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100 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all-time favorites
Cat Stevens had two absolutely great albums, and this is one of them. The other was _Tea for the Tillerman_, and _Mona Bone Jakon_ was darned close. If you have those three, skip the "very best of" collections; you have most of the "very best of" Cat Stevens already. Borrow _Buddha and the Chocolate Box_ from somebody and tape "Sun/C79" and "Oh, Very Young," and you'll...
Published on June 4, 2001 by John S. Ryan

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3.0 out of 5 stars Cat Stevens - Teaser and the Firecat
Yea, its OK, but not up to the Tea for the Tillerman. The cover is good, with a few fine songs.
Published 23 days ago by J. G. Spence


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100 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all-time favorites, June 4, 2001
This review is from: Teaser & The Firecat (Audio CD)
Cat Stevens had two absolutely great albums, and this is one of them. The other was _Tea for the Tillerman_, and _Mona Bone Jakon_ was darned close. If you have those three, skip the "very best of" collections; you have most of the "very best of" Cat Stevens already. Borrow _Buddha and the Chocolate Box_ from somebody and tape "Sun/C79" and "Oh, Very Young," and you'll have the rest.

(Not that his other stuff isn't _good_, but it's mostly not of the same quality -- though portions of _Catch Bull At Four_ come within inches of it. I don't have much patience with "fans" who tell us that the rest of us aren't "true" fans if we find "Foreigner Suite" to be much ado about nothing and don't especially care for _Izitso_. If we have to suspend our powers of discrimination and uncritically adore everything an artist emits, who wants to be a "true" fan of _anybody_? And what genuine artist would want such "fans"?)

Since this album is so solidly written and produced (and its quality, in my opinion, more evenly distributed than that of _Tea_), it's hard to single out any highlights; besides, it's been one of my absolute favorite albums for about thirty years, and who can be objective after that long? Heck, I learned to play the guitar from Cat Stevens, James Taylor, and Jim Croce, with some help from Lightfoot and Fogelberg and CSN+/-Y and a handful of others. I can't step back now and pretend I'm hearing this stuff for the first time.

But like all of its longtime listeners, I have my personal favorites. One of these is "The Wind," which is just about the most perfect "spiritual-seeker" song ever written in all of human history. (Hey, I said I wasn't going to be objective.)

His take on the old hymn "Morning Has Broken" is just stunningly gorgeous. If you even _know_ this hymn, he's probably responsible at least indirectly; it enjoyed an amazing popular resurgence in the liturgies of the 1970s after he turned it into a hit. And "Moonshadow" also made quite a few appearances in religious programs during that same decade -- not to mention around campfires in various altered states of consciousness. (Moreover -- voice of experience here? you guess -- the song is sufficiently simple that it can be played convincingly in almost any of those states.)

But my real favorites are some of the less popular cuts. "If I Laugh." "Changes IV." "Tuesday's Dead." "Bitterblue." And the great "Rubylove," a challenge in seven-eight meter and one of the man's few recorded nods toward his Greek heritage. (After he converted to Islam and adopted the name "Yusuf," i.e., Joseph, I fell briefly into the not-quite-nice habit of referring to him as "Bouzouki Joe.")

Which reminds me -- here's a little history for the uninitiated:

"Cat Stevens" was the stage name of Steven Georgiou, who was born in the U.K. in 1949 of a Cypriot father and a Swedish mother. Something of a musical prodigy, he released his first two albums well before he was twenty years old and was on his way to becoming a "pop star." He then fell victim to a terrible case of tuberculosis. When he returned to singing and songwriting, he had taken a decidedly more reflective turn and found himself delivering absolutely beautiful stuff with no apparent commercial potential. That was fine with him; he was no longer particularly interested in commercial success. But, perhaps ironically, his delicate confessional songs and his deliberate avoidance of "commercial-ness" turned him into a huge international star.

Well, he eventually (1977) became a Muslim and adopted the name "Yusuf Islam" (after the biblical dream-interpreter Joseph). At that time he also left the music industry. He has since recorded a couple of albums about Islam, but his last collection of commercial music was _Footsteps In The Dark_ (ostensibly a second volume of his "greatest hits," but in fact a set of lesser-known favorites and a handful of tunes not available elsewhere).

You can feel safe in ignoring the comments from people who think he has become "rigid" and/or "intolerant." The simple fact is that nearly every Cat Stevens album (the exceptions being his first two) is filled with "spiritual seeking," and he eventually found what he was looking for in Islam. His "recent" (actually, 1990) remarks on Salman Rushdie were not what you probably think they were (and in particular he didn't call for Rushdie's death). He's no more "rigid" or "intolerant" than the rest of us; he's simply a religiously observant Muslim, that's all. There's a problem here only for people who think seekers should never get around to finding, or that traditional religion is more "dogmatic" than irreligion.

