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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cat's Triumphant Return, 7 Nov 2010
This review is from: Mona Bone Jakon (Audio CD)
After collapsing in the fall of 1968 with a collapsed lung and tuberculosis, Cat Stevens was gone for over a year to recover. His first album had brought him fame and success, while his second album resulted in a much more subdued reaction. Thus it was this third album, and his reintroduction to the music world, which played a key role in his career. After the bloated arrangements of "New Masters", Stevens returned to a stripped down sound, and also transitioned from pop to folk at the same time. "Mona Bone Jakon" was released in July of 1970, a very strong album, and though it did not have much success on the charts, it did lead to "Tea for the Tillerman" later in 1970 which was a great success.

"Lady D'Arbanville" opens the album, with a love song to a dearly departed lady, though in the case of his former girlfriend the death was a metaphor for the state of their relationship. "Maybe You're Right" is next, a song about a relationship that is ending. "Pop Star" is next, an autobiographical piece about his brief career prior to his collapse. "I Think I See The Light" is about how love opens up a new world. "Trouble" closes out the first half of the album, and is a song about his time during convalescence.

The title track, "Mona Bone Jakon" starts the second half of the album. The track is named for Cat's private parts. "I Wish, I Wish" is probably the most Pop sounding song on the album. "Katmandu" is notable because Peter Gabriel plays flute on it. "Time" is next, the shortest piece on the album, even shorter than the title track, and a nice lead in to "Fill My Eyes", my personal favorite on the album. "Lilywhite" closes the album, and like almost all the songs on the second half of the album, it reflects a change in Cat's style, becoming more reflective.

