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Disc And Echo August 26, 1972
preview by Martin Lewis
courtesy of Bruce Lawrie


Privilege is a pleasurable pain. For on the first sight, the privilege of a preview of Cat Steven’s new album is nothing if not 100 octane purring pleasure. To sit in the comfort of the elegant playback rooms at Island studios with no distractions and wallow in a perfect product five weeks before release date ….. ah! That’s the style!




The pain comes when the album, still but an acetate, is played through, the lights come on and it was a corker – a veritable 35 minutes of ear-tingling joy. "Sorry no copies available for at least a month."


The packed room of journalists and media-men in unison sighed that audible display of frustration that comes when the palate has been treated to a most exquisite dish …then told to come to the banquet next week.

The title track "Catch Bull At Four" is on first hearing a marked development for Cat. For while the usual quality hallmarks like high-strung melodies, exotically shifting rhythms and harmoniously plucking guitar are all in evidence his voice has opened considerably.

One track is about a "boy with the moon and stars on his head." Six minutes of Cat’s new found metallic voice over Alun Davies’ busy acoustically-cutting guitar which etches a vivid backcloth. The words wafted in one ear ….. triggered rare evocative emotions of captured love …. Then sped through and out of the other ear leaving a desire to hear it all over again.

Then comes one that again has that tight membrane-bursting vocal and an instrumental backing as electricity charged as the sound of 500 Swan Vestas being slowly scratched over coarse abrasive sandpaper. It sparks, hisses, and finally flares into flamboyant flame fanned by machine gun drumming.


Then sounds of a morning songbird, piping flute over virtuoso violin … a melody as breathlessly light as a Kipling cake! As Cat mentioned in his recent interview with Disc – he feels music as a sexual release. The perfect example of that is "a track with" a sensuous rakish voice that informs you that "Love heats my blood …. So let’s live for today." No wonder this is being considered for a single. 


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By the second side of the album, I was too weak and drunk with music to make exacting notes …. But I recall hearing a piece with heavy major chord changes breaking into teardrop violin that swelled into a sea of orchestral tears, fuzzy bass-lines that started out at a trot developed into a canter, and ended at breakneck full gallop and vibrant driving piano.

The show stealer was "O Caritas" a song by Cat and Jeremy Taylor and sung in Latin! All over a hot olive scented Mediterranean music. Greek style bouzoukis and Spanish rhythms ….. no wonder when the track faded a voice at the back was heard to say "Ole Kebob!"

The last track is like a smokey smouldering log fire – the warm embers of this song will help us all through the bitter cold winter ahead (there’s pessimism in August for you!) as it glows and flickers on your turntable. The lyric through is a plea to end destructive attitudes.


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* This site is dedicated in the memory of Keith Balaam. ---<----<----@