_Tea_ and _Teaser_ are still great albums, and they don't need to "transcend" their creator in order to be great; there's no need to run down Yusuf in order to elevate Cat. And since these albums _were_ written during his "seeker" stage, they're suitable for everybody -- future Muslims or not.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, July 30, 2000
This review is from: Teaser & The Firecat (Audio CD)
When my mom bought Cat Stevens best hits, I liked it so much that I dug around our basement to find old cassette tapes of his. I discovered "Teaser and the Firecat" and started playing it in the van I drove every day. I loved it so much that I bought the CD and I have listened to it hundreds of times. Every song on this album is great, and I am definitely going out to buy more Cat Stevens albums before I leave for college in a few weeks. Cat Stevens is a very talented artist and every word of his songs has a special meaning.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Opinion of a Cat Lover, October 2, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Teaser & The Firecat (Audio CD)
I wasn't even born when this album came out, but I grew up listening to the timeless tunes of this prolific genius. He poured his heart out onto every song and this is evident in "Bitter Blue" and "The Wind". He was on a search to find the meaning of life, one of which many of us never embark, let alone attain. It is very sad that he gave up this beautiful gift from God, but if you know what he went through to get to where he is today, you'll know why he gave it up. I don't like that many people disapprove of his choice to become Muslim, but he is happy. Even though this musical master's career was short-lived, we'll be able to enjoy his creations for a lifetime and beyond. If anyone likes folk-music, this is definitely a piece for your musical collection.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aah..the memories this album evokes, January 6, 2002
By 
Sean M. Kelly (Portland, Oregon United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Teaser & The Firecat (Audio CD)
Like many children born to the so-called "hippie" generation, I was bred on the songs of the 70's singer/songwriter genre. At any moment in my home, the music of Jim Croce, Harry Chapin, James Taylor, Carole King, and many others, could be heard. Among the most played songs in my home (and on any radio) was the anthemic "Peace Train," and through it came my formal introduction to the world of the former Cat Stevens. I loved his songs then, and cherish them even more now that I am in my early 30's. The music he created resonates as well now as it did then.
For my money, "Teaser and the Firecat" was, and remains, Cat's most perfect statement. From the opening strains of the uplifting and prophetic "The Wind" to the final pluckings on "Peace Train," Cat welcomes the listener into his world and you find all facets of the human condition talked about with ease and grace. How many of us can't relate to the sound of the embittered lover in "If I Laugh," or to the possibilities of love in "Ruby My Love," or to the heartfelt dealing of death and love lost in the emotionally charged and poignant "How Can I Tell You?" Very few, I'm sure. The pure outburst of emotion on these songs alone make the lp a keeper.
Many people of my generation will dismiss Cat as an idealistic hippie after listening to "Peace Train", "Moonshadow," or "The Wind," and perhaps that was true to a degree, but one can not deny the optimism that Cat Stevens brought to his music, and through it, to countless fans (myself among them- not a day goes by without listening to this lp at least once). In the wake of recent events in the US and abroad, the time has never been better to (re)introduce oneself to the music of Cat Stevens, and see what the fuss was about when he was at the peak of his popularity. For me personally, the lp hearkens back to the days before innocence was lost forever- to the simple pleasures of being a child, singing and dancing to music because it made you FEEL (and feel good, too). The world needs more such outbursts. Perhaps then we can all ride the Peace Train as Cat hoped for us to do.
While a few of the tracks can be deemed "dated" or "products of its time," "Teaser and the Firecat" is still an amazing album that holds more than its own in 2002. Find out why. Indispensible listening.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Was It That Long Ago?, February 1, 2006
This review is from: Teaser & The Firecat (Audio CD)
I am no longer sure whether it is a good thing to remember when an album was first released. I recall when "Teaser and the Firecat" was issued, and the enthusiasm that greeted it on AM radio. Cat Stevens, who eschewed commercial success, was a pop star. Perhaps a bigger surprise should have been that many of the songs are folk songs, many of which are contemplative and occasionally introspective, rather than the lightweight "bubble gum" pop that seemed to dominant AM at the time. Perhaps it was partially that contrast that made this album so successful.

The tone of the album is set by "The Wind," a short, simple and peaceful song about dealing with personal temptation and the pilgrimage to understanding both oneself and the world. I find it amazing that an artist can place so much depth in a song accompanied only by a pair of acoustic guitars. Perhaps it was that pilgrimage that drove Cat Stevens to write his songs and music.

