Monday, December 18, 2006

In House #1767: Yusuf Islam's An Other Cup

He's the Artist Formerly Known As Cat Stevens, but Yusuf Islam has done quite a lot under his own name in the twenty-eight years since he turned his back on the world of pop music. For many though, Islam's post-Stevens career contains little else but the comments he made that seemed to support the fatwa calling for the death of author Salman Rushdie in 1988-- comments that Islam has insisted were misinterpreted. Whatever the case, Islam's actions before and since that controversy tend to support his claim, as he has worked to support causes promoting peace, education, and charity, largely through the sales of his pop recordings, which continue to number 1.5 million albums per year.

An Other Cup
marks Islam's first pop effort since 1978's Back to Earth (and first, obviously, under his current name), though the results might suggest that Cat Stevens never left us. Things start off rather unexpectedly with the horn-laden chorus of "Midday (Avoid City After Dark)" signaling that this will not necessarily be a reserved return; indeed, Islam sounds positively joyous to be back. The voice and delivery continue to be unmistakeable, having been kept in great shape by Islam's faith-based musical forays over the years, and the songwriting is based largely in the searching, introspective vein his reputation was built upon, with many of the new compositions made up of the familiar rhythmic changes and shifting cadences of classics like "Peace Train," "Moonshadow," and "Father & Son." In 1970, following a life-threatening bout with tuberculosis, Stevens returned with the decidedly more serious and spirtual Mona Bone Jakon, an album that saw him making the transition from teen pop sensation to introspective singer-songwriter. It's no mistake that a re-realization of that album's cornerstone tune, "I Think I See the Light," is included on An Other Cup. It's a gesture that is at once a transformation and a return to form, perhaps the only way it could be for one of the most complex personalities in the history of pop music.

Yusuf Islam

In House #1767.
Airdate: 12/18/06
Focus: New release from Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), An Other Cup, plus new music from Tom Waits, Richard Swift, Ron Sexsmith, and more.

BONUS MP3s from today's show-
Yusuf, from An Other Cup: "Midday (Avoid City After Dark)" (MP3)

10,000 Maniacs, from early pressings of In My Tribe: "Peace Train" (MP3)

Richard Swift, from Dressed Up For the Letdown (due 2/20):
"Kisses For the Misses" (MP3)



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