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Monday, 5 June 2017
Cat Stevens/Yusuf: Surviving TV Appearances 1967-2015
You can now buy 'One Day At A Time - The Alan's Album Archives Guide To The Music Of Cat Stevens' in e-book form by clicking here!
Writing these AAA articles on old TV clips often feels like somebody's life flashing before your eyes (in contrast to the albums where they tend to sound timeless, as long as you don't look too hard at the album covers!) That's especially true of Cat Stevens, who goes from a fresh-faced clean-cut eighteen-year-old dressed in frilly shirts to a bearded philosopher in his early 20s to the often surprisingly attired man of the late 70s to Cat's return as the white-bearded Yusuf. There may be a quarter century gap in these clips, but it still feels like an 'arc' somehow. Despite modern-day opinions of Yusuf as some form of recluse, he's been very busy on the world stage and has been almost as active in the eight years 'back' in music than the fourteen he was active originally.
Sadly that's also because Cat has been hit particularly badly by the decisions made in the space-restricted no-repeats TV archives era of the 1960s and 1970s that's plagued all of our vintage bands. Take Cat's thirteen known appearances on Top Of The Pops between 1966 and 1972 for instance; sadly it's thought all of them have been wiped. The same goes too for perhaps Cat's highest profile appearance on 'Juke Box Jury'. Chances are too a lot of the early Cat's appearances flogging his guts round European television have been lost (so hurrah to French and German TV networks for at least hanging on to some of it!) Cat, characteristically, never really took to the music video like many of his peers did either, preferring the music to speak for itself (although there are three charming exceptions). There are, though, quite a few concerts out there to watch. This is, as usual, not a complete list then - it is, instead, as-complete-a-list-as-we-can-get-it, with all the clips that are known to have survived the ages somewhere (because it's quite hard to review something you've never actually seen as I'm sure you can understand!) It probably isn't even a complete list of those, given that especially in recent years Cat/Yusuf has been happy to talk to anybody, in any country, about pretty much anything: you can pretty much guarantee that there'll be something here I've missed out accidentally simply because I've never heard of it and it was only ever seen once, late at night, on some random channel in Outer Mongolia. By all means write in and tell us what we're missing if you think of something!
Sadly there's only ever been three official Cat Stevens/Yusuf DVDs to date (and we haven't included 'Majikat' here because, strictly speaking, it was never really shown on TV (it's in our 'DVD' column instead!), which has left rather a lot of our list officially unavailable (we'll tell you where you can get hold of clips at the end of the paragraph, for the few that you can!) Do not despair, though, dear readers because we've been on the road to find out what is out there - and there's a lot on Youtube especially. We've created our own playlist in fact, which you can access either by looking at the top of the page (if you're reading this on a website!) or by visiting
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL570E4D0EC8D082DE (alternatively, have a search for the 'Alan's Album Archives' page and have a look for 'AAA Playlist #27: Cat Stevens'). Not quite everything is there - and Yotube playlists have a habit of missing bits and pieces after a while, though we'll try and keep the page as up to date as we can - but there's enough to keep even the biggest crazy cat lady going for a while. Bear in mind too, by the way, that few people ever took dates of transmission down so this list is at best a work in progress, where the order is vague and the track selection may be slightly different (although Cat always tend to plug his latest single, rather than old songs, so this is as good a guess as any!)
In the words of Cat himself, laughing at his pop star past, 'Mama mama mama, come see me on the TV!' ...
