CAT STEVENS - Greatest Hits (1975) [Remastered 1988] & Majikat: Earth Tour 1976 (2005)
Like many of his peers, Cat Stevens made records that were identified by strong, memorable hit singles, but make no mistake: he made albums that were cohesive works onto themselves. For that reason, the very idea of a Cat Stevens greatest-hits collection may be troublesome to some fans, since they will only notice the missing album tracks, but Greatest Hits does its job exceptionally well. With the exception of "The Hurt," all of his hits from the early '70s -- "Wild World," "Moon Shadow," "Peace Train," "Morning Has Broken," "Sitting," "Oh Very Young," "Another Saturday Night," "Ready," and "Two Fine People" -- are here, along with three other fine album tracks. In short, it is everything that casual fans need -- and even fans that find a favorite or two missing will be hard-pressed to deny that this is a solid introduction and a great listen.
Recorded just past his commercial zenith and about a year and a half before he quit the music business for good, this concert recording from Cat Stevens's mid-'70s Majikat tour (filmed in Williamsburg, Virginia) lay unused in the vaults for the better part of three decades, and its 2004 release is a reminder of just how successful and talented he was. Playing acoustic guitar and piano and performing solo, with minimal backing, and with a full band (not to mention a trio of magicians and an impressive stage set), Stevens runs through some 20 songs, drawing from his entire catalog, with particular emphasis on Tea for the Tillerman. The remastered digital sound is excellent, and there are plenty of extra features, including a lengthy and informative contemporary interview with Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam), six additional songs from the archives (one of which, "Moonshadow," is presented in animation), and a reproduction of the original tour program. Even if this weren't the only available visual evidence from Stevens's career, Majikat (Earth Tour 1976) would be a worthy and valuable record of one of the most popular artists of his time.