Maybe You’re Right

Contrast with the young Cat Stevens from a few days ago. This is Cat Stevens at his metier. It’s the difference between an artist who hasn’t yet established who he wants to be, and one who has. Mona Bone Jakon was only his third album, and compared to the previous two, I have to say that it should be considered the first real Cat Stevens album. Stevens put out his first music on Deram Records, a Decca affiliate label best known for also being home to an equally uncomfortable with himself young David Bowie, as well as important artists like Whistling Jack Smith and Martin’s Magic Sounds. It was a record label that seemed to specialize in a certain type of music hall-ish campiness, and Cat Stevens was, for a time, their biggest attraction. They tried very, very hard to shove him into the role of peppy little pop star, and he was so intensely stressed out by the pressure that his immune system gave out and he nearly succumbed to tuberculosis. Fortunately, the near brush with death led to a quantum leap in maturity, and after a long convalescence, Stevens returned to the scene his own man. He grew a beard, started wearing comfortable clothes, found himself a real record company, and wrote intelligently about meaningful things. He became the Cat Stevens we know and love. Until another close brush with death brought about a radical transformation…


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