1.Pop2 (?) ('I Love My Dog' 'Matthew and Son' 'I'm Gonna Get Me A Gun' French TV 1967)
First up, an admission. I'm not totally certain what this show is, although it was definitely shown on French television and our old friend 'Pop2' seems the most likely candidate. Cat, looking cool and slightly twitchy in dark glasses, sings new vocals for his first three singles over a pre-recorded tape. Cat is deeply uncomfortable, on the stage all alone, and dances like he's having a stroke at one point but then his first (or at least a very early) TV performance must have been nerve wracking for someone still only eighteen. The backdrop too is minimal, with what looks like a bonkers attempt at a game of connect 4 in whitewash on the wall behind. 'I Love My Dog' mixes the swirl of harmonies over the instrumental break and ends, in the version that still exists in the vaults at least (it probably wasn't broadcast!) with a full ending that cuts Cat off mid-way through the word 'do-'. 'Umm, yeah!' grins an embarrassed Cat to polite applause. Cat seems more comfortable with 'Matthew and Son' (there is, of course, the possibility that this clip was filmed a few months later, though it seems to be from the same show) and has a whole routine where he starts off sitting at a table and walks round the studio passing lots of suitably bored looking extras. Perhaps to save himself from being puffed, this time Cat simply mimes to the record. The opening's a bit odd, though, 'Who are you?' asks the presenter in French to which Cat shyly replies 'I'm sorry, I don't understand!' The presenter then reaches inside his jacket as if reaching for a name-tag, with Cat quite genuinely looking alarmed and shoo-ing him away! By the time of 'I'm Gonna Get Me A Gun' Cat is a lot more comfortable and if anything goes a little OTT on a Tom Jones-like mimed performance in front of the same confusing white lines. Then again, Cat goes more Harry Secombe and Pickwick when he starts throwing back his thumbs on the line 'I'M gonna get me a gun'. Actually I can see why this clip has never been released on anything, which is easily the most embarrassing of Cat's early career. Still fun for us, though!
2.Beat Club #1 possibly #2 ('Granny' 'Matthew and Son' German TV 1967)
Meanwhile, over in Germany, a frilly-sleeved Cat is miming to both the A and B sides of his second single. Cat sings his only performance of 'Granny!' like an old trouper, despite the budget of Beat Club being so slow he's stuck out in the audience! There's an awkward moment when the camera cuts to where the audience really are - dancing awkwardly in the middle of the set, unsure quite what tempo this quirky little song comes in - but soon we've cut back to Cat performing finger-puppets with his hand. Late from the same show, the audience are back in their seats and Cat's in the middle of them. He gets up, still singing, and walks to the end of his row - only for his microphone wire to get tagged on the end seat, leaving him tugging while trying to sing before the bored-looking girl at the end comes to his rescue!
Despite the hang-ups, Cat turns in a pro performance, now far more comfortable in his own skin. It's just a shame about the audience, who look so depressed and sad they look as if they've been condemned to death or something...
3.Beat Club #2 ('I'm Gonna Get Me A Gun' 'Come On And Dance' German TV 1967)
Perhaps that's what inspired this eighteen-year-old future Muslim fundamentalist to write a song about guns, who knows? This time Cat's on a stage and has 'made it' enough to have his own name written on the curtains behind him in huge print. Cat's having fun with this performance, with all the akwardness of the French TV now gone and the camera can barely keep up as he bounces around like a Cat-in-the-box. The only known performance of B-side 'Come On And Dance', meanwhile, really is a performance, taken at a slightly slower lick and with Stevens' vocal up high. There are some entertaining clips of things from Cat's point of view in front of a huge TV audience, but ironically having to remember his words means Cat keeps far more still for this song about the need to dance. This time only half the audience looks bored and suicidal, so it's an improvement - of sorts.
4.Le 1Er Festival ('The First Cut Is The Deepest' French TV 1967)
Long thought lost and returned to the archives not long ago (albeit in a rather scruffy condition), this is Cat's equally scruffy performance of his hit song for PP Arnold for the French equivalent of the San Marino Song Contest. Acts were being judged on song, not performance - and it's just as well because Cat's singing flat and sounds like he's got a cold. This clip is important, though, not just because it's the only clip we have of him singing one of his best known numbers but because it's the only clip we have of him being backed by his tour band 'Zeus', who despite the Greek name (and Cat's own ancestry) were actually British (the guitarist Mike Hopkins later joined Mungo Jerry). Sadly we don't know where Cat came, except that he didn't win, but at least he's earning enough money by this stage for a thick fur coat.
