Cat Stevens

Box Sets

Phases and Stages

Cat Stevens

(A&M) Here's a 4-CD retrospective of the man now called Yusuf Islam, but whom we all know better under the name Cat Stevens. Accompanied by a graphics-rich book called In Search of the Centre of the Universe, On the Road to Find Out takes us from C. Stevens' pop beginnings ("Back to the Good Old Days," from 1965) to the more recent religious offerings of Y. Islam (1997's "God Is the Light"), with sufficient stops along the road to make fans of any theological hue believe their prayers have been answered. Titled "The City," "The Search," "The Hurt," and "The Last," the four discs suggest distinct phases within the chronological progression of songs, and with close examination, you might make a case for those labels. Musically speaking, however, only the first disc stands apart from the rest: a sore thumb painfully awry on an aural hand of glory. But this is a career overview, so it's historically apt to include cuts from the first two Brit releases, even though Stevens' songs are ravaged by then-producer Mike Hurst's over-the-top, brass-heavy orchestration that comes off like a sort of Herb Alpert petit mal and moves many of the tunes toward the cheesy stylings of Leonard Nimoy. "In Search of," indeed. Only that first part threatens to overlap sci-fi pop culture, as the rest of the enterprise (ahem) returns Stevens to more earthly, personal sounds: guitar, piano, some drums, and his distinctive, passionate voice. All the hits are here, and many respectable B-sides and live versions of favorites, even a few songs from his unstaged musical, Revolussia. Whether this sharp package will help anyone find the "centre" of the universe is a moot point, but wherever you are in this wild world, here's some good and sometimes heavy shit that'll make your existence even more wonderful a thing than it already is.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Friday ACL Fest 2018 Record Reviews
Natalie Prass
The Future and the Past (Record Review)

Michael Toland, Oct. 12, 2018

Saturday ACL Fest 2018 Record Reviews
Ruston Kelly
Dying Star (Record Review)

Doug Freeman, Oct. 12, 2018

More by Wayne Alan Brenner
Austin Filmmakers’ Waking Nightmares
Austin Filmmakers’ Waking Nightmares
They’re just making a movie. What could possibly go wrong?

Oct. 5, 2018

Seeking Out Sardines
Seeking Out Sardines
In which we visit a pair of prime dining spots for the tiny savories

Sept. 28, 2018

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle