||From the Vault...
© A&M Records
Year of Release: 1973
How Many Times
100 I Dream
Cat Stevens related sites:
By 1973 and Cat Stevens' next album release Foreigner, his music and career was at its peak. Foreigner was to be a different approach -
more on the R&B side. "Black Music" he would call it. "If black music was happening, I decided to just get down to it. And because I was a stranger in the
world of black sounds, I called the album Foreigner.
As with his past 4 albums, there were plenty of hit songs from Cat, all memorable songs still remembered decades later after their releases. However,
Foreigner didn't acheive any memorable songs as his previous ones. It was definitely heard, that a different approach was the focus of the album.
For starters, the first track took up the entire first side vinyl - "Foreigner Suite." (Back in the 1960s and 1970s, long-minute songs were recorded by
many, the one-sided, one-track songs. Iron Butterfly, Pink Floyd, to name a few, had done it.) "Foreigner Suite" clocked in at over 18 minutes in length.
You could call it Cat's "one-song opera." It has it's moments, powerful in sound. Although in my opinion, it didn't really sound R&B as a whole; I thought it had
more of a Progressive Rock approach. An interesting fact regarding "Foreigner Suite" -- Stevens, along with Joe Satirani, filed a lawsuit against the band
Coldplay, in 2009. Plagerism (although not intentional) was the cause, as Satriani's "If I Could Fly" and Stevens' "Foreigner Suite" were "used"
as the melody to Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" song. The Coldplay song was similar to the Suite, starting around the 14:30 mark, and throughout the ending.
It was also pointed out that the "Foreigner Suite" was unintentionally used in another song, "Hold Me Til The Morning Comes," a 1983 song, by Paul Anka
and Peter Cetera.
The next track is "The Hurt," a minot hit. Again, I don't really hear how R&B comes into play, it is another song that has the familiar sound from
his previous albums. It's a good song to mention, although this song didn't get as much popularity as his past well-known hits. Likewise, "How Many Times" is
another familiar Cat Stevens song in sound, however his voice here does have a more soulful try. And as the song progresses, it does have a somewhat soulful sound
as heard in Van Morrison songs (especially the piano). And, then there's the track "Later" -- it is definitely soulful, and fitting the R&B style heard back
in the 1970s. You wouldn'think of this song as Cat Stevens. He gives it a good attempt here. It's easily compared to another soulful 1970s artist -- Isaac Hayes.
Ending the album is another familiar Cat Stevens in sound, "100 I Dream."
Foreigner didn't become as popular as his previous albums, yet the main attraction from the album, is the 18-minute "Foreigner Suite." Cat wanted
to try a different approach, that is, in R&B music. There are some spots here and there that you could say its there (like the soulful wah wah guitars heard in both
"Later" and "100 I Dream." Even so, his attempt in recording new music at that time, it all comes to the conclusion that Cat Stevens recorded yet
another incredible and worth listening to album in his career. In reading past reviews of Foreigner it was rated negatively. This was probably due the more
darker lyrics in the songs, as compared to previous lyrics, which were more positive. But in placing those darker lyrics aside, and listening to the songs'
qaulities, negative is not the case. The "Foreigner Suite" is the highlight. It is a great assortment of melodies and instrumental filler, eight parts in
total. The remaining songs still shows that he can still record (and produce, in which he self-produced this album himself). Despite the darker lyrics, some of
the songs could have received more radio airplay, likewise, adding the "newest Cat Stevens songs" along with the common popular songs of the day, back in the year
it was released, in 1973. Four more albums would be released by Cat, from 1974 to 1978. And, like Foreigner, there would be no real popular songs from them.
By 1977 he would change his name to Yusef Islam, and in 1979 he would leave the music business, devoting himself to the Muslim community. He would record albums
of Muslim faith, as many as 11. He would return to music in 2006. He would record three albums under his changed name. Although in 2017, he would use both names,
as Yusef / Cat Stevens.
Cat Stevens' Foreigner is a good album. As mentioned, it wasn't as popular as his previous albums, but he was still talented in developing new music.
As for the negative reviewers, they have stated that his music was of lame nature, as well as many would point out the lameness of the music of the 1970s decade.
I argue on that, 100%. The music of the 1970s provided many different variety styles of music. Rock, Soul, Country, Disco, Pop. There was so much to choose from.
Sure, there were some songs from that decades that were better than others, and yes, some that could be forgetful. But overall, the variety was there, and that
is what made the 1970s decade so unique. Lame or preferred not, Cat Stevens is a legend, and his continuation of "Cat Stevens Albums" proves that. And being a
legend, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in 2014.
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