5.Beat Club #3 ('A Bad Night' German TV 1968)
Cat's last performance before the TB illness that would change his life and his career, this psychedelic master-class is a sort of 'halfway house'. The biggest change is that Cat has a beard! Not the natural one he'll grow later but a sort of half Van Dyke beard - as far as I know it's the only time he ever had it! Cat looks quite different with it and behaves quite differently too, standing stock still at times. Could it be that the illness and all those parties are finally catching up with him? The song is called 'A Bad Night' after all...In case you were wondering how the TV studios re-create the psychedelic ending? Disappointingly I'm afraid - the monochrome clip has Cat waving his arms in the air before the cameraman zooms in-and-out on a spotlight!
6.Melody ('Lady D'arbanville' ? TV 1970)
Cat's return finds him far more how people will remember him, performing with an acoustic guitar, friend Alun Davies and a full flowing beard and locks. This lovely comeback song is treated to a nice live performance, one that's missing all the trimmings (such as the xylophone-celeste part) but still sounds highly impressive. Cat looks the picture of health despite his recent problems. Suddenly, though, he appears to get 'eaten' by a giant cube that appears out of nowhere and everything turns blue and 'phasey' - just when we seemed to be in with a chance of getting out first 'normal' Cat appearance...
7.Tienerkalnken ('Maybe You're Right' Belgian TV August 1970)
Regular readers may know about 'Jazzbillsen', a regular live 'festival' that was a regular feature of Belgian TV shows throughout the 1970s. Despite the name, it had moved on to pop and rock by this period and presumably Cat performed plenty more songs though I've only seen one clip so far - and an edited one at that. Luckily, it's a good one, with Cat singing one of his best songs from 'Mona Bone Jakon' you don't hear often, with the arrangement changed from piano to acoustic guitar. Nice, up until the moment when Cat starts singing in falsetto anyway.
8.Pop2 ('Lady D'arbanville' 'Wild World' 'Katmandu' 'Maybe You're Right' French TV November 1970)
One of the longer videos in this list, by the end of 1970 and 'Tea For The Tillerman' Cat had a whole quarter-hour segment of France's premiere pop show to himself. This is a glorious performance, with Cat and Alun Davies now fully believing in what they're doing and Cat's performance is rarely better. Cat's even confident enough to wear lime green trousers! 'Lady D'arbanville' features much guitar-banging to cover up for the fact that the pair don't have a drummer with them, while the first performance of 'Wild World' is particularly strong and different without the piano there. Cat is pleased enough to ask his guitarist for a cigarette at the end of the song! The earliest surviving TV interview is, sadly, overdubbed with a French translation but is typical Cat as he's asked about being 'labelled' and goes off on a long argument about people being 'trapped in a box...we must make our own home a pleasure, we should have friends, try not to have enemies and stay true to yourself'. He then goes on to add that the whole point of life 'is to feel fulfilled' and that 'music is ok, but it's not a way of life'. How those words will come back to haunt him... A lovely 'Katmandu' follows, played by Cat solo while Alun appears to fall asleep, and Cat performs it in a much lower and eccentric vocal pitch. Finally, an oddly cheery 'Maybe You're Right' rounds the set off nicely, a sweet song well sung. One of the better clips in this list.
9.Father and Son (Music Video 1970)
Oddly the first of only two Cat Stevens music videos promotes a song that was only ever released as a single in a small handful of countries (not the UK or US) long after the 'Tillerman' album! It's a simple but moving clip, with Cat effectively duetting with himself in a turquoise-painted room. We could have done without the clichéd shots of a pipe-smoking old man to interrupt the flow, though. Nor do I understand why the old man is playing chess throughout the song.
