A lot has been said of Cat Stevens' early music being over-produced and filled with bloated '60s studio touches, which is true, but, even so, that shouldn't obscure the fact that in these songs lie the genius that was to become Cat Stevens. And they're not altogether bad songs either. This collection opens with "I Love My Dog," which, while not brilliant, at least showed that Stevens was willing to approach songwriting from unconventional angles even at that stage. The following track, "The First Cut Is the Deepest," would have been a perfect fit for the Righteous Brothers. The majority of the songs, which aren't as consistently great as his later work, are still impressive. "I'm So Sleepy" sounds similar to some of the tracks he'd be cutting in a few years, as does the Gordon Lightfoot-esque "Blackness of the Night" and "Where Are You," which wouldn't have been out of place on Mona Bone Jakon. That's not to say that some of the songs aren't poorly done, but, overall, if the horns and strings are stripped away, you still have a Cat Stevens album.
AllMusic Review by Matt Fink