Cat Stevens

Majikat: Earth Tour 1976

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During his popular heyday in the 1970s, Cat Stevens did not release a live album, so it was some surprise that, nearly 30 years later, a live recording turned up on both DVD and CD. The performance captures Stevens on his 1976 American tour, just past his commercial peak. (Numbers, the album he was promoting, broke a string of six consecutive Top Ten albums in the U.S. by peaking at number 13 in Billboard.) Supported by the same musicians who had played on his records, including guitarist Alun Davies and keyboard player Jean Roussel, he had a repertoire of hits and other favorites, and the audience can be heard cheering enthusiastically, not only for the chart singles, but also for tracks from albums like Mona Bone Jakon, Tea for the Tillerman, and Teaser and the Firecat. Stevens performs faithful versions of eight of the 11 hit singles he had scored in the U.S. up to this point (omitting "Morning Has Broken," "Sitting," and "Ready"), interspersing them with equally familiar songs such as "Where Do the Children Play," "Tuesday's Dead," and "Father & Son." ("How Can I Tell You," another audience favorite, is missing from the DVD version of this concert, while the DVD boasts performances of "Miles from Nowhere" and "Ruins" not found on the CD.) For most of the show, Stevens says practically nothing, but toward the end he becomes much more talkative, saying of "Sad Lisa" that he may have been writing about himself rather than the woman of the title; admitting that his recent single "Two Fine People" is musically a rewrite of his earlier hit "Wild World"; and revealing that he actually wrote "Peace Train" on a train, although he was thinking of Alfred Hitchcock (and presumably, of the film Strangers on a Train) at the time. More such revelations would have been welcome, but as it is the album constitutes an excellent Stevens best-of.

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