10.BBC In Concert ('Moonshadow' 'Tuesday's Dead' 'Wild World' 'How Can I Tell You?' 'Maybe You're Right' 'I Love My Dog' 'Bitterblue' 'Changes IV' 'Into White' 'Father and Son' UK TV 1971)
Cat's in full flow for this popular gig too, which features a whole 43 minutes of music, cut down to a half hour for the broadcast version in 1971 but since repeated unedited. It's one of the better entries in the BBC2 series, with Cat joking that his songs are 'so old!' before performing a one-year-old 'Maybe You're Right' and a five-year old surprise revival of 'I Love My Dog'. Cat loses his place in the middle of 'Bitterblue' and sheepishly has to start again (this song didn't make final transmission!) but otherwise gives a brilliant performance, highlighted by a movingly mounrful 'Maybe You're Right' which this time is back on the piano, with cat playing. A chilling 'How Can I Tell You?' and a swinging 'Into White' are also highlights. Sadly not available officially yet (when are the best of these 'In Concert' sets doing to come out on DVD?!?) but regularly repeated.
11.Los Angeles Concert ('Moonshadow' 'On The Road To Find Out' 'Where Do The Children Play?' 'Wild World' 'Miles From Nowhere' 'Longer Boats' 'Father and Son' 'Hard Headed Woman' US TV June 1971)
This set, however, is officially out on DVD as 'Tea For The Tillerman - Live' in reference to the fact that so many songs from that album are performed (though 'Moonshadow', of course, is previewed here before it's appearance on 'Teaser And The Firecat'). It's the earliest official release you can buy and while short on DVD at around half an hour, it's arguably the best Cat Stevens DVD out there. Bass and conga player Larry Steele has now joined Cat and Alun for some typically confident performances from this era, although this set is perhaps not quite up to the BBC standard. There are some nice performances of some rare songs, though, with a folky and sparser 'On The Road To Find Out' and a 'Where Do The Children Play?' with a lovely long opening the highlights. Sadly 'Miles From Nowhere' is clumsily arranged and poorly mixed and 'Longer Boats' still sounds pretty stupid. Still, another good show.
12.Granada In Concert ('Tuesday's Dead' 'Where Do The Children Play?' UK TV 1971)
Cat begins slowing down his promotion duties now, sensing that he's as big as he wants to get. This appears to be his only promotion for 'Teaser and The Firecat' with a performance of one new song and an old one. Cat starts with a rambling introduction to 'Tuesday's Dead', explaining that he had no idea what the song was about until long afterwards when it came 'true'. It's a good performance, though, unlike 'Children' where Cat is struggling with an odd mix that adds a lot of echo to his voice. Cat is now out of his famous shirts and into a red jumper, while the trio have been joined by drummer Gerry Conway.
13.GTK Interview #1 (Australian TV August 1972)
Effectively a press conference to promote 'Catch-Bull At Four' and a four month long tour (sadly unfilmed), Cat is on surprisingly chatty form and gives long answers to all his questions ('Ask me some nice ones!' he giggles at the start). He says that he's called 'Cat' because he's 'very independent...it's happened all the way through my life, so I found myself alone'. Cat says that pop stardom was 'frightening', that 'revealing' the real Cat 'as honestly as I can' is 'an obligation' and that 'I'm putting myself on trial for myself'. Asked if he stays in control of his new backing band Zeus he grins 'yeah...absolute!' Cat's more serious as he tells the interviewer that being in rock bands are often a substitute for families and friends. He adds that 'Miles From Nowhere' felt like his breakthrough song and that it taught him to 'be true to yourself'. He ends 'I've never thought of anything else I could do - if there was something then I would do it!' and rather hilariously 'I'd hate for people to still be listening to this in fifty years' time as I feel such a part of now!' Sadly the only copy of this I've ever seen is mute for long parts of the questions, so that only part of it can be heard - presumably it wasn't that way when it was broadcast!