The following song is a love song. "Rubylove" is yet another simple song with heartfelt words. The music relies on a few instruments (including bouzoukis) and harmonies to bring out the power of the words. One of the highlights of this song is the portion sung in Greek (I think it is Greek). The words translated into English (which are available on several web sites) are:

Sweet Ruby come back

Come back to my side (or me)

Come in the morning with the dawn

You were a ray of sunshine (or like a sunbeam) my little Ruby

"If I Laugh" is a lament for a love that never happened; a poignant and interesting concept for a love song. Another song with a similar subject is "How Can I Tell You," which deals with his inability to tell someone that he loves her. The faster pace song "Bitterblue" may deal with yet another aspect of love unfulfilled, this time after providing her with several opportunities that she did not accept. It would appear to a casual observer that Cat Stevens was having problems with his love life at that time.

Another interesting song that has fast pace and idealistic lyrics is "Changes IV." The music is good, but the lyrics are a description of Steven's philosophical view of the world at that time, which are fully of lovely late 60s cultural desires that we are as far from fulfilling today as we were then.

One of the most worthwhile and interesting songs on this CD is "Tuesday's Dead." The pace is fast with a calypso flavor and the nearly meaningless lyrics appear to be there more for their ability to enhance the music than for any particular message.

The opening piano chords of "Morning Has Broken" are some of the most recognizable chords of any song from that era. This beautiful song combines religious elements with a pop sound so subtly that a casual listener may be unaware of the fact that the song is religion-based. The song is also a celebration of the beauty of life, and is one of the best songs to ever give someone the feel of how great it is to be alive. I always enjoy the backing vocals in the last minute of this song that give the song an angelic touch. This song will always be one of the classics of rock and pop.

"Moonshadow" is yet another song that is subtly religious. This song plays on several levels, all of them with a touch of innocent enjoyment of the wonderment of nature. Cat Stevens captured the feeling of walking alone in a natural place with but the moon's light to accompany him, and then provided speculation as to the meaning of life, but in such a non-intrusive way that you never realize the depths of the song. In spite of the song's depth, the song remains humble with an air of mystery that quietly inspires awe rather than overwhelming bombast.

The album closes with the cheerfully optimistic song "Peace Train." Remember that this era was the close of the 60s and the beginning of the 70s, and the era where we were all tired of wars (times have changed little - we are still tired of wars). Cat Stevens saw the movements of the 60s as being a power that could drive worldwide peace. The upbeat pace of the song, the pace and power of the lyrics and the mixture of hand-clapping with pop and folk elements make this one of the unique songs of rock and pop.

