The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- A vintage copy of Cat Stevens' 1970 compilation LP with an INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two mated to an superb Double Plus (A++) side one, and British Decca vinyl that is about as quiet as we can find it
- This side two is doing everything right - the sound is rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical, Cat's vocals are present, and there is plenty of studio space on the recording
- Everything you want in a Folky Pop Star recording is here
- Not an easy record to find in audiophile playing condition with top quality sound - it took us years to get this shootout going
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Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitar reproduction is superb on the better copies of this recording. Simply phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard on every strum, along with richness, body and harmonic coherency that have all but disappeared from modern recordings (and especially from modern remasterings).
This vintage British Decca pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn't showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to "see" the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It's what vintage all analog recordings are known for -- this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it -- not often, and certainly not always -- but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What The Best Sides Of The World of Cat Stevens Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1970
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
What are sonic qualities by which a record -- any record -- should be judged? Pretty much the ones we discuss in most of our Hot Stamper listings: energy, vocal presence, frequency extension (on both ends), transparency, spaciousness, harmonic textures (freedom from smear is key), rhythmic drive, tonal correctness, fullness, richness, three-dimensionality, and on and on down the list.
When we can get a number of these qualities to come together on the side we’re playing, we provisionally give it a ballpark Hot Stamper grade, a grade that is often revised during the shootout as we hear what the other copies are doing, both good and bad.
Once we’ve been through all the side ones, we play the best of the best against each other and arrive at a winner for that side. Other copies from earlier in the shootout will frequently have their grades raised or lowered based on how they sounded compared to the eventual shootout winner. If we’re not sure about any pressing, perhaps because we played it early on in the shootout before we had learned what to listen for, we take the time to play it again.
Repeat the process for side two and the shootout is officially over. All that’s left is to see how the sides of each pressing match up.
It may not be rocket science, but it’s a science of a kind, one with strict protocols that we’ve developed over the course of many years to insure that the results we arrive at are as accurate as we can make them.
The result of all our work speaks for itself, on this very record in fact. We guarantee you have never heard this music sound better than it does on our Hot Stamper pressing -- or your money back.
What We're Listening For On The World of Cat Stevens
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren't "back there" somewhere, lost in the mix. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
- Here Comes My Wife
- Matthew And Son
- Here Comes My Baby
- Lovely City
- I'm Gonna Get Me A Gun
- I Love My Dog
- The First Cut Is The Deepest
- A Bad Night
- School Is Out
- Where Are You
Yusuf Islam (born Steven Demetre Georgiou; 21 July 1948), commonly known by his stage names Cat Stevens, Yusuf, and Yusuf / Cat Stevens, is a British singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. To date, Yusuf / Cat Stevens has sold over 100 million records and has over 2 billion streams. His musical style consists of folk, pop, rock, and, later in his career, Islamic music. Following two decades in which he only performed music which met strict religious standards, he returned to making secular music in 2006. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.
His 1967 debut album and its title song "Matthew and Son" both reached top ten in the UK charts. Stevens' albums Tea for the Tillerman (1970) and Teaser and the Firecat (1971) were certified triple platinum in the US. His 1972 album Catch Bull at Four went to No.1 on the Billboard 200 and spent weeks at the top of several other major charts. He earned ASCAP songwriting awards in 2005 and 2006 for "The First Cut Is the Deepest," which has been a hit for four artists. His other hit songs include "Father and Son," "Wild World," "Moonshadow," "Peace Train," and "Morning Has Broken."
In 1966, at age 18, he was heard by manager/producer Mike Hurst, formerly of British vocal group the Springfields. Hurst arranged for him to record a demo and helped him get a record deal. Stevens's first singles were hits: "I Love My Dog" reached number 28 on the UK Singles Chart; and "Matthew and Son," the title song from his debut album, reached number 2 in the UK. "I'm Gonna Get Me a Gun" was his second UK top 10 single, reaching number 6, and the album Matthew and Son reached number 7 on the UK Albums Chart.
Over the next two years, Stevens recorded and toured with an eclectic group of artists ranging from Jimi Hendrix to Engelbert Humperdinck. He was considered a fresh-faced teen star, placing several single releases in the British pop music charts. Some of that success was attributed to the pirate radio station Wonderful Radio London, which gained him fans by playing his records. In August 1967, he was one of several recording artists who had benefited from the station to broadcast messages during its final hour to mourn its closure.
His December 1967 album New Masters failed to chart in the United Kingdom. The album is now most notable for "The First Cut Is the Deepest," a song he sold for £30 (equivalent to £600 in 2021) to P. P. Arnold and which became a massive hit for her and an international hit for Keith Hampshire, Rod Stewart, James Morrison, and Sheryl Crow. Forty years after he recorded the first demo of the song, it earned him back-to-back ASCAP "Songwriter of the Year" awards, in 2005 and 2006.
The lack of success of Stevens' second album mirrored a difference of personal tastes in musical direction. He felt a growing resentment of producer Mike Hurst's attempts to re-create the style of his debut album, with heavy-handed orchestration and over-production, rather than the folk rock sound Stevens was attempting to produce. He admits having purposely sabotaged his own contract with Hurst, by making outlandishly expensive orchestral demands and threatening legal action; this achieved his goal: to be released from his contract with Deram Records, a sub-label of Decca Records.
