Cat Stevens Updates Masterpiece, ‘Tea For the Tillerman’

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The original 1970 cover

Cat Stevens has reimagined his 1970 album, Tea For the Tillerman, with a new recording of the classic. Tea for the Tillerman² arrived on Sept. 18 via UMe, 50 years after the original, multi-platinum selling, era-defining album that made him a superstar. Listen to many of the updated versions of Stevens favorites below.

The London-born Stevens, who also goes by Yusuf, recast the same eleven songs including “Wild World,” which became his first U.S. hit. The album, which reached #8 in the U.S. where it has sold in excess of three million copies, also includes such favorites as “Father and Son,” “Miles From Nowhere,” and “Longer Boats.” He turned 72 on July 21; he was 22 when Tea for the Tillerman was released on Nov. 23, 1970.

As “Father and Son” reaches its 50th anniversary, it continues to endure as deeply as ever in the hearts of listeners, a true song for all times. This brand new version sees Stevens singing both parts of the song – the role of the father brought together digitally with a recording of his younger-self, in the role of the son, originally recorded at his historic premiere performance at the legendary Troubadour in Los Angeles in 1970.

Watch the video for “Father and Son”

A stop-motion video for “Where Do the Children Play,” from director Chris Hopewell, features sets and practically all props made from recycled repurposed and up-cycled materials.

From the original May 28 announcement: The album cover of T4TT² illustrates the same picturesque ‘Tea-Time’ scene that adorned the original album, fifty years later. The Tillerman has returned from an expedition to outer space only to discover a world that has become decidedly darker. The two toddlers, Grady and Timmy, are still playing next to him – this time streaming the latest music and gaming on their mobile phones.

The 2020 edition

The concept for Tea for the Tillerman² grew out of a conversation, fittingly, between Yusuf and his son about how to celebrate the album’s 50th anniversary. This gave birth to the idea of reimagining and re-recording the songs.

The original album’s producer, Paul Samwell-Smith, was contacted and a week was booked at La Fabrique Studios, in the South of France in the Summer of 2019, close to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence where Van Gogh painted some of his most famous works. The whole experience was filmed.

Watch the video for the new version of “On the Road to Find Out”

From the announcement: Stevens has dedicated much of his life towards forging positive changes to embrace peace, sustainability and the betterment of humanity. Today that can be witnessed through his far-reaching Peace Train project, which focuses on delivering essential food relief and self-sustainable initiatives to impoverished communities; building solar-wells, children’s playgrounds, as well as peace-training, bridging divides and delivering hope to those who need it most.

On Father’s Day, Stevens released a live performance of “Father and Son”

Most of the 11 songs were written by a young 22-year-old Stevens in and around his native Soho habitat at the tail end of the swinging ‘60s, but here are sung and played after a lifetime of introspection, development and a fresh perspective.

Listen to the updated version of “Longer Boats”

Listen to the original version of “Wild World”

This ad for the original album appeared in the Jan. 30, 1971, edition of Record World

‘Though my songwriting adventures were never limited to Tillerman, the songs on that album certainly defined me and pointed the way for my mysterious life’s journey,” he says. “Since those originative sessions in Morgan Studios, Willesden, in 1970, Tillerman has grown and developed its own gravitas and influence on music history and as the soundtrack to so many people’s lives. Like it was destiny waiting to happen, T4TT² feels like the timing of its message has arrived again.”

For the new edition, Stevens also reunited with guitarist Alun Davies. They are joined by Bruce Lynch on bass, a member of Yusuf’s band from the mid-70s. Guitarist Eric Appapoulay and multi-instrumentalist Kwame Yeboah on percussion and keys represent Yusuf’s current live band and they are supported by Jim Cregan on guitar and Peter Vettese on keys. The session was engineered by David Hefti who has contributed to Yusuf’s sound live and in the studio for close to ten years.

Watch the video for the updated version of “Wild World”

Stevens has canceled his 2020 tour due to the pandemic. When he does tour, tickets are available here.

Related: Our review of a 2016 Stevens concert

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