SP 4313 Teaser And The Firecat
Produced by Paul Samwell-Smith
Released on September 1971
UK CHART POSITION #3 . . .
US CHART POSITION #2 . . . GOLD RECORD (10/18/71), 3x PLATINUM (3/22/01)
Find it at GEMM
82157-2 cover
[high resolution photo]
 

N ot simply one of the best albums from 1971, but from the ‘70s. It’s a nearly perfect record, generating a level of awe and admiration similar to Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water. At the heart of the record is Cat Stevens’ spiritual journey through the world, rendered in warm and imaginative arrangements at once wise and childlike. “The Wind” sets the tone from the beginning, with Cat following the model of Jesus Christ (“I never wanted water once”) and putting his life in God’s hands. Such a heavy burden needs lightening; enter “Rubylove,” a Greek love song featuring twin bouzoukias that is utterly charming. An intimate, confessional style follows on the next three tracks, modest in arrangement but deep in resonance. The floodgates open on the second side, with every track a memorable moment in the CATalog. (In fact, four of the five tracks on side two were released as singles, with “Bitterblue” equally deserving.) “Tuesday’s Dead” addresses Cat’s confusion as he searches for a meaning and purpose in life, underscored with a herky-jerky rhythm that nearly has an island/reggae feel to it. “Morning Has Broken” is actually a hymn set to music, and is one of a handful of secular songs to have crept into ecumenical services. “Bitterblue” reprises the pent-up frustration of “Tuesday’s Dead,” leading into the shared revelations of “Moonshadow” and “Peace Train.” There’s something so ingratiating yet powerful about these songs, they literally draw you in like a magnet. As a boy, my ears would prick up every time my Dad played this record on the turntable; in fact, I remember buying him a Teaser And The Firecat book at a school fair, as it represented a shared musical affection. (The book probably had some nonsensical pretext based on the album’s artwork, but of course my Dad never let on that it wasn’t of the highest literary order.) Therein lies my appreciation for Teaser And The Firecat: it feels like a warm hug from God, a parent/child relationship of a different order of course. Stevens is looking into the mirror of his soul here, and inviting us to do the same, following the piper’s progress down the road to redemption and thus moving closer to that goal ourselves.

SP 4313 back cover SP 4313 inner gatefold
SP 4313 back cover SP 4313 inner gatefold

TRACK LISTING

  1. THE WIND    1:40
  2. RUBYLOVE    2:35
  3. IF I LAUGH    3:20
  4. CHANGES IV    3:27
  5. HOW CAN I TELL YOU    4:25
  6. TUESDAY'S DEAD    3:34
  7. MORNING HAS BROKEN    (Words by E. Farjeon)    3:15
  8. BITTERBLUE    3:07
  9. MOONSHADOW    2:37
  10. PEACE TRAIN    4:10

    Songs by Cat Stevens unless noted

CREDITS

CAT STEVENS -- guitar & keyboards, illustration
HARVEY BURNS -- drums
GERRY CONWAY -- drums
ALUN DAVIES -- guitar
ANGELOS HATZIPAVLI -- bouzoukia
DEL NEWMAN -- strings
LARRY STEELE -- bass & congas
ANDREAS TOUMAZIS -- bouzoukia
David Bailey -- photograph

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK September 1971 Island LP ILPS 9154 gatefold cover
US/CAN September 1971 A&M LP SP 4313 gatefold cover
AUS'L 1971 Island LP SIL934323 gatefold cover
BRA 1971 Island LP 410003  
FRA 1971 Island LP 9101 658  
GER 1971 Island LP 85389IT  
US 1974 A&M LPQ QU5 4313 quadrophonic stereo
AUS'L 1980s Island LP L34323 gatefold cover
BRA 1986 Island CS 764718  
JPN 1994 A&M CD POCM-1973  
US 1995 Mobile Fidelity LP 244 original master recording
US 1995 Mobile Fidelity CD UDCD-649 original master recording
UK 2000 Island CD IMCD269  
EUR/AUS'L 2000 Island CD 546 885 digital remaster


SUGGESTED READING

In the mid '70s, Cat Stevens also released a small, illustrated children's book following the brief adventures of Teaser And The Firecat. Clicking on that link will take you to GEMMbooks, where a used copy of it may be purchased. I bought a copy for my father as a child, in one of those library book fairs where most kids squandered their money on Mad Libs and books issued by Mad magazine.

 

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