Monday 23 October 2017

Cat Stevens "The Laughing Apple" (2017)

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In 2014 huge mega Beatles fan Cat Stevens announced that he was going to be covering a Paul McCartney song for a tribute album (released as the rather good ‘Art Of McCartney’). As one of the bigger names speculation was rife as to which song Cat might perform: a spiritual like ‘Let It Be’? An acoustic song a la ‘Tillerman’ and ‘Teaser’ like ‘Mother Nature’s Son’ perhaps? Or maybe, as a genuine fan, Cat would sing something not many people would know (I was so hoping for ‘Somebody Who Cares’ off the ‘Tug Of War’ album, Paul’s most Cat-like song). Instead the recently-renamed Yusuf surprised us all I think by doing ‘The Long and Winding Road’. Even though I’ve heard that song a million times in its Beatle version (with or without the messed up Phil Spector overdubs),Cat’s version was so strong that whenever I think of that song now it’s his version that comes to mind.
This shouldn’t have been quite the surprise it should have been because, in a lightbulb moment, I realised that Cat had been using the same long and winding road for a life imagery in his work even before Paul had written his song. While all songwriters are to some extent going on a ‘journey’ (a horrible 21st century word that simply means ‘they’ve lived a bit and their life experiences changed them’), Cat is the only other writer I’ve ever heard that rather than give us audio diaries of their life tries to give us a map as well. There are endless songs in his catalogue about roads, of setting out on a journey and what he might find there. Even now, in his comeback years, Yusuf’s best latter-day album ‘Roadsinger’ has him still on this journey, still learning and singing songs about his experiences. The result is, if you happen to notice it (or you are reading this article), a treasure map of sorts. Only the treasure is not gold or riches but a better understanding of the way the world works. To understand the world, though, first you must visit it…
Let’s go back to the beginning, when Cat is all of eighteen and cutting his first single [3] ‘I Love My Dog’. Though the A-side is deliberately cute and commercial (though contradictory; what next, ‘I Love My Cat By Dog Stevens’?!?) it’s the B-side that gives us our first clue. [6] ‘Portobello Road’ was, for Cat, a mere four miles away from his family home in Shaftesbury Avenue. A famous market district of West London, it’s a song with a very home-grown feel. There’s a jumble of images, of discarded items for sale at the market all thrown in together. Cat is particularly keen on the way items discarded by different cultures are all rubbing shoulders in the same box. The song is as literal and realistic as Cat Stevens songs ever become, but there’s a twist in the last verse. Cat has been insisting for several minutes now that he’s been walking miles trying to look for something he needs – by the end it’s a worry that he hasn’t found it here and ‘growing old is my only danger’. The hint is that he’s carried on walking past the end of the song, past the market stalls and onto some very different road to find a very different sort of item that he is searching for.
A few months later Cat is recording another of his early batch of teenage songs for first album ‘Matthew and Son’. Rather overshadowed amongst the three top ten hits (for himself and for The Tremeloes) lies a song titled [8] ‘I See A Road’. Cat tells us the title over and over – he’s seen the road he must leave on and it scares him a little bit. He’s not ready to take it yet, not when ‘home’ is so inviting, with his girlfriend waiting for him. He’s desperate not to lose time, scared that it’s her who will ‘grow old’ this time (maybe it’s even his worry that she’s going to grow up before him; it could well be an early song about his first serious girlfriend Patti D’arbanville, who by his own admission was a little more developed emotionally than he was at the time). So he ignores the road and runs home, more interested for now in ‘the yellow ribbon in her hair’ and oddly enough where ‘silk music plays out of the country’ (of all the AAA members, Cat was born the closest to the centre of a big city, namely London; by comparison The Who, The Small Faces and The Kinks were all born on the fringes, at the point where London feels more like a ‘village’ full of locals you see all your lives and with a separate identity to the big bustling part of town). However its notable that in this song he keeps going back to the idea of the road outside his door and what might lie in the opposite direction from home – he’s still singing it when the song ends and the orchestra drowns him out. A quick mention here too for another song from the first album [7] ‘I Found A Love’. Rather than find her in the city, though, she was ‘hidden down a back street, ba-by-ee yeah’ meaning that Cat had to look for his love and she wasn’t obvious to find, an early sign that he’s going to prefer travelling down roads away from the straight and narrow.