14.Teaser and The Firecat (Animation Short 1973)
It took two years for this five minute short based on the album cover of Cat's 'Teaser' front cover to come out, by which time it felt slightly out of place. Spike Milligan, having turned down the chance to narrate The Small Faces' 'Ogden's Nut Gone Flake', does the honours here and the result is all rather madcap and goonish, not really that suitable for Cat's drawings. The story's a bit odd too, as owner and cat try to catch the 'moon' across a Yellow Submarine style landscape to the strain of 'Moonshadow'. It's nice to see characters you've known and loved actually moving though and the animators do a good job of making Teaser 'move' the way it always felt like he should from the album cover. It's a shame that some of Cat's other illustrations didn't come to life like this as 'Buddha and the Chocolate Box' in particular would have been fun to see! This cartoon has appeared as a bonus feature on two official DVD releases: 'Tea For The Tillerman - Live' and 'Majikat'.
15.Foreigner Live ('Morning Has Broken' 'Foreigner Suite' '18th Avenue' 'Hard Headed Woman' US TV Special 1973)
By now Cat is in exile - well, for tax purposes anyway - and heads from his new Brazilian home to America to promote his latest album 'Foreigner'. The title track is given a rare (unique?) performance, edited down from the full twenty minutes to the six minute 'middle' section. It's a good performance, but the echoey TV studio isn't the best place for it and without the ten minutes to get there this song sounds a little longwinded and flat. 'Morning Has Broken' - oddly receiving its first surviving performance two years after release - sounds more comfortable and 'Hard Headed Woman' is as strong as ever, though the highlight is Catch Bull's '18th Avenue' which goes from jolly and sweet to dark and terrifying in the blink of an eye with a simpler arrangement that works far better than the over-polished record. There may well have been other songs performed in this special, but I've never come across a full list or even a mention of this show anywhere.
16.GTK Interview #2 (Australian TV 1974)
Another interview, this time promoting 'Buddha'. Cat seems tired and fed up by now, wearily saying that 'Foreigner' was a 'mistake' although he felt it all at the time and that sometimes he has to consider the public's views above his own. He doesn't seem that convinced by this, though, and adds that he's 'concerned with furthering my growth' from this point anyway. 'It looks like I'm getting older but I feel like I'm getting younger!' jokes a then-twenty-six-year-old Cat, claiming that he's been 'responsible' for a while and that now 'I feel like a child again'.
17.BanApple Gas (Music Video 1976)
Cat's oddball ditty from 'Numbers' is not what I'd have chosen as the single but, hey ho, as at least we get what's surely one of the weirdest AAA music videos to look at instead. Cat plays the devil in the garden of Eden, offering a grumpy looking Adam and Eve 'Banapples'. Next Cat's in the supermarket trying to lure housewives into a 'blind taste test', before a 'Kesystone cops' robbery ensues. Finally, Cat wins at cards, trumping everyone's aces with five 'banapple' cards. Quite what this all means is left up to the viewer, although it seems likely that 'banapple' is Cat's dig at both drugs and consumerism and how it fools people into wanting more. Throughout all this Cat rocks a yellow-hat-with-cap look that's pretty unique too. Completely bonkers - and not a 'number' in sight!
18.Moonshadow (Animated Short 1977)
A re-issue of the 'Teaser and the Firecat' short with a few simple modifications, such as a shorter opening and end. This video was belatedly entered into the Fantastic Animation Festival and included on the film of all sixteen entries released into cinemas in 1977 alongside such memorably titled pieces as 'Bambi Meets Godzilla' and 'Superman and the Mechanical Monsters'.
19.(Remember) The Days Of The Old School Yard (Music Video 1977)
The most 'normal' of the Cat Stevens promos, this video features a clipped-hair-and-beard Cat apparently recording this song before his imagination drifts out to the school playgrounds outside. It all feels a bit 'Sesame Street' with its falsely-grinning kids and there aren't enough shots of Cat, but it illustrates the song quite well. That's Suzanne Lynch who duets with Cat in the middle of the song, who was married to Cat's bass player Bruce Lynch. There's a sweet ending where Cat asks the group of children what they think and they giggle 'nice triangle!' which probably wasn't quite what he was hoping for. He seems quite natural with them though.
