Cat Stevens


Even if his reasons were spiritual — he converted to Islam in 1977 — Stevens was one of the few pop stars wise enough to quit before his expiration date. As a result, we were spared a long, sad decline. But as this box reminds us, decay had, in fact, already begun. Stevens doesn’t shed any new light on the trajectory of his career: His early singles still sound twee; his best moments (almost all from Teaser and the Firecat and Tea for the Tillerman) have grown in stately beauty and clarity; and almost everything after is overproduced and fatuous. Diehards will want these four discs for the Harold and Maude cuts and some obscurities (a fine early demo, ”Back to the Good Old Times,” and ”God Is the Light,” a postretirement recording). And one can’t help but applaud anything that reinforces the idea of Islam as a serene, thoughtful faith. But non-converts should still stick with last year’s comprehensive, single-disc ‘The Very Best Of.’

Cat Stevens
  • Music