On regaining his health at home after his release from the hospital, Stevens recorded some of his newly written songs on his tape recorder and played his changing sound for several new record executives. He hired an agent, Barry Krost, who arranged an audition with Chris Blackwell of Island Records. Blackwell offered him a "chance to record [his songs] whenever and with whomever he liked and, more importantly to Cat, however he liked." With Krost's recommendation, Stevens signed Paul Samwell-Smith, previously the bassist of the Yardbirds, as his new producer.
Samwell-Smith paired Stevens with guitarist Alun Davies, who was at that time working as a session musician. Davies was the more experienced veteran of two albums that had already begun to explore the emerging genres of skiffle and folk rock music. Davies was also thought to be a perfect fit with Stevens, particularly for his "fingerwork" on the guitar, harmonising, and backing vocals. They originally met just to record Mona Bone Jakon, but soon developed a friendship. Davies, like Stevens, was a perfectionist, appearing at all sound checks to be sure that all the equipment and sound were prepared for each concert.
The first single released from Mona Bone Jakon was "Lady D'Arbanville," which Stevens wrote about his young American girlfriend Patti D'Arbanville. The record had a madrigal sound, unlike most music played on pop radio, with djembes and bass in addition to Stevens' and Davies' guitars. It reached number 8 in the UK and was the first of his hits to get real airplay in the US. The single sold over 1 million copies and earned him a gold record in 1971. Other songs written for D'Arbanville included "Maybe You're Right" and "Just Another Night." "Pop Star," a song about his experience as a teen star, and "Katmandu," with Genesis frontman Peter Gabriel playing flute, were also featured. Mona Bone Jakon was an early example of the solo singer-songwriter album format that was becoming popular for other artists as well. Rolling Stone magazine compared its popularity with that of Elton John's Tumbleweed Connection, saying it was played "across the board, across radio formats."
Mona Bone Jakon was the precursor of Stevens' international breakthrough album, Tea for the Tillerman, which became a Top 10 Billboard hit. Within six months of its release, it had sold over 500,000 copies, attaining gold record status in the United Kingdom and the United States. The combination of Stevens' new folk rock style and accessible lyrics, which spoke of everyday situations and problems, mixed with the beginning of spiritual questions about life, remained in his music from then on. The album features the Top 20 single "Wild World"; a parting song after D'Arbanville moved on. "Wild World" has been credited as the song that gave Tea for the Tillerman 'enough kick' to get it played on FM radio. The head of Island Records, Chris Blackwell, was quoted as calling it "the best album we've ever released." Other album tracks include "Hard-Headed Woman," and "Father and Son" – sung by Stevens in baritone and tenor, portraying the struggle between fathers and sons who contrast their personal choices in life. In 2001, this album was certified by the RIAA as a Multi-Platinum record, having sold 3 million copies in the United States at that time. It is ranked at No. 206 in the 2003 list of "Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time."
After his relationship with D'Arbanville ended, Stevens noted the effect it had on his writing, saying, "Everything I wrote while I was away was in a transitional period and reflects that. Like Patti. A year ago we split; I had been with her for two years. What I write about Patti and my family... when I sing the songs now, I learn strange things. I learn the meanings of my songs late ..."
Stevens performing in Waikiki Shell, Oahu, Hawaii, 1974. The stage decor reflects his song, "Boy with a Moon & Star on His Head" from Catch Bull at Four.
Having established a signature sound, Stevens enjoyed a string of successes in the following years. 1971's Teaser and the Firecat album reached number two and achieved gold record status within three weeks of its release in the United States. It yielded several hits, including "Peace Train," "Morning Has Broken", and "Moonshadow." The album was also certified by the RIAA as a Multi-Platinum record in 2001, with over 3 million sold in the United States through that time. When interviewed on a Boston radio station, Stevens said about Teaser and the Firecat:
I get the tune and then I just keep on singing the tune until the words come out from the tune. It's kind of a hypnotic state that you reach after a while when you keep on playing it where words just evolve from it. So you take those words and just let them go whichever way they want ...'Moonshadow'? Funny, that was in Spain, I went there alone, completely alone, to get away from a few things. And I was dancin' on the rocks there ... right on the rocks where the waves were, like, blowin' and splashin'. Really, it was so fantastic. And the moon was bright, ya know, and I started dancin' and singin' and I sang that song and it stayed. It's just the kind of moment that you want to find when you're writin' songs.
For seven months, in 1971 and 1972, Stevens was romantically linked to popular singer Carly Simon, while both were being produced by Samwell-Smith. During that time, they each wrote songs for, and about, one another. Simon wrote and recorded at least two Top 50 songs, "Legend in Your Own Time" and "Anticipation" about Stevens. He reciprocated with a song to her, written after their romance, entitled "Sweet Scarlet."
His next album, Catch Bull at Four, released in 1972, was his most rapidly successful album in the United States, reaching gold record status in 15 days and holding the number one position for three weeks on the Billboard 200 and fifteen weeks at number one in the Australian ARIA Charts.