20.Unicef - The Year Of The Child ('Child For A Day' December 1979)
Here we are, a year after the final LP with Cat's name on it for what will turn out to be Cat's last public appearance for 25 years. He'd been a big part of Unicef's 'Year Of The Child' event, recording his brother's song 'Child For A day' for his 'Back To Earth' LP and performing it again here with the help of David Essex while looking unrecognisable even from a couple of years earlier. Cat's going a little bald and looks like a bank manager, already growing into the look of a Muslim preacher (this is the first time he's announced onstage as 'Yusuf'), though his vocal is still nicely committed and this is as good a place to leave him as any. In fact in a nice bit of full-circle ness, Cat performs this song to a group of children sat in the audience, which is round about where we came in. The crowd give a huge burst of applause, clearly knowing that their odds of seeing Cat in public again are getting slim and Cat looks relieved to walk off, his responsibilities fulfilled. A sad clip in retrospect, notwithstanding the 'comebacks' that make up the rest of this list! Cat performed other songs at the show including 'The Wind' and 'Morning Has Broken', possibly others, but whilst these survive on audio they don't appear to have been televised and have been lost to the ages it seems.
21.Larry King Live (US TV 2004)
Yusuf breaks his silence to talk not about a new record but to put forward 'his side of the story' about being deported from America after 9/11. With 25 years' worth of living we haven't heard about Larry King starts by...asking him how he got the name 'Cat'. Yawn. As per usual he hasn't done his homework, unaware of Cat's Greek restaurant/Oxford Street upbringing. The questions include such classics as 'Do you write all your own material?' and 'who wrote the traditional hymn 'Morning Has Broken'? Yusuf's on good form, though, laughing that he adopted a song with religious overtones 'because that's the sort of thing I do' and filling Larry in on his unusual religious background, who ended up at a roman catholic school because it was the nearest, not because his parents were believers. He's particularly erudite talking about the slow process of becoming a Muslim after being given the Qu'ran by his brother David, that religion informed everything not just one compartment of his life and that it talked to him 'in the name of humanity everywhere, not just Arabs!'
22.Nobel Peace Prize Concert ('Peace Train' 2006)
'It's been a long time since I've been doing this kind of work!' says Cat at the start of his big return to music, agreeing to come back in honour of his friend Mohammad Yunus who won the prize that year for his good work offering loans to struggling families in poverty, writing many debts off in the process. Yusuf sings a track that he'd recently recorded in 'Muslim' form for one of his religious albums anyway but with an arrangement somewhere between that and the original record, with what is in the present circumstances a highly fitting song.
23.Yusuf's Cafe Session ('The Wind' 'Midday (Avoid City After Dark)' 'Don't Be Shy' 'Maybe There's A World' 'In The End' 'Where Do The Children Play?' 'The Little Ones' 'Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood' 'Heaven-Where True Love Goes' 'How Long?-Peace Train Blues' 'The Beloved' 'Father and Son' 'Wild World' (Zulu Version)' 'Peace Train' Concert 2007)
Yusuf reclaims his past, with his elder self choosing older material that reflects the changes in his life, dropping many of his previous standards from his set that don't really fit while breathing new life into old ones such as 'Don't Be Shy' from 'Harold and Maude' receiving it's concert debut here. Some songs work better than others - 'Father and Son' for instance, benefits from the slower, older delivery while a poignant 'Where Do The Children Play?' is the highlight of the set, the frustration at another fifty odd years of supposed progress that isn't progress at all when it leaves people behind inspiring a terrific vocal out of Yusuf. However a Zulu version of 'Wild World' is an odd idea that never quite works, while 'Peace Train' is way too slow as a blues and only marginally faster when performed as an encore. As for the songs from 'An Other Cup', sadly for the most part only the odd or the over-religious works are included here which all seem pretty heavy-going, with the exception of a delightfully intimate 'Maybe There's A World'. Not quite 'Tea For The Tillerman' then, but this all-night cafe meeting has its moments and is good opportunity to catch up with an old friend. Available on DVD, with an edited version being broadcast on television before release.
