Cat Stevens, today known as Yusuf, marked the 50th anniversary of his first three Island/A&M albums (1970's Mona Bone Jakon and Tea for the Tillerman, and 1971's Teaser and the Firecat) with a variety of releases including expansive super deluxe box sets. For 1972's Catch Bull at Four, the troubadour is taking a distinctly slimmed-down approach. On December 2, Island and A&M will reissue Stevens' classic album on CD, LP, and digitally, newly remastered from the original tapes but with no additional material.
Stevens' sixth overall studio album, Catch Bull at Four welcomed Paul Samwell-Smith and guitarist Alun Davies from the artist's first three albums, lending a strong sense of continuity to the records. Drummer Gerry Conway had also played on Teaser and the Firecat. Stevens rounded out the band with bassist Alan James and keyboardist Jean Roussel.
Catch Bull at Four, the title of which was inspired by Kuòān Shīyuǎn's series of short poems "Ten Bulls of Zen," matched or bettered the success of its predecessor Teaser and The Firecat. Whereas Teaser had reached No. 2 in both the U.K. and U.S., Catch Bull peaked at No. 2 in the U.K. and No. 1 in the U.S. (where it occupied pole position for three weeks and earned a Platinum sales certification). It also topped the album charts in Canada and Australia. The single "Sitting" didn't fare as well in the U.S. as "Wild World," "Peace Train," or "Morning Has Broken," but enjoyed a more-than-respectable top twenty berth on the Hot 100 as well as the AC chart.
Despite some reviewers lamenting its lack of an obvious hit single, Catch Bull reaffirmed Stevens' place at the vanguard of the contemporary singer-songwriter movement. Its lyrics reflected on the singer-songwriter's newfound fame and his personal quest for spiritual enlightenment; musically, the composer envisioned an even more expansive palette which would see him and the band utilizing unexpected instrumentation (Spanish guitar, bouzouki, electric mandolin, pennywhistle, organ, etc.) and teaming with arranger Del Newman for lush string accompaniment. The many influences which informed Stevens' art - folk, pop, R&B/soul, and musical theatre - came to the forefront of his newest compositions.
In the press release for the upcoming reissue, Stevens recollects on the period: "Contrary to the spiritual nature and theme of the album, Catch Bull At Four went straight to number one and became one of my biggest commercial accomplishments. It was scary! I feared it would divert me from my spiritual goal. That's precisely why I followed it up with an album called Foreigner, which would sacrifice my newly acquired crown for a welcome return to obscurity."
The 50th anniversary editions of Catch Bull at Four have been remastered at 96/24 from the original stereo production tapes by Mazen Murad. The LP has been pressed on 180-gram vinyl (black for standard retailers; orange for CatStevens.com, uDiscoverMusic.com, and Sound of Vinyl) and housed in a gatefold jacket with restored original artwork. The CD version includes a 16-page booklet with photos and memorabilia as well as lyrics. Both formats, as well as standard and high-resolution digital versions, will arrive from Island/A&M/UMe on December 2. You'll find the track listing and pre-order links below.
Cat Stevens, Catch Bull at Four (Island ILPS 9206 (U.K.)/A&M SP 4365 (U.S.), 1972 - reissued Island/A&M/UMe, 2022)
- Boy with a Moon and a Star on His Head
- Silent Sunlight
- Can't Keep it In
- 18th Avenue (Kansas City Nightmare)
- Freezing Steel
- O Caritas
- Sweet Scarlet