July 28, 2021

50 years of “Tea for the Tillerman”: from Cat Stevens to Yusuf and the “Tea for the Tillerman 2”

Half a century is enough time to know if an artistic work is timeless and, in music, there are many recordings that they achieved that status by becoming classics

It is already common for the record industry to publish X Anniversary editions, usually remastered, with bonus tracks and other attractions. Yusuf / Cat Stevens wanted to do something different: their most emblematic album (“Tea for the Tillerman”, 1970) reached the half century and instead of the remastered edition or the 2020 Remix and the respective bonus tracks, they decided to record eleven o’clock again. pieces included in that fantastic album. To do this, he sought out Paul Samwell-Smith, producer of the birthday boy “Tea for the Tillerman” who once again performs that important work on this 50th anniversary.

Of the musicians who participated in the original recording, there is only Alun Davies (guitar) and Bruce Lynch (bass), Eric Appapoulay (guitar), Kwame Yeboah (percussion, keyboards), Jim Cregan (guitar), Peter Vettese (keyboards) are included. , among others. The end result: a classic album that is reinterpreted without losing any of its magic; They are different moments and spaces and that translates into different versions but that maintain that essence that managed to captivate us half a century ago.

Logically the comparisons are going to come, but regardless of whether the opinion is “I like this or that better”, the two works are captivating. There are noticeable changes in some pieces and perhaps the most notable is “Wild world”, a novel interpretation, far removed from that theme that today continues to sound continuously in radio spaces and in our memory. Meanwhile, “Longer boats” is re-enriched with elements of reggae. For their part, the backing vocals and the electric piano included in “Where do the children play?” they take it to a new dimension.

The beauty of “Sad Lisa” has not been disturbed in 50 years. In the particular I miss that beautiful violin solo by John Rostein in the work of 1970 and that by 2020 is replaced by keyboards. It should be added that “But I might die tonight” brings to mind reminiscences of the genius George Harrison, all thanks to those experiments that the former Beatle made with Hindu music.

“On the road to find out” is loaded with mysticism, psychedelic encounters, slow rhythms and a guitar that when it picks up solo passages goes through the blues lands under Peter John Vetesse’s Hammond sound. “Father and son” also feels different, especially in the introduction, but it maintains the freshness and feeling that has allowed it to break the barriers of time.

Do you want a verdict? This new album sounds different and it makes sense. Yusuf / Cat Stevens has changed in these 50 years and has a different vision of life, that reality links it to music and manages to transmit it to those who listen to it today. 50 years later he sang the same songs but with a new look, resulting in a musical work that maintains genius, magic and intimacy, a hopeful song and … his voice does not change, thus giving us a common element with that album that published in 1970: greatness.