Second album ‘New Masters’ is Cat growing up before our ears. Even though he’s only nineteen he already sounds old before his time and vulnerable, aware that he’s running out of time to see the world and escape where he’s living. For now, though, the road is still literal rather than metaphorical. This is the album that’s full of references to real places in the world: [24] ‘Ceylon City’ is now known as Sri Lanka and clearly isn’t anything like ‘where I was born’ as Cat puts it. Maybe he’s thinking about reincarnation as he wonders if the town will be the way it was when he left it, full of wooden sailing ships and children ‘laughing a happy song’. ‘Ceylon’ is the only song specifically set somewhere foreign, but there are so many other songs from this period that feel like it: [18] ‘Northern Wind’ is an early reference to the winds of change (as most famously heard on the song simply named [65] ‘The Wind’) and it’s clearly blowing him somewhere new, ‘come for you and anyone whose helped you along’. Cat yearns to live ‘where the stars shine bright’ – far away from the smoky metropolis of London – and when he hears the bird sing Cat ‘doesn’t want to fight it, because I want to go!’ There’s also a song that seems to reveal just how sick Cat was of home: while [31] ‘Lovely City (When Do You Laugh?)’ is not obviously set anywhere, its notable that Cat now feels lost in a place where he used to call home. ‘I’m an unexpected visitor who dropped in for tea’ he sighs, the magic of the city having been lost now that he’s seen so much of the rest of the world.
Or has he? I wondered, before I knew Cat’s chronology, if this was an album written on tour like so many other AAA albums that do similar things (10cc’s ‘Bloody Tourists’ is a good example, with songs for Tokyo and a hymn to the power of the telephone to keep you in touch with the folks back home). But no: the furthest Cat had been from home up till now has been up North to Carlisle (and it isn’t that alien a culture compared to London!) It seems more that he’s preparing for the big shift in his music, waiting for his big break to America and feeling that he’s outgrown the first phase of life and what it has left. He is, after all, in the habit of attending parties with the rich and famous in this era and desperate to do more with his life, to see more of the world. He’s also just realised that this isn’t all it could be: though he’s climbed to the ‘peak’ of success in commercial terms [32] ‘The View From The Top Can Be Oh So Very Lonely…’  Far from being a realistic goal to achieve and strive for, it’s turned out to be a red herring, one whose only gift is to reveal so many other more interesting and fulfilling roads down below. The only question was how to get there…
Actually fate will decide for Cat and it will all come crashing back down to earth, as a later album title has it, with Cat finding his world getting very narrow instead. Confined not only to a hospital bed but a hospital bed in the very restrictive city he thought he’d just escaped, dying from TB, must have been a colossal blow for a kid who was about to come of age and turn twenty-one (we’re not quite sure on the timings, but it seems likely that he was at least ill for his milestone birthday when traditionally youngsters set out to see the world – or at least they did until the credit crunch ruined that for a generation; possibly he was already deathly ill). Cat has nowhere physically to go and is literally stuck. However once he got better the music flowed from him as he learned the very vital life lesson that is still infusing his music now: you don’t physically have to go somewhere to ‘grow’ if you can mentally go there instead.
‘Mona Bone Jakon’ has shifted everything. Well nearly: there is still one last Cat Stevens song about a physical place to listen to: [47] ‘Katmandu’. This place is a much more spiritual retreat than the one in ‘Ceylon’, however, a mystical place that’s more about the thoughts and experiences Cat will have there. It sounds to me like a wish fulfilment: Cat still hadn’t been abroad yet and was maybe planning a holiday in some balmy spiritual place when he got sick; having already written about Sri Lanka he then goes for another place on his list, the capital of Nepal. Another step off on his journey from the physical to spiritual realms, perhaps, Cat sings that ‘soon I’ll be seeing you’ and imagining all the things he might be learning about the world if he were well enough to go. ‘Slow night, treat me right, until I go’ he sighs while asking for faith for the first time in song, to escape ‘Satan’s tree’. The ‘Mona’ album also notably ends on [50] ‘Lilywhite’, a return to songs about a mythical road and the first time that Cat equates it squarely with a metaphor for his life path (that settled it then: ‘The Long and Winding Road’, though recorded in 1969, had just become a big hit when this album was being written). ‘Back on the mended road I pause’ Cat sings, reaching out with his hand ‘to touch the wheel’, reflecting over this difficult phase in his life before turning back and getting on with life the way he was before he was so drastically interrupted.