Cat Stevens was a rare artist who lived in the pop world and wrote unpretentiously and easily in the folk world, and gained popular acceptance in spite of his lack of desire to be popular. This mixture of elements has created almost a myth around Cat Stevens, now Yusuf Islam. Cat has always been unabashed in his desire for a better, more peaceful world. He has supported his desires with actions, recording music that is overtly religious and providing money to purely charitable activities. Yusuf also finally recognizes that Islam accepts music, and has started to record again. Time has gone from the era of the Cat Stevens we knew, but perhaps Yusuf Islam could yet recapture the childlike wonder of the man we once knew as Cat Stevens. We can only hope, and perhaps pray.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cat Steven's Teaser and the Firecat, July 2, 2000
By 
"intensegirl" (Cashmere, WA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Teaser & The Firecat (Audio CD)
My sister and I found this album in 1983, it was lying coverless in the bottom of a kitchen cupboard. Our parents for some reason didn't want it. We now know why of course, they were mad that Cat Stevens stopped making music. I was only five in 1983, and we played this album over and over. It is the only music that has touched me as deeply as it has and still does. I love this album, and I am going to buy them all for my sister as well. We lived in a turbulent household and this music was our own little place we could go. In today's world there is so much vulgarity and meaningless music. Cat Stevens music is timeless, which is hard to say about an album from the seventies. It doesn't have the hokey sugar coated feel to it nor is it funky to say the least. Folk music it is, and I am so excited to get my copy. I haven't heard this album since the early 80's. Of the snippets I listened to on Amazon, I did find that I still know all the words. I can't wait to get this home so my little girl can listen to it. Buy this album, especially if you are into folk music. I will be carefully garding my copy.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stevens teases with his songcraft and melodies, June 1, 2000
This review is from: Teaser & The Firecat (Audio CD)
Cat Stevens. Most folks remember him today for "soft rock", his devotion to the Muslim religion and little else. Which is sad. Stevens at his peak was one of the finest singer-songwriters to emerge during the 70's. He had his pretentious moments (Foreigner Suite from Foreigner) and his intellectually challenged songs as well (anything from Izitso)but most of his material has aged gracefully.
Teaser along with Mona Bone Jakon, Catch Bull and Tea for the Tillerman is among his best gems. Although it misses the whismical undercurrent of Tea and Mona, Teaser more than makes up for it with sharply constructed songs. The melodies throughout are rich and when the words get in the way (as happens on a couple of tunes), the rich production and music more than make up for it.
So how's the sound quality? Quite an improvement over the previously issued edition but not a huge difference from the last couple of anthologies that were issued. The sound quality is stunning with plenty of sonic detail. The remastering by the ubiquitious and talented Ted Jensen manages to capture both the warmth and depth missing from the previous version. Jensen doesn't sacrifice anything to achieve a better sounding CD.
The packaging varies a bit as there is a limited (numbered) edition with tries to duplicate the original LP art(which will probably be around for at least a little while). Then there is the standard CD version with the booklet. It doesn't really matter which one you get as they're about the same.
This reminds us about the life Cat Stevens had before he changed his name and gave up pop music. He moved on at the right time as he was pretty much a spent force musically by the time of Buddah & The Chocolate Box. Teaser has aged well and still charms with its percolating rhythms and rolling acoustic guitar sound.
Highly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wow, June 13, 2000
This review is from: Teaser & The Firecat (Audio CD)
Every song on Teaser and the Firecat is amazing; there is absolutely no dud among the lot of them. It contains some of his most famous songs like Peace Train, but the ones that really stand out to me are How Can I Tell You and If I Laugh, just to name a few. Overall this is an amazing cd. Most artists can't even put out a greatest hits cd that comes close to this. I highly recommend this cd.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of Stevens' Best, December 9, 2000
This review is from: Teaser & The Firecat (Audio CD)
"Teaser And The Firecat" was my first Cat Stevens album, and undoubtedly one of his best. This was the album which made him a household name in many parts of the world, and is also one of Stevens' most accessible albums, and there are a number of excellent songs. "Moonshadow", "Morning Has Broken"(I remember singing this one in school assembly when I was a nipper) and the calypso-flavoured "Peace Train"(one of Steven' best songs) were the obvious hits, and are among the songs that most new Cat fans like the most. Much of the lesser known stuff on the album equals the greatness of the aforementioned songs. "How Can I Tell You" is an overlooked masterpiece, and a very beautiful song to boot. "Rubylove" is a nice little folk song with a Greek flavour (Stevens even sings a few verses in Greek). "The Wind", although brief, is another excellent folk tune. "Bitterblue" and "Tuesday's Dead" are both fairly upbeat and catchy pop/rock numbers.
If you're a new Cat Stevens fan, this is a worthy first purchase, and although it may not be as perfect as Stevens' masterpiece "Tea For The Tillerman", it is nevertheless a superb album.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Timeless Sixties Masterpiece!, October 11, 2000
By 
Barron Laycock "Labradorman" (Temple, New Hampshire United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Teaser & The Firecat (Audio CD)
Whoops! Yeah, I know. How can anyone still favor the music from someone whose own recent public pronouncements belie the dreamy humanism and tolerance of the lyrics in these songs? Still, after thirty years of listening to this album, it still puzzles me that anyone capable of creating such beautiful lyrics, enchanting melodies, and memorable arrangements could now be so rigid and intolerant of others. Go figure. Yet, I have to admit that the music remains, folks, a monument to late sixties-early seventies consciousness, a pillar to the edifice of the whole notion that we could change the world and make it a better, more tolerant, and more humane place to live in. All the music here is wonderful, and I can listen to the album without missing a lovely beat, from "The Wind" to the magical and breath-taking "Peace Train". Even the cover art by Cat himself is an enchanting reminder of the kind of soft pop sentimentalism that one expects from a gentle soul such as is portrayed here. My own personal favorites are "Rubylove" with its Greek choral overtones and instruments (Stevens is an English-born son of Greek ethnic parents), the soft yet soaring "Morning Has Broken", a song I have never heard a harsh word against, and of course, "Moonshadow", another in a series of similar unforgettable Cat Steven's catchy musical confections. There is simply no getting around how uniquely talented he was. Like "Tea For The Tillerman" before it, this terrific album is a reminder that sometimes art rises above the level of its all too human creator. Enjoy!
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Teaser & The Firecat
Teaser & The Firecat by Yusuf/Cat Stevens (Audio CD - 2000)
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