasted, that is.
So watching this DVD brought back some sweet memories of a golden era before the web, before scungy trolls and dysfunctional stalkers who might hack into your private life, read your emails, and so on.
Life was simpler and a bit slower back then. And although we can’t go back, we can remember and learn from that brief but inspiring ‘hippie’ era.
Musically, this DVD is second to none.
Cat is an amazing singer. I never realized just how good he is. He literally doesn’t hit a bad note during the entire performance.
In some ways, I almost like the live versions of these tunes better than the recorded. That’s rare for me. I usually prefer studio recordings (the only other exceptions being The Rolling Stones’ Got Live If You Want It and Pat Metheny Group’s Travels).
The backup band is equally impressive. The trio are tight but loose. By that I mean they really swing together making the combined rhythm anything but robotic.
In a word, this is a sublimely human concert. And there are no ‘loser’ tracks although I did find the session a bit short and would have liked a few more of Cat’s classic hits. Notably absent are “Morning Has Broken, ” “Peace Train,” and “The First Cut is the Deepest.”
To make up for that, the DVD includes a 70s style hippie video which I enjoyed. Cat Stevens once considered pursuing a career as an illustrator. And his illustrations are incorporated in this short film. A fuzzy version is posted on YouTube but it was nice to watch the original, higher quality video on a 16:9 TV.
Many have talked about Cat’s conversion to Islam, most music reviewers saying it was a shame to lose such a great creative talent for so many years. Wikipedia says Yusuf even went so far as to say Salman Rushdie should “be killed.” Yusuf denies this while Wikipedia claims this denial counters an earlier statement of 1989.
Myself, I don’t know what went down. Whatever Yusuf is or has become, he left us something wonderful on his “road to find out.”