Yusuf/Cat Stevens - Tea for the Tillerman2 review: A refreshing take on the anniversary reissue

Rhys Fagan
Rhys Fagan

In the age of the reissue — legacy acts scrambling around for any dusty old demo tape to tack onto the end of a classic record so they can squeeze some cash out of a “deluxe” version — this release from Yusuf/Cat Stevens is refreshingly different.

It’s a “reimagining” of his sublime 1970 album, Tea For The Tillerman, with fresh renditions of all 11 tracks. It’s a peculiar and somewhat brave task to recreate an album that’s been gathering affection for half a century, but it’s not without merit.

At 72, his voice has lost its syrupy shine, but his subdued tones are endearingly world-weary. Some songs have been gently modified — Where Do The Children Play is a few shades darker, while Hard Headed Woman tames the tempest of the original into more of a passing breeze — but others have an entirely new skin. Wild World swaps acoustic guitars for something approaching a waltz, while On The Road is a bluesy stomp, grittier than before.

Most fascinating is Father and Son, in which he duets with a live recording of himself from 1970 — it’s superbly done, but makes you wish all the tracks were similarly bold.