New Masters shows a young Cat Stevens evolving.
email@example.com | Fort Bragg, CA. | 11/28/1998
(4 out of 5 stars)
"New Masters will give a whole new perspective to those fans of Cat Stevens who have never before listened to material of his pre A&M releases. Following the highly successful Mathew and Son released in 1967, New Masters represents an artist whose musical direction was being disuaded somewhat by those who sought to keep in tradidtion with the commercial success of Mathew and Son. The opening track of New Masters, Kitty, lends somewhat to the rantings of I'm gonna get Me a Gun with its vengeful I told you so attitude. Though similar in meaning to the almost cartoonish spitefulness of I'm gonna get Me a Gun, Kitty presents a darker aspect and culminates more dramatically. I'm so Sleepy could well be a song that one could sing to their child. Definately a lullaby with its music box-like instrumentation and gentle chordal arrangement. Nothern Wind is a haunting tale with passages that swell like the waves on which these troubled seafarers ride. It has a Celtic quality about it and is really a very interesting piece. Two of the songs on New Masters could have well been written for the sole purpose of capturing that silly wonderment of childhood in all its make believe and imaginary friends. The Laughing Apple is a prime example of Cat's ability to foster to the workings of a softer means-The song however, being almost too cheesy for its own good remains somewhat obscure. Moonstone is a fun little tale in all its adventuresome wanderings but also seems to come up short. Smash Your Heart is somewhat Beatlesque in stature. A fine song by standard it replicates the sentiments of a man whose heart for its namesake has been broken. Cat's own rendition of the hit The first Cut is the Deepest appears on this album testifying to his prowess as a songwriter. His vocal take on The first Cut is very powerful and moving. The musical score has a soulful movement which captures your ears and puts the rhythm down. I'm gonna be King has a Sinatra-sort of ring to it. Again, one of the lesser known Cat Stevens songs. Ceylon City is a happy-go-lucky tune which joyfully parades down the main streets of a young mans home town. It has a catchy get up and go that makes you feel almost too care free. More of a folk song than anything else on New Masters, Blackness of the Night has a Whiter Shade of Pale sound to it with its driving organ and tightly configured drumbeats. The song makes more of a political statement. It's a great song. Come on Baby (Shift that Log) is somewhat of a rave-up and contains a chanting monk-like rhythm which eventually blows up into this massive barrage of stripteased fanfare. This song has a nice string arrangement as do many early works by Cat Stevens. I Love them All could well be the anthem to someones highschool reunion. It contains more spirited energy than you could shake a pom pom at If your into that peppy sort of thing. What really compliments the New Masters album though is the addition of seven tracks not issued on the original vinyl. Supplemented for this CD and combined with the Mathew and Son CD, this represents all of Cat Stevens' recordings issued under Deram between 1966 and 1969. Songs like Lovely City, It's a Super (Dupa) Life and Here Comes my Wife seem to cast a shadow over the pop-like entrapments of his beginnings with Deram. Image of Hell is a simple heartfelt blues number with simple lyrics. It glides beautifully over a piano and lands hard upon the floor all in three minutes and three seconds. The View from the Top is an introspective number which I believe sums up all the frustration and pain which Stevens was dealing with at the time. It's a wonderful song with a big wide open arrangement and an ending which climaxes in fevered guitar soloing which eventually fades into what seems to be the past. Where are You represents the last song Stevens recorded for Deram. It ends his contract with the company and leaves him to forge a new. A beautiful song with Spanish influenced chording. It leaves you destined to tears and hopeful all the same. A track from 1967 ends the New Masters album. A Bad Night downplays the sort of seriousness conveyed in some of the other songs and brings the album to a catchy end. All in all I would have to rate this album 4 stars due simply to the fact that it contains not only the original track listing but because it includes the seven extra tracks which clearly show Cat evolving. It shows a young Stevens about to disappear and re-emerge as one of the worlds most gifted and successful artists of all time."