9 Lives (no label)
Morgan Studios, London, England – 1970, 1971
(48:27) Wild World, If I Laugh, This Can Be Love, Changes IV, Katmandou, Morning Has Broken, It’s So Good, Tuesday’s Dead, Don’t Be Shy, Who’ll Be My Love, Moonshadow, How Can I Tell You, Peace Train, The Fisherman, If You Want To Sing Out Sing Out
When you consider that there have been virtually no outtakes from the most prolific era of Cat Stevens’ career (the early ’70s), “9 Lives” is a revelation. And at its best, this collection of solo acoustic demos rivals the best work in his catalog; here we have one of the world’s most original singer/songwriters at the top of his game, running through his songs (some of which would go on to become beloved classics) in the comfy confines of London’s Morgan Studios.
The CD includes embryonic versions of “Wild World,” “Peace Train,” “Moonshadow” and even “Morning Has Broken” (astonishing to hear on acoustic guitar, long before Rick Wakeman was brought in to add a bit of piano magic). Some of the lyrics are different. There are three songs Cat never “officially” recorded for “Mona Bone Jakon,” “Tea For the Tillerman” or “Teaser and the Firecat” (the albums these songs were demo’d for), and while they’re not quite as strong, lyric-wise, as the best things on those classic records, it’s simply breathtaking to hear the young Cat, with his sexy growl, on melodies we’ve never heard before. He was, quite simply, a brilliant artist.
The sound on “9 Lives” is studio quality – it’s as if you’re in the room with Cat – and it’s a marvelous listen from start to finish. From the rollicking “Tuesday’s Dead” and “Changes IV” to the whisper-quiet “Katmandu” and the bouncy “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out,” the CD is a Cat Stevens fan’s dream come true.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)