‘Tea For The Tillerman’ is the album with the most places to chart on our map. The [61] Title Track, for instance, is about asking people to be kind and provide succour for those on a journey, because journeys are hard. [51] ‘Where Do The Children Play?’ is one of Cat’s most literal songs (‘gee, why are they tearing down so many children’s playgrounds?’) but it also sounds like a man whose seen a bit more of life and wants a bit more ‘fun’ in it. For all his intellectual traits, Cat is still a big kid at heart according to those who know him (he does take part in many school assemblies at his Islamia Primary school back home in London for starters) – this song sounds like a comment from someone on a life path that things got too serious too quickly to bear. [53] ‘Wild World’ is a warning from someone whose seen a bit of life too: it’s the opposite of [8] ‘I See A Road’ with Cat waiting anxiously at home for a loved one out there in the big world, afraid of what might happen to them to throw them off life’s path. [55] ‘Miles From Nowhere’ is the ultimate Cat Stevens worrying song. A tale of a journey through the afterlife, here Cat worries about what might happen when the ‘road’ literally ends. Where will he go? What will he do? Eventually the song picks itself up, dusts itself off and figures that without a road to follow at last ‘I can take my time’. It’s notable, though, that Heaven is for him still a physical goal, somewhere he has to travel to (perhaps through more than one lifetime back on Earth so that he can ‘earn’ it).
The big one, though, is [59] ‘On The Road To Find Out’ in which Cat tells us for the first time that the ‘road’ is very much a spiritual quest. Driven by curiosity and a thirst for knowledge, Cat leaves a ‘happy home’ where he was comfortable ‘with the aim to clear my mind out’. The road is at first busy and bright, full of ‘rowdy kids’ (surely a reference to his ‘pop star’ years) and lots of people who assume they know where the path he seeks lies and want to give him directions. The way gets hard though, his path blocked by snow and ice and he thinks about turning back, while the clock is ticking down. Eventually he finds that he’s alone, ‘hoping that someone will miss me’ and afraid that he’s made no impact on the world. By the end, though, he’s found the answer he was seeking and realised that he didn’t even have to go that far for it – the answer was inside his head all the time. ‘The answer lies within’ he yells, uncharacteristically for Cat, ‘so why not take a look now? Kick out the Devil’s sin and pick up a good book now!’ What’s interesting, knowing what we do of Cat’s future path, is the assumption many people have made that this is a religious text. The Bible is called ‘The Good Book’ by many people – and yet that’s not what Cat is saying here. He says ‘a good book’, meaning there are more than one. He may be thinking more than one religious books to read or he may not be thinking religion at all and means philosophical books to get people thinking (he isn’t, yet, anywhere near the stage of his religious conversion and is still declaring himself an ‘ex Catholic searching for answers like everyone else’ in interviews of the period).
Interestingly there are no ‘road’ references on perhaps Cat’s most famous album ‘Teaser and The Firecat’, though [65] ‘The Wind’ makes a comeback, the mysterious unseen force that keeps driving him on. Cat is still a wanderer without a set destination wondering ‘where I’ll end up only God really knows’, letting ‘my music take me where my heart wants to go’. By the time of next album ‘Catch-Bull At Four’ he’s more concerned about growing stationary. The title of [77] ‘Sitting’ alone gives you an idea of how far he thinks he’s come on his quest since the last album, even if the album opens with the pained cry ‘Oh I’m on my way, I know I am!’ He’s frustrated by where his spiritual quest has taken him, with a pained middle eight asking ‘if I’ll make it to the waterside, will I even find a boat or something?’ (imagery in many religions for death, which can only be reached by boat) and sighing that he’s truly and utterly lost, that ‘life is a maze of doors that only open from the side you’re on’. Kicking himself for ever walking at all, he turns on himself ‘Keep pushing hard boy otherwise you’re going to end up where you started from!’
Interestingly, too, this is the first album for three that has a song obviously set in the ‘real world’ too with an actual postcode, although [82] ‘18th Avenue (Kansas City Nightmare)’ is a very esoteric song. It really does sound like a nightmare, a surreal impression of life full of metaphor that feels like Cat trying to work out what a dream means that he’s just had. Realising that he’s been biting his tongue too long out of fear and paranoia Cat whispers ‘don’t let me go down!’, perhaps meaning that he’s been pushed back to Earth after having his head in spiritual heights for so very long. This ‘path is dark and borderless’, one he knows he shouldn’t have travelled down and he only feels better when the place is in his rear view mirror, checking his bags in at the airport (is this a spiritual ‘plane’ that will take him back to the Heavens?) Just what was Cat doing in 1972? Something he