18 October 2008

Yusuf's Cafe Session

We figured since we could finally give Dylan a chance maybe we should give this Cat Stevens cat another go-round. We have an inherited copy of Stevens' Classics disc in our library, an album that we spun once or twice in our younger days and disavowed forthwith. So full of hippy dippy cliche, we thought. Such a cornball collection of find-yourself, Give Peace a Chance nonsense. But with No Direction Home running through our minds we decided to pop ol' Cat Steves into the hi-fi, sit our broke asses on the sofa, and prepare ourselves for the shock of havin' our minds...changed?

We didn't know what to expect when we pushed play. Would we pull a 180? Would he still sound like a '70s era softie? Well, as it turns out the Cat is, yep, a dyed in the wool dippy hippy. He toured with magicians! Clowns! He has a whole bunch of songs about hittin' the old dusty trail and strikin' out to find yourself. But behind all that bearded open shirtiness is a lot of stuff that sure gets our gears a-turning, by which we mean fingerstyle guitar pickin' and upper register falsetto-in'. Hmmm...maybe Cat Stevens wasn't so bad, we thought. Half these tunes -- the ones without the awful AM radio soft rock overdubbing -- were awfully sweet and poignant. Cliched folk singer themes to spare, but performed with lots o' honest heart and soul, and lots o' honorable love and tenderness.

So, Cat Stevens... No, wait! We meant to say: So, Yusuf Islam, we've done changed our opinion of ya. We think you're pretty neat. Maybe you grew a funny beard, maybe you wrote a (yeeesh) children's book, and maybe you wore some of them godforsaken beaded necklaces, but we think you've got integrity in spades and a damn fine singin' voice to boot. The Highland Cinema seal of okayness? It's all yours. As-Salamu Alakum, brother!

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