Teaser And The Firecat

Cat Stevens

A & M Records, 1971


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Sometimes, I'm real thankful that I have an unlisted phone number.

You see, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens (see, someone did pull this before Prince) would probably not mind finding out where I live and chop off my hands after I write this review of his 1970 release Teaser And The Firecat. Never mind the fact that this album features three of Stevens's best-known and most enjoyable hits - the remainder of the album is rather flat and forgettable.

Stevens (who has been known as Yusef Islam since his conversion to the Muslim religion) showed how talented of a folk musician he was with the hits "Peace Train" (which 10,000 Maniacs covered, but pulled off their my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 In My Tribe album after Stevens/Islam called for the death of author Salman Rushdie) and "Moonshadow". The latter track has always been a favorite of mine; the guitar work on this one alone is astounding. Lyrically, it is also very strong - and though it may make me look like a fuddy-duddy, I love this song.

The other well-known track off this album is "Morning Has Broken," a song which still gets regular play in some churches. It's not really a religious song per se - God is only mentioned once in the lyrics - so I'm not really sure why the Catholic Church picked up on this one so heavily. (Anyone who can enlighten me on this, feel free to e-mail me.)

If only the remainder of the material on Teaser And The Firecat were able to live up to the excellence of these three songs, this would be an album that stands out bar none. But the remainder of the material is subpar in comparison - not a grand thing for an album that barely clocks in at over a half-hour. "Rubylove" even features a verse in Greek - if you understand Greek (and can read it in the liner notes), I guess you'd enjoy it more.

But for each hit, there's two weaker songs like "If I Laugh" (which could have been a great song - maybe in a different context on a different album) and "Bitterblue". The mediocrity of the material is the biggest letdown on the whole album - I expected so much more when I dug this one out of the Pierce Archives (where we're betting on Titanic winning the Best Picture award Monday night).

Stevens put out some great music before he turned his back on the industry that made him famous - and the three hits on Teaser And The Firecat have lost little of their shine over the past 27 years. But it's hard to say if it's worth suffering through the remainder of the album to get to the cream of the crop - isn't that what "greatest hits" collections were invented for?


Rating: C+

User Rating: B+



© 1998 Christopher Thelen 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.