24.Thinkin' 'Bout You (Music Video 2009)
A sweet, simple video for a sweet, simple song with Yusuf and band performing in what looks to all intents and purposes like The Cavern, although it's probably just a similar smoky club. Cat's back to wearing the dark glasses again, for the first time since 1967 in a neat reminder of the first time he mimed to a song in his 'first' career.
25.Boots and Sand (Music Video 2009)
This second video, this time for a non-album single, is a second cartoon intercut with real life footage, more crudely drawn than 'Teaser and The Firecat', while Yusuf doesn't appear in the action himself except briefly in the middle of a crowd. The story tells the tale of Yusuf's being deported and features some great gags such as George Bush as a cowboy with pistols, a 'wanted' poster featuring a famous picture of Cat and a real 'no song list'. Unfortunately large parts of this video simply features Yusuf looking at goats. It's all a little odd, much like the song. That's Paul McCartney and Dolly Parton on rather shaky backing vocals, by the way.
26.Mayern, Munich ('Wild World' German TV July 2009)
Yusuf recalls meeting Peter Gabriel and performing at an AIDS benefit concert in South Africa for Nelson Mandela and arranging 'Wild World' for Zulu. What worked in Africa, though, falls flat as a pancake in Germany where Yusuf censors himself by missing out the word 'girl', perhaps because he's no longer singing to that age range anymore.
27.Bayern 3 ('All Kinds Of Roses' German TV 2009)
Still in Germany, Yusuf plays a new song from 'Roadsinger' about 'finding happiness in our hearts'. It's a nice version, but perhaps a little too similar to the record.
28.Live From Abbey Road ('Thinking 'Bout You' 'Just Another Night' UK TV 2009)
Yusuf's on defensive form as he becomes the latest AAA member to plug his new album with a mini-concert from Abbey Road Studios, which EMI had just started loaning out to bands and TV studios after some pretty poor financial years. Yusuf seems uncomfortable and lacking in energy, though his singing voice is fine and a surprise revival of his final single from 1978 )in some parts of the world anyway) 'Just Another Night' is a real highlight, all the more poignant as an older man now tells us of his conversion and feeling such strong emotions 'though for you it was just another night'.
29.The Rally To Restore Sanity/Fear ('Peace Train' US TV 2010)
This is weird! Ozzy Osbourne plays 'Crazy Train' at a rally for peace before he complains that his song's 'going off the rails!' and he invites Yusuf on to sing a rather messy 'Peace Train' to put things right. Though I know that's not in keeping with the vibe of the moment, 'Crazy Train' actually sounded better, with Yusuf terribly raw and rough. Two Saturday Night Live presenters join in the 'comedy', which probably worked better on paper than it does live here.
30.Skavlan (Swedish TV 2011)
An interesting quarter-hour interview for Swedish TV. Yusuf talks about the usual things -his name changes, his conversion - with a stoic smile. He throws in a few new anecdotes though, such as his TB years in hospital that made him 'aim a little bit higher and wonder about what happens next' and the fact that he left the music business not just through his religion but because his father was poorly and needed looking after. He adds that he was worried about his fans, realising that many wouldn't want to follow him down this particular path, what an opportunity his 'retirement' gave to all his detractors and how surprised he is that so many people have waited to hear from him. Asked what he thinks now about Cat Stevens he jokes 'I liked the curls - I wouldn't mind getting those back!'
