Cat Stevens | Tea For The Tillerman Live – CD/DVD Review


Cat Stevens remains one of the most enigmatic figures in all of modern music.
His transformation from a 60s Popsicle to a 70s tunesmith to the pious and devout
philanthropist of today is like something out of a Tolkien book. Although he’s
returned to the mainstream bearing the Yusuf Islam name, the Cat Stevens behind
the triple-platinum albums Tea For The Tillerman and Teaser
And The Firecat
holds a special place in the hearts of fans. Numerous
compilations have managed to bring the best to the surface, but little has released
on film. Majikat, a 2004 CD/DVD set comprising Stevens’ Earth
Tour 1976, along with various TV segments from the early 70s, has been the only
legitimate release so far. But the more recent Tea For The Tillerman
DVD might interest collectors and fans alike in search of a vintage
Cat Stevens performance.

The arbitrary BBC, Grey Whistle and Midnight Special clips floating around
YouTube have nothing on this nine-song show from 1971. Stevens settles in rather
comfortably for an intimate, seemingly impromptu performance before a couple
dozen lucky fans within the confines of the studio of KCET, a Los Angeles-based
public television station. Accompanied by guitarist Alun Davies and bassist/percussionist
Larry Steele, Stevens takes a leisurely stroll through his sampling of his most
poignant and engaging songs — “Moonshadow,” “On The
Road To Find Out” and “Where DO the Children Play?”

After mumbling something about “Wild World” being hit and then
playing it, the pace gets up-ended with Stevens jumping on the piano for a pounding
rendition of “Miles From Nowhere.” He gets back on path with “Longer
Boats” and “Father And Son,” then takes a request for “Hard
Headed Woman” to finish up with. The golden 30-minute clip is followed
by the infamous animated film of Teaser And The Firecat. The night
swallows the day, the moon drifts into the shadows, and the soothing sound of
Cat Stevens brings you back to the early 70s when music came on vinyl or tape
and issues of politics and religion hadn’t entered the equation.

~ Shawn Perry