Teaser And The Firecat

Cat Stevens

A & M Records, 1971

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/12/2006

The tale of Cat Stevens has always fascinated me; how often do we see our pop stars completely abandon their career, especially for religion? Okay, there's Al Green and Brian "Head" Welch from Korn and Neal Morse from Spock's Beard... but Stevens, or Yusef Islam as he is now known, is the only one to choose Islam, and has to my knowledge stayed away from the pop scene since he converted.

That interest did not lead to any Cat Stevens being played in Casa de Clutterbuck until I recently picked up my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Teaser And The Firecat for a buck at the local Goodwill store. The music from this album is as inoffensive and happy-go-lucky as it can get, even for folk music. Stevens apparently was quite the idealist, one read through of the lyrics to "Peace Train" or "Changes IV" tells you that. To be honest, this unabashed optimism and cry for peace didn't bother me as much as I would have expected, the reason being Steven's sincerity; he sings the words like he means them.

It's funny because this is a short album, yet sections manage to drag. "Rubylove" is homage to Steven's ethnic roots, but if you're looking for Greek-related entertainment, just rent My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The inane lyrics ruin "Moonshadow;" people have said Stevens was great at making nursery-type songs. This is a great example.

Stevens does actually craft a few up tempo numbers that are very appealing. "Changes IV" has expert guitar work and a catchy refrain. This track is as close to rock as things get on Teaser And The Firecat. "Tuesday's Dead" takes "Rubylove" and improves on it; it plays out much less hokey. "Peace Train" was one of the hits, but this is the one instant where the hippie-era lyrics got to me. I can deal with the unlimited love for a time, but this one overdoes it.

However, it is the quieter moments that work best for Stevens. "The Wind" is a beautiful ballad, and recently came back into prominence with its inclusion in Almost Famous. "Morning Has Broken" spots some soaring piano along with some religious lyrics that work because they don't get too specific. A country number this is not.

Stevens made most of Teaser And The Firecat work through sheer force of his unique personality. However, there's something to be said for too much of a good thing. There are enough moments to warrant a listen, especially considering that the sucker isn't that long in the first place.

Rating: B-

User Rating: B+


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© 2006 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of A & M Records, and is used for informational purposes only.