didn’t feel good about by the sound of it, admitting that he’s reached a cul-de-sac. Interestingly this song is followed immediately by [83] ‘Freeing Steel’ in which Cat feels himself physically crashing back into the real world (‘Though my body’s back I feel it can’t be real’). Suddenly he’s back loving physical pleasures, such as food that’s gone cold instead of the nourishment he was enjoying (‘A cold plate of meat and cold potatoes too, what’s a soul to do?’), his body ‘tied up’ and restricted by some mysterious force. ‘I’m only human and the Earth is where I belong’ he sighs, apparently turning his back on ‘the path’. It may also be significant that this troubled album ends with a physical place again – but one that used to be and which now only exists in [86] ‘Ruins’, a reminder perhaps that Cat isn’t going to get back to where he used to live in the physical plane at all. Maybe he’d better set out on that quest after all?
The next album finds his exiled, cut off from the spiritual path he was following and the earthly realm he used to know. Though named for Cat’s move to Brazil for the rather Earthly reason of paying less income tax, ‘Foreigner’ is about being cut off from the rest of the world in more ways than that. Cat sounds lost throughout, helpless, looking for answers on five troubled songs about life being crueller and more complicated than he thought it was. The side-long [878] ‘Foreigner Suite’ insists on telling us that Cat is ‘now over to that Sunnyside road’ and it appears for a time that Cat has discovered his calling. What he was really searching for was a ‘path towards your door’ to quote the Paul McCartney song, someone ‘who love you just for who you are, really are!’ Convinced he’s found the path, Cat and a gospel choir intone ‘Come on, its freedom calling!’ but he can’t convince us like the old days – he can’t even convince himself. ‘You can live in the largest house, have seven apartments too!’ he bawls at us, but if it’s down the wrong end of town then forget it; he’s rather be homeless and on the ‘right’ path. Though the love of his life has ‘just walked through my door’ and he was so happy a few minutes ago he leaves her behind, kicking her heels – he can’t sit still, not with so much of the world to discover, back to where he was in his teenage years. ‘When you’re with me, boy it chokes my mind!’ is Cat’s less than kind response to her loving. By the end of the song, though, he’s back where he started, looking for love. Or maybe he’s just looking for the wrong kind…
A mere two songs later Cat is trapped again, [90] ‘How Many Times?’ asking a series of rhetorical questions amounting to the same thing – ‘How long must I see this same old view?’ Cat’s had these dreams, found them wanting and not yet found anything to replace them with. A sad Cat then splits himself in three across next album ‘Buddha And The Chocolate Box’, perhaps the ‘Holy Trinity’ of the physical, spiritual and afterlife worlds. [95] ‘Sun/C79’ is the physical, the hotel room where Cat had a life-changing event with a girl (is this where he lost his virginity?) repeated like a mantra to his own children who are asking ‘why are we here?’ Cat can’t answer them – the path has gone cold – but he knows physically why they were there, after a night of passion that he still remembers and which stirs up powerful feelings to this day (it’s worth noting that Cat’s first child wasn’t born until 1979 and to this day there’s never ever been even the whiff of a paternity suit against him – even in his wayward teens). Songs like [97] ‘Jesus’ find Cat considering spiritual matters again while [94] ‘Oh Very Young’ realises that the physical world is no longer enough for him, that anything there is temporary, due to fade ‘like your daddy’s best jeans’ and patching up a body when it’s worn out just makes the break harder when it comes – it’s in the spiritual realm where lasting good can be done. [96] ‘Ghost Town’ and [101] ‘Home In The Sky’, meanwhile, return to the ‘Miles From Nowhere’ thought, Cat wondering about where life might take him after he dies, one a comedy full of all his favourite film stars having a ball, one a tragedy imagining him pulled from the Earth too soon before all his work is done (‘Come the morning I’ll be far from here, slowly rising in another sphere’).
‘Buddha’ is a much more ‘imaginary’ album than previous Cat Stevens albums, but it takes another whole leap of imagination again to wrap your head around ‘Pythagorean Theory Tale’ ‘Numbers’, a concept album about a land inhabited by numbers who all have their own distinct personalities. The theme is that the world they live in need each other to work – only by putting their characteristics together can they create ‘new’ numbers made up of two, three or more figures. This is interesting because it seems to be the opposite of what Cat was saying back in 1970 or even as recently as 1973, that any spiritual path taken has to be taken ‘alone’. It might be significant too that this nice safe cosy world of nine people is interrupted forever when ‘J-Zero’ arrives, the town renegade and black sheep of the universe who works for nothing and lives to his own rules. Seemingly having nothing, actually he has more than anyone around him because he’s realised there’s more to this life than riches and material wealth, realising that there is a whole new ‘layer’ of numbers out there that the others haven’t realised yet because they haven’t been looking for it. Cat is, you suspect, a Jzero himself. The quest is back on!  Notably, though, this album’s penultimate track pulls the opposite trick: speaking as ‘Monad’, the city’s ruler who thought he knew how the world worked and who is now lost and frightened, he longs for the safe pull of home. ‘Forever your lamp will burn’ sings the ruler whose now realised how many different levels of existence there, ‘Would that you’d learn!’