31.Adam Hills In Gordon Street Tonight (Australian TV 2012)
Comedian Adam Hills' chat show is somewhere between a genuine talk show of the old brigade, like Michael Parkinson or David Frost's, and a comedy spoof like 'The Kumars At no 42' (this show is also set on a fictional street). Yusuf is on to promote his Australian musical 'Moonshadow', which didn't last very long or do very well, despite his articulateness here. Yusuf talks about climbing roofs to look out over the West End and how 'I ain't going to be around forever - but I hoped that this way my songs would be sung live for a while'. He also tearfully recalls singing 'Moonshadow' to Christopher Reeve, at his request, when the Superman actor was paralysed and wanted to feel better about it. There's a brief but interesting clip of rehearsals with a noisy 'Days Of The Old School Yard', which appears to be the only part of the show that was ever officially filmed. The best quote: 'Music can't change the world, but it at least can give us an idea of the sort of world we want to have'.
32.CBS This Morning (US TV 2014)
Yusuf plugs his first tour since 1976 with a rambling backstage interview where Yusuf is caught nervously waiting for the gig to start, referring to the stage as the 'Peace train station waiting for the tracks to be laid'. I'm not quite sure he 'sounds as if he'd never left' as the presenter Anthony Mason puts it, but he seems keen to get going with his musical career, talking about playing in America again was on his 'tick box' of things to do.
33.The Tonight Show ('The Wind' US TV 2014)
It hardly seems worth having Yusuf come all the way over to sing one 90 second song, but at least it's a strong version with Yusuf back to just his voice and an acoustic guitar for the first time in a long time. He's got the shades on again, though.
34.Festival De Vina ('Wild World' 'Where Do The Children Play?' 'The First Cut Is The Deepest' 'Here Comes My Baby' 'Dying To Live' 'You Are My Sunshine' 'Oh Very Young' 'The Old Schoolyard' 'Sad Lisa' 'Miles From Nowhere' 'People Get Ready' 'Maybe There's A World-All You Need Is Love' 'If You Want To Sing Out Sing Out!' 'How Can I Tell You?' 'Roadsinger' 'Moonshadow' 'The Devil Comes From Kansas' 'Trouble' 'Sitting' 'Big Boss Man' 'Rubylove' 'Morning Has Broken' 'Peace Train' 'Father and Son' 'Another Saturday Night' Concert 2015)
A full one hour, forty-five minute show performed by Yusuf alongside several Latin American bands in Chile, with the singer following such acts as Tom Jones and The Backstreet Boys (!) in performing. Yusuf sounds tentative and nervous at times, opening with his first 'straight' version of 'Wild World' since his comeback and he's not always a natural fit for the backing band. The 'new' songs from 'Tell 'Em I'm Gone' sound even rougher in concert than they did on record too. Even so, this performance is a great one if only for the rarer material Yusuf performs - many songs for the first time, others for the first time in 40 years and even the set regulars sound different played folkier and more acoustically. 'Here Comes My Baby' is a particular surprise, performed with a new quirky guitar riff and stomping percussion, 'Maybe There's A World' now comes with a surprise 'All You Need Is Love' coda and there's one exclusive cover to this set, a rather odd version of Procul Harum's forgotten song 'The Devil Came From Kansas'. However despite the big surprises it's a gorgeous acoustic solo and slightly country version of 'Oh Very Young' that steals the show.
35.The One Show (UK TV 2015)
Finally, Yusuf appears on a typically hey-there-we've-got-a-singer-on-the-show-so-we're-going-to-talk-about-badgers-for-no-apparent-reason on Britain's magazine programme which still defies all odds by continuing despite the controversies and general incompetence. Yusuf seems out of it, losing the hapless presenters in his metaphors as he compares philosophers and politicians to plumbers and says that home, in Dubai, is his one place to find peace and quiet. Yusuf is justly proud of getting into the folk hall of fame and talks about his days as a folk band 'because I didn't have a band and couldn't sound like The Beatles!'
That's all for now - join us next week for more Cat Stevens!
A NOW COMPLETE LIST
OF CAT STEVENS ARTICLES TO READ AT ALAN’S ALBUM ARCHIVES:
'Matthew and Son' (1967) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/cat-stevens-matthew-and-son-1967.html