"Mona Bone Jakon" isn't Cat's greatest album, but it is certainly one which is an important step in his career, and one which should not be forgotten. Cat sings, plays guitar, piano, keyboards, drums, and even some strings on this album. He is assisted by Alun Davies (guitar, backing vocals), John Ryan (bass), Nicky Hopkins (keyboards), Harvey Burns (drums, percussion), and Peter Gabriel (flute on "Katmandu").
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59 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Depressing? Cathartic!, 25 Jun 2001
By 
Dave Leeke (Orwell River Delta) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mona Bone Jakon (Audio CD)
The problem with being an old fart who was around when this album was first released is that I find the previous reviewer's comments about it being "depressing" hard to take. I remember my sister singing along to "I Love My Dog" etc, but I also remember watching the Simon Dee show when Cat was introduced as having not been around for awhile. Not only had he reinvented himself, but he almost single-handedly kick-started the British singer/songwriter movement. Cat had been in hospital after contracting Pneumonia/TB and had had his (first) near-death experience.
The music born out of this was astonishing to my 14 year-old ears. Here was an attractive male role model who took acoustic music to another realm. The ladies loved him and many lads probably thought they did too. Lyrically this is a very strong set and melodically it is too. The simple acoustic setting kept us listening to what was being said and he had obviously spent a hell of a lot of time thinking in hospital. I teach classes of kids of my age when I first heard this album and am constantly upset by how little kids want to say - or are able to - but Cat Stevens opened us up to some very deep feelings and gave us the tools to express ourselves.
No, I'm sorry this is NOT depressing, this is the sound of a man who thought he was going to die and then decided to not play the pop star game anymore - and became phenomenally even more successful by doing it. This works as an album of cathartic songs for me. The well known songs like "Lady D'Arbanville" are great to hear again, but my own favourite "Maybe You're Right" is the ultimate end-of-the-affair song. Del Newman's strings are always worth the price of admission (listen to Nick Drake or Ian Matthews) but the sparse arrangements of acoustic guitars, bass and percussion are a superb backdrop to a lovely collection of songs that - naive as they may be - I find more important than the following few albums.
Oh, and Peter Gabriel played flute on it, too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New beginning, 18 Feb 2008
By 
D. J. H. Thorn "davethorn13" (Hull, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mona Bone Jakon (Audio CD)
After two albums of colourful pop and a serious illness, Cat Stevens returned in a much-changed guise. Gone was the fashionable, fresh-faced man about town, and in was the t-shirted, chisel-featured, hirsute troubadour. How much influence his illness had on this music I don't know because the lyrics tend to be vague. The concept of time, however, recurs frequently on this album, especially the shortage of it. In some ways, this is a more interesting album than its more illustrious successors, as it has more twists and turns. 'Lady D'Arbanville' is a macabre tale in folk ballad mode, featuring a beguiling melody. 'Maybe You're Right' is rooted in the present, a resigned reflection on failed love. 'I Think I See The Light' is a brisk, piano-dominated slice of realisation and optimism, a track that sounds like a product of late 1960s revolution. 'Katmandu' follows other musicians into Eastern mysticism, though it's done without sitar or tabla. Instead ghostly traces of flute, courtesy of a young Peter Gabriel weave a beautiful melody with Stevens's guitar. 'Lillywhite' has an obscure lyric, two minutes of song and almost as much again of string-driven whimsy. All of the songs are wonderful, with the exception of 'Pop Star.' Stevens certainly gets his message across on this one, not with the plain lyric, nor with the slightly shambolic, standard blues picking, but with the wry, laconic vocal delivery. For me, this isn't enough. It's simply a poor song with an attitude, though it sounds like a deliberate act of sabotage. The brief title track has a similar element of darkness. 'Mona Bone Jakon' the album is, however, Stevens's biggest musical leap and well worth hearing.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetic and lyrical:One of Cat's best !, 26 Aug 2003
By 
Clem Fandango (N Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mona Bone Jakon (Audio CD)
I missed this the first time around coming in,as I did,with 'Tea for the Tillerman'.Thirty Three years on and finding myself filling in the gaps in my musical journey from youth to middle age,I picked this up through Amazon.
To my delight and amazement I find this-Cat's first album after he re-invented himself as a acoustic singer/songwriter- totally captivating !
I was familiar with one or two tracks which had appeared on Island compilation albums but it was wonderful to hear Mona Bone Jakon as a new album which sounded totally approachable and accessible all these decades later.
Like John Martyn,Van Morrison,Paul Simon,Nick Drake and other great singer songwriters,Cat's musical legacy is as valuable today as it ever was.
Mona Bone Jakon is a great album !
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mon bon Cat Stevens, 17 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Mona Bone Jakon (Audio CD)
Of all my recent purchases from Amazon, this CD is the one I have been most pleased with. The songs are all strong and do not seem to date.Best of all though is the production which is crystal clear. Cat Stevens is a much under-rated singer songwriter, and I will probably seek out the rest of his output.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Cat Stevens again at his very best., 3 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Mona Bone Jakon (Audio CD)
Love Cat stevens and all his albums are superb. Mona Bone Jakon is no exception. Up there with his best.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best singer/songwriter ever, 11 April 2013
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This review is from: Mona Bone Jakon (Audio CD)
this is my third favourite album by the cat only bettered by Teaser and Tillerman,a must have for any cat fan.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars magnifique!, 3 Oct 2003
By 
Ms. S. Benjamin "igerne" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mona Bone Jakon (Audio CD)
Ok, i love Cat stevens ,even if I was born many a year after he disappeared off out of the charts.
I bought this because I love the song Trouble, which features in my all-time favourite film, Harold and Maude(go see).
I think its an amazing album and who cares if it is a little more depressing than his usual stuff .... everyone needs to be sad sometimes you know and at least CS is sad in a literate manner...
heck, i just like sad songs, so sue me sue me what can you do me, I love this....(sinatra fan too...)
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9 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cat Stevens' most inspired, insightful and mature work., 29 Sep 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Mona Bone Jakon (Audio CD)
Josef Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens)was a man totally in touch with bipolarity when he crafted this masterpiece. Here are my personal takes on each track; I trust he would approve:
1. Lady D'Arbanville: Death of naivety/innocence and/or compassion, birth of cynicism, world-weariness and disillusionment. Even if goodness is re-discovered, one is changed forever more.
2. Maybe you're right : Irretrievable/irrevocable breakdown of a loving relationship; frustration and despair at miscommunication and damage thereto
3. Pop Star : Flabbergasted and flummoxed at the un-sought for commercial potential of art; never intended that life/career should take this route.
4. I think I see the light : The coming of Christ consciousness; divine inspiration into confusion.
5. Trouble: Sliding into depression (converse to above), EVERYTHING getting on top of him; wants to withdraw from world and go into seclusion.
6. Mana Bone Jakon : Stewing with emotions only just kept suppressed, ready to "snap", looking for an argument; totally self-justified even while acknowledgeing possibility of delusion.
7. I wish I wish: What does it all mean, this life the universe and everything? I am intelligent and nice, yet cannot get a lasting handle on e.g. inter-personal relationships.
8. Katmandu: Sanctuary, if only transient. Peace to a disturbed soul and troubled, busy mind. A chance to reflect, re-assess and regroup. "R&R".
9. Fill my eyes: Overwhelmed by true love which forgives all faults, wrongs and self-doubt, brings resolve to struggle on despite backsliding.
10./11. Timer/Time : Time is trully relative and measure thereof integral to individual moods and experience; space-time truly is a continuum.
12. Lillywhite : Perfection remains forever just out of reach yet infinitely far away, the cycle of self-discovery and improvement never ends.
Cat Stevens has, unsurprisingly, total connection with other great artists in this regard, e.g. Vincent Van Gough (e.g. "Katmandu" = "Bedroom at Arles"; "I wish I wish" = "Starry Night"), Dom Maclean (e.g. "Lady D'Arbanville" = "American Pie" etc.) and Roger Waters (e.g. "Trouble" = "Comfortably Numb"). Listen anew and understand!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEST CAT STEVENS ALBUM, 6 Feb 2011
This review is from: Mona Bone Jakon (Audio CD)
This is my favourite Cat Stevens album of all time, and I am a true fan of his. The only song I don't absolutely adore is My Lady D'Abanville' - and that is still a good song. This is a beautiful, beautiful album, I can't recommend it highly enough.
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Mona Bone Jakon
Mona Bone Jakon by Yusuf/Cat Stevens (Audio CD - 2000)
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