Soon after the release of ‘Numbers’ comes that infamous near-drowning experience whose path ends up at a mosque, London’s Regents Park Mosque to be exact. Cat is treated with suspicion by many when he asks to join, but knows he’s in the right place when the secretary takes him by the arm and shows him all the wonderful things she sees in this religion and talks excitedly about him having found his true path ‘at last’. Cat falls for her and they’ll be married by 1979. Cat loses interest in his work immediately, skipping his usual annual album and padding out his contract with a Greatest Hits album and the oddball single-only rock and roll cover (the first of only two on any Cat Stevens release) [102] ‘Another Saturday Night’, a tale of warning about how earthly pleasures after payday can result in some pretty nasty hangovers the next morning. The next proper record ‘Izitso?’ interestingly goes back to the physical world, even though Cat must have been dying to express the spiritual ideas that have just come to him (a la George Harrison). Both [118] ‘Kypros’ (the Greek name for Cyprus) and [122] ‘Sweet Jamaica’ are real places again – places that Cat really has visited this time. This is followed on final album ‘Back To Earth’ (a significant title? Well, it’s an odd one for an artist whose just found the quest he had been searching for – is Cat forcing himself back to Earth to make this last album and free himself of his recording contract?) on which we end up in New York this time on [133] ‘New York Times’. As the title demonstrates all too literally, this isn’t a spiritual song so much as a journalistic one. Unable to sing about his new life experiences, Cat is taking most of his direction from what is in the newspapers. Once his contract is up, though, Cat is free at last.
In retrospect his first comment to journalists that ‘I needed a break – I was fed up of being on the road’ is an interesting one. Cat only ever undertook one full tour (as well as a short package tour alongside other acts). That was as long ago as 1976 and far from being on the road the whole time Cat had only ever performed a few small shows a year (his busiest period is 1974 when he performed forty-five; to put that in context The Who were having a rest year that year in the wake of Quadrophenia and they still performed forty-four!) Did he mean, instead, that he was tired of being out on a metaphorical road? Was he tired of relaying his discoveries back to us when ‘we’ weren’t responding the right way? (A common complaint of both ‘Catch Bull’ and ‘Foreigner’) Was Cat aware that we all have our own paths to follow and he shouldn’t be talking about his? Either way, here is where the road ended for Cat. Those who had followed him on earliest songs wondered half-seriously if his path would lead him to be a political figure, a fighter for social justice or even a hermit or whether he would just carry on writing songs for a living (some even wondered if he’d return to being a cartoonist, his planned stock in trade). Instead it led him to be a teacher, founding a school for Muslim students after discovering to his horror that there wasn’t one in London to send his children to. Typically hands-on Cat became involved at every level – the assemblies, religious study, fundraiser, he even filled in as a teacher when someone was ill or went missing as well as taking on most of the secretarial duties. Many of his fans assumed his ‘retirement’ was from everything – but actually Cat was busier than he ever was.
Until 9/11. A brush with the media in the 1980s had convinced him that the world wasn’t accepting of him yet (asked if Salman Rushdie’s controversial book ‘Satanic Verses’ broke a religious law he replied yes it did and that under Islamic law being rude about The Prophet Muhammad would inevitably result in a Fatwah; he made no comment on his own opinion, just his religion’s). However after 9/11 Cat was in a unique position. He was the only Muslim that many Christians could name. he was certainly the only one who had been a household name before taking up the religion (though you could argue a case for Richard Thompson and Pentangle bassist Danny Thompson – no relation – neither were household names the way Cat had been). The Western world was suddenly scared of what they took to be every Muslim and saw threats everywhere – on the tube, on the street corner, every big congregation of buildings. Cat knew that things were more complicated than this, that the religion is itself named after the Arabic for ‘Peace’ and that the perpetrators of 9/11 were radical extremists, the Christian equivalents of the first Christian Crusaders. As a liberal Muslim he felt he owed it to his community to show the world that they didn’t have to be feared.
