Cat Stevens to ‘bring new life’ to his breakthrough album with reworked version

Yusuf/Cat Stevens has said a new and re-recorded version of his acclaimed album Tea For The Tillerman will “bring new life” to its songs.

The singer-songwriter, 71, has reimagined his breakthrough 1970 album to mark its 50th anniversary.

The record, released when he was 22, was his fourth and contained hits including Wild World, Father And Son and Where Do The Children Play?

Tea For The Tillerman2 (Rhys Fagan/PA)
Tea For The Tillerman2 (Rhys Fagan/PA)

Stevens, who goes by the name Yusuf Islam, reimagined its 11 tracks during recording sessions at La Fabrique Studios in the south of France during summer 2019.

He told the PA news agency: “Part of the wisdom of this is that when you look back usually you see what you did wrong.

“In this case, I saw what I did right and tried to make it relative to myself today.

“When I go touring, of course that has been called off now, a lot of people want to hear these songs.

“I have to make it real for me today.

“I wanted to bring new life to these songs.

“That’s one of the reasons why I have gone back in the studio and done that again, but it’s also a challenge.

“I love a challenge.

“The album itself stands as an iconic moment in the melodious 70s when we had marvellous music and a marvellous time for people to enjoy the spirit of the time.

“But today things are different.

“These songs are very relevant to what is happening today.”

Music for the Marsden – London
Yusuf/Cat Stevens during a recent performance at the O2 Arena in London (Ian West/PA)

The album, titled Tea For The Tillerman2, reunites some of the original album’s key players, producer Paul Samwell-Smith and guitarist Alun Davies.

The cover illustrates the same tea time scene from the original album, but this time the Tillerman has returned from a trip to space to discover the world has become a darker place.

Two toddlers still play beside him but now they stream the latest music and video call each other on their mobile phones.

The concept was spawned by a conversation between Stevens and his son about how to celebrate the album’s 50th anniversary.

London-born Stevens was born Steven Demetre Georgiou but converted to Islam in 1977 and later adopted the name Yusuf Islam.

He went on a hiatus from music around 1979 to devote himself to religion.

Stevens returned to music in 2006 with the album An Other Cup.

Tea For The Tillerman2 is available from September 18 on UMC.

Lead single Where Do The Children Play? is out on Thursday.