15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
The Cat Grows Up In Style,
This review is from: Catch Bull at Four (Audio CD)
This was the first Cat Stevens album I acquired, and it remains my favourite. Having grown up hearing him on the radio in the late 60s and into the 70s, I was sufficiently accustomed to his songs not to feel the need to explore his music further. Until a friend played me side 2 of this album.
What I heard was quite different from the gentle troubadour of 'Peace Train', 'Oh Very Young' and his other well known songs. This was much darker, edgier and introspective, tinged with a sadness not found in his other material.
The likes of 18th Ave and Freezing Steel speak of alienation and bewilderment, expressed with confusion and a degree of wry humour; Sweet Scarlet was heart rending from the moment I heard it and remains so to this day; and O'Caritas and Ruins conjure visions of fire and death, melancholy and regret, none of which I had associated with Cat before.
By contrast, the 1st side is somewhat lighter, but no less satisfyngly different from his previous work. Sitting speaks of his fear of being left behind but confronts it with the boldness and courage to overcome the challenge. Gentler ballads remain in the forms of Boy... and Silent Sunlight, but Angelsea is a bright and restless song of celebration, with bursts of hitherto unheard synths and backing vocals (from the likes of Linda Lewis!). Likewise the sparkling Can't Keep It In, with its electric guitar and organ is a stronger and more forthright expression than most of his earlier work, and amidst the more sombre tone of the majority of the album, seems to stand as a powerful statement of his intent to move forward regardless.
For me, this is an album that shows a man growing beyond the style (and lifestyle?) which had nurtured his initial succes, in spite of criticism from others who wanted him to remain the perfect folk pop minstrel, preserved in 60s aspic. A beautiful and courageous record.