Friday, September 04, 2009

It's not time to make a change...

One of the enjoyable things about being on holiday was having the time to listen to some of the podcasts I had stacked up. I was more than pleased I managed to catch Coverville 599 "The Cat Stevens Cover Story". It was very timely; the BBC had recently broadcast some Cat Stevens / Yusuf Islam material recently, probably prompted by 50 (?) years of Island Records celebrations.

It's hard but it's harder to ignore it

I remember buying and listening to "Tea for the Tillerman" when I was in my late teens - I'd play "Father and Son" over and over and over again. Never mind the sentiments, the arrangement is wonderful - especially the verse where the father sons are both singing. I think - although I'm not sure - the original recording has Cat Stevens singing both parts. The BBC's archive recording (Old Grey Whistle Test?) shows Cat Stevens playing the song with another guitarist (who's name escapes me at the moment) and they sing that verse together,

You're still young.... that's your fault

Until I saw the BBC's program I hadn't realised what a superstar Cat Stevens was in the 60s. I remember songs like "Lady D'Abanville" and "The First Cut Is The Deepest" I don't remember Cat Stevens as a celebrity - in fact, I'm sure that I didn't know that Cat Stevens had written "First Cut@ until Rod Stewart recorded the song. I think it was brought home to me when I watched a documentary about Island Records where he explained how wonderful it was to escape fame and to have the space to write and produce his music.

For you will still be here tomorrow but your dreams may not...

After years away from the music scene Yusuf Islam has reemerged. The Coverville podcast has a version of "Father and Son" by Ronan Keating "featuring Yusuf". I'm afraid it's not up to the original, nor more relevantly, up to the performance that Yusuf gives on a BBC recording of one of his recent concerts. I watched the programme minutes after I watched the BBC's archive recording. Yusuf played several of Cat's greatest hits including "Father and Son". Very interesting, the generational thing was underwritten by his referring to his granddaughter, and the arrangement was just like the original. Indeed, I was struck by the likeness of his collaborator to the guitarist who had played alongside him 35 years previously - indeed the same man. A great experience to witness but not as good as the archive materal; better than Ronan though. (Ronan's recording is severely let down by an arrangement which substitutes a rather nasty sounding synthtrument in place of a guitar in the original.

Away, I know I have to go...

Returning to Coverville 599. Brian Ibott has chosen very interesting tracks. Two of them have personal interest - the other one being "Sad Lisa" by "Naked Eyes" who featuring the late Rob Fisher who was a university friend of a friend. Mind you, I could without Ellen Greene's "Morning Has Broken" - I sang it better when I was at school.

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