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Kitten Stevens
by Thanos Kalamidas
Issue 7
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First Cuts
Cat Stevens
Decca records, 1989
Does the name Yusuf Islam say anything to you? You might have read something about this name a few months ago when the FBI and American customs forbid him entry to the US because he had suspected links with terrorists. Since this is not a rare phenomenon nowadays he would never have been on the news if he wasn’t more known with a different name: Cat Stevens.

If you think that Cat Stevens is his real name then again you are wrong, since the man with the many faces was born Stephen Demerits Georgiou. I wanted to start with his different identities not because I have any issues with his changes but mainly because I recently found a record that was released in 1989 and it is a totally different face of an artist I really like.

Cat Stevens’ First Cuts features ‘Here comes my baby’, ‘I love my dog’, ‘I’m gonna get me a gun’, so it is probably the last one that was the reason the FBI had issues with him. However, he composed the song in 1966, forty years before.

‘Mathew & Son’, ‘Kitty’, ‘Northern wind’ all have the familiar metallic voice of Cat Stevens, but it is also the voice of a boy. When he composed these songs he was just 18, he was Stephen Demerits Georgiou and when he released them he was a man, Cat Stevens.

I’m sure Cat Stevens’ fans are already familiar with the songs and probably have heard the album. For me, it was a revelation. I have always liked Cat Stevens and I have a few of his albums, but listening to First Cuts I felt something connect with the singer and my youth. I remembered an evening on a Greek island, sat next to the sea playing guitar for friends and slowly singing all together, more whispering the songs because that’s exactly what this record is. It’s an artist with his guitar playing for his friends.

The father Greek, the mother Swedish, he was living in London where his father owned a Greek restaurant. You can hear the influence of all these cultures in his songs. ‘Blackness in the night’, ‘I’ve found love’, ‘Lady’ are just small examples of this multicultural personality that continued all his life adding new faces and identities.

My favorite song from the record is the last one, ‘The first cut is the deepest’ and I must admit that I was surprised to find out that he composed it when he was only 17. I think that shows something.

If you like Cat Stevens you will definitely like this recording and thanks to Amazon it is easy to find.

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