Hence the come back, slowly at first until the first full album ‘An Other Cup’ in 2006. An odd and confusing work, part pop album, part religious text, it left fans scratching their heads. Cat also seemed to have forgotten all about his old metaphors: on the whole album the only reference to spiritual quests paths or roads is the comment that Cat hated being out in big cities late at night because he didn’t feel safe (** [  ] ‘Heaven- Midday (City After Dark)’). However sequel ‘Roadsinger’ gave us lots. The [ ] title track, for instance, has Cat physically leaving his home at the end of a path to go back down well travelled paths and tell the people he meets along the way how to get there. In it he travels not by foot but in a beaten old camper van with room enough for us all to get on board (of his past songs only [74] ‘Peace Train’ can compare and Cat wasn’t driving that one!) A pied piper followed mostly by children, Cat tries to remember what life used to be like and makes allowance for the fact that he’s ‘speaking another language’, but he still fulfils his duty, sets up in the market stall (perhaps the same one in [6] ‘Portobello Road’ where he started? So I would like to think anyway!) and starts to sing.
Cat/Yusuf also recorded another song that didn’t make the album but caused quite a stir all the same. [  ] ‘Boots and Sand’ is, by Cat Stevens, a most withering and sarcastic song about narrow minded people with limited world views. It might help to understand what this track is doing in his back catalogue if you know that he wrote it the night that he was blocked from an American airplane, denied access for his links with his religion. Though America backtracked and he was later greeted with open arms, it was deeply embarrassing at the point when Cat was trying to spread love and understanding about his religion to the world and it meant the premature end to an intended world tour. Here it might be significant that this song too is a journey, almost a pastiche of Cat’s old songs. Here he doesn’t yet have enough money for a camper van, reduced to merely ‘boots and sand’ but still walking firmly towards America, ‘the promised land’, ‘the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, where all your records turn to Gold’. Told ‘you’re on our no song list!’ Cat gets flown home ‘to the lower world’ , picking himself up by tracing back his steps to the path he was on as a side-section gets cut off from him and he’s ‘back on the long long road, one bag and a song I wrote, boots and sand’. Cat’s next record, his third since his comeback, largely ducks the idea of paths but this rather grumpy record (largely about how fans can’t keep pace with him) might be significantly titled ‘tell ‘Em I’m Gone!’ After that we turn full circle to the near-present day, with the hodgepodge of outtakes, abandoned songs and re-makes ‘The Laughing Apple’ that features a re-recording of [18b] ‘The Northern Wind’. Cat, by now his voice reduced by age to a hoarse whisper (hopefully put on for effect), is still buffeted about by the winds of change and yet he is still curious to see what happens next.
What will be next on the path? Will Yusuf quietly retire again? Will he return to only making religious albums after the (relative) commercial of his last two? Will there ever be a journey? Or has Cat indeed found it already (and has since 1979?) The road is long, with many a winding turn, but Cat in many ways closed the circle in 2014 by recording The Beatles song that so reflects his own style. Though we couldn’t travel the whole path with him and Cat may well still be ‘on the road to find out’, it’s been wonderful to get so many postcards from him on the way about where he’s going, where he’s been and how the journey made him feel. His whole catalogue feels in retrospect like a sat-nav, a source of comfort to seekers who share the same or similar paths and we can listen to it and take advice as we want to, but it can’t tell us where to go or live our lives for us. It’s been one hell of a journey, from the capitalist branch of [2] ‘Matthew and Son’ through to the [  ] ‘Olive Hill’ (the lone destination on last song ‘The Laughing Apple’) and hopefully it isn’t over yet. Cat sounds like there’s quite a lot about the world that he hasn’t quite found out yet…


'Matthew and Son' (1967)

'New Masters' (1968)

'Mona Bone Jakon' (1970)

'Tea For The Tillerman' (1970)

‘Teaser and the Firecat’ (1971)

'Back To Earth' (1978)

'An Other Cup' (2006)


'Tell 'Em I'm Gone' (2014)

‘The Laughing Apple’ (2017)

Surviving TV Appearances 1967-2015

The Best Unreleased Recordings 1969-2009

Non-Album Recordings 1966-2014

Compilations, Box sets and Alun Davies LPs Part One 1963-1990

Compilations, Box Sets and Religious Works Part Two 1995-2012 

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