Catch Bull At Four [AUDIO CASSETTE] [CASSETTE]
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After achieving a very focused and concise style on 'Teaser', Cat Stevens understandably wanted to experiment with more unusual song structures and ambitious arrangements, and the result is a somewhat more stylistically diverse album than its predecessors. As a result it is, if anything, a stronger, more musically satisfying album, and includes new elements such as electric guitar, synthesizer, female backing vocalists and the accomplished keyboard work of Jean Roussel. At the same time, the album retains much of what made Cat's earlier work appealing, and also includes the welcome re-appearance of the bouzouki to add its distinctive sound to 'O Caritas'.
The mood of the album is at times somber, reflecting Stevens' continuing spiritual pilgrimage at this time, and his deep feelings perhaps show through most in the opening track 'Sitting' and the bleak closing song 'Ruins'. Though there are a couple of weaker tracks (such as 'Boy...Read more ›
Fans can argue long and hard over the merits of the three albums but the truth is that, whichever is the best, they are all very fine indeed and together they represent the peak of the artist's output. Catch Bull at Four has a harder edge than the other two. It is most noticable in the vocals and lyrics but the music too is a little heavier.
The best known song on the album is "Can't Keep It In" but that is mostly because it is the easiest one to play on the radio as it is catchy and sticks in the mind. For me, the highlight of the CD is "The Boy With The Moon And Star On His Head" a lyrical and romantic fantasy that is as good as anything else that Cat Stevens has ever recorded. It deserves a place alongside the finest English folk ballads from the days of "Greensleeves" and John Dowland.
Highlighting any of the songs on this CD means not mentioning others and that is sure to do an injustice to many songs. Everything here is memorable and distinctive and the only answer is to buy the CD, concentrate on the songs and appreciate one of the true highlights of seventies music.
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.
What I discovered was not only was SITTING still great, but the entire CD made me flip with XTC. Cat Stevens is a pop culture icon and this cd shows him at his ultimate best.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
so hard to get some early Cat stuff ...... teenage memories of the vinyl LP .... just I can play it in the car now ...Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
cat stevens I can listen to him all day bought the album when it came out in the early 70sPublished 3 months ago by Patrica Biles
good to get this after all these years, not up there with Tillerman and Mona Bone Jakon but worthy; buying process simple and reliable, thanksPublished 3 months ago by MWH