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Teaser And The Firecat'
Tea For The Tillerman (200g)Ranked 206/500 on Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
When word got out that we were beginning a pressing plant, customers began to call with questions. And the most common and full-of-anticipation question was inevitably: What will be the first title that you press? Well, we couldn't possibly imagine hitting a bigger home run than to open Quality Record Pressings (QRP) with one of the all-time most classic audiophile records, Cat Stevens' Tea for the Tillerman from 1970.
There are so many things perfect about this release. First and foremost, it's a masterpiece of a record. It's that rare record that couples breathtaking sound with hit after hit after hit. In fact, to list the hits would be to list the entire song list. We couldn't pick a better vehicle for which to show off what we're so confident will be the highest quality records ever pressed.
But here's something else that's cool: We scored the absolute original analog masters, and the tapes were in impeccable condition. It took an unbelievable amount of digging and research - and luck - to get this project done to the standards of Analogue Productions. But, wow, was it ever worth it! The tapes were last used in December 1999 when Ted Jensen at Sterling, along with producer Paul Samwell-Smith, remastered the Cat Stevens catalog for CD.
In 1970, Lee Hulko at Sterling Sound cut Tea For The Tillerman for A&M Records in the U.S. and Island Records in the UK using a Telefunken M10 tape machine and a Neumann VMS 66 lathe with a Neumann SX68 cutterhead. Hulko started Sterling in 1968 and was its original mastering engineer. He's considered among the first engineers to advance mastering from just transferring music from tape to lacquer to an art where attention is paid to all the details that result in better sound. We actually found Hulko's original mastering notes from more than 40 years ago. It's incredible, but Sterling still has all of their notes filed away.
So, it was originally cut at Sterling - as were all of the early original Cat Stevens albums - and the tapes were last used at Sterling. How appropriate then that we should go back to Sterling for this monumental reissue. Using the original tapes, George Marino handled the mastering this time. He used an Ampex ATR-102 tape machine, another significant point of interest. While Ampex has long been revered for their sound, they had never made a preview version so that a mastering engineer could cut a lacquer from an Ampex machine. Mike Spitz at ATR Services made a unique preview modification for Sterling so that they could cut this record using an Ampex. Marino then used a Neumann VMS 80 lathe with a Neumann SX 74 cutterhead.
I think we've gotten something quite a bit better than what was originally issued, Marino says. I think this version is much more representative of what was on the tape. And that's not a criticism of what was originally done.
Marino points out that since the original issue, there have been advancements in cutting lathe technology that make the improvements of this reissue possible.
You didn't have the same number of options that you have in the new Neumann electronics, Marino says. With the new one, they give you more variations to work with. Let's say there's a nice kind of present sounding acoustic guitar on the left channel and then all of the sudden there's a drum peak with cymbal crashes and stuff and that stuff happens to be on the left channel. Being the vocal is down the center, you can drive the high frequency limiter from the right channel. So you can set a threshold on the right channel and grab the vocal without wiping out some of the musical peaks on the left channel. This is what I talk about when I say that we have technical advantages that they didn't have.
Marino also chose to use a wide-track stereo head for this project, which he said allows for better signal-to-noise than the normal stereo head.
And he also decided against using tube electronics, as would have been used originally, because he says that while the tubes allowed for more warmth, they also made the sound duller.
You wind up wanting to put a little top-end EQ or something to get a little something back (when using tubes), Marino explains of his decision.
Marino says that he is very pleased with the results.
A great record. A classic, he says. And those tapes were in excellent, excellent condition. Musically, I think we've got something that sounds richer and more natural. It sounds more correct. I had to do very, very little to the tape regarding EQ processing or anything.
To package this reissue, we've decided to do a facsimile of the original British Island gatefold jacket rather than the non-gatefold U.S. version. This British jacket also has a textured paper stock on the inside and is glossy on the outside. Additionally, we're using the original pink Island label.
So there you have it. Quality Record Pressings is off and pressing in a big, big way! Finally, we're ready to unveil the innovations in record pressing that we've been working on for more than a year. Among those innovations are the installations of microprocessors on the presses so that all of the presses functions are performed with absolute precision. For example, we've developed a dye with an imbedded temperature sensor that we can use to cycle the presses. Rather than having the presses close and open based on time - as it's been to date - these presses will close and open based on temperature, the far more accurate indicator of when the record is ready. We also have a plating department in Quality Record Pressings, run by the best plating man in the business, Gary Salstrom.
Still to come from Analogue Productions pressed at Quality Record Pressings will be the Cat Stevens classics Teaser and the Firecat and Catch Bull at Four.
Tea For The Tillerman is one of Cat Stevens' finest albums and a gem in the crown of early 1970s singer/songwriterdom. Stevens manages to have his cake and eat it too, simultaneously achieving pop accessibility and artistic relevance. The feel is decidedly gentle and spare. Apart from the occasional string section, Stevens is accompanied only by a three-piece band as he sings his introspective lyrics with appreciable favor.1. Where Do The Children Play?
2. Hard Headed Woman
3. Wild World
4. Sad Lisa
5. Miles From Nowhere
6. But I Might Die Tonight
7. Longer Boats
8. Into White
9. On The Road To Find Out
10. Father And Son
11. Tea For The Tillerman$49.99200 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Roadsinger (To Warm You Through The NIght)With his reintroduction to the pop world behind him, renowned singer-songwriter Yusuf (the artist known as Cat Stevens) is ready to once again strike up an intimate relationship with his audience. After retreating from the pop stage following classic '70s multi-platinum albums such as Tea For The Tillerman and Teaser And The Firecat and acclaimed hits such as Wild World, Peace Train, Moonshadow, Morning Has Broken and Father And Son, Yusuf returned in late 2006 with his first pop album in 28 years. Now he's back again with a second album, Roadsinger (To Warm You Through The Night).
I was absent from my audience for so long, Yusuf says, people thought another album would never come. The 2006 album, An Other Cup, was a surprise. With this new album, the distance is much less. I'm back to doing what I do best, painting pictures with music and storytelling on a very human, personal, intuitive level through lyrics and song, so I can help people feel good again. I guess in some ways the new album picks up where the Cat Stevens the public knows left off.
The album, Roadsinger (To Warm You Through The Night), was produced by the now singularly named Yusuf with help from Martin Terefe (James Morrison, Jason Mraz, Martha Wainwright), and recorded around the world. Guests include Morrison, Michelle Branch and Holly Williams (granddaughter of Hank Williams, Sr.).
The new album is a response to the way An Other Cup was received, Yusuf explains. Fans said they wanted to hear more of me with a guitar. So, this album is much more folk-tale oriented. Also, apart from one track, all of it was recorded live. I listened to a lot of' '70s L.A. music, such as Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Carole King, and it inspired me to go back into that intimate style of recording. The songs are somewhat autobiographical but abstract enough so everyone can relate to them and connect them to their own lives.
The title track, Roadsinger, unfolds the tale of an outcast who revisits his old hometown; along the empty street a child peeks from behind a store window and gives an innocent smile out of the shadows of prejudice. The theme of a journey has always been big with me, says Yusuf. A journey that was unexpectedly cut short in 2004 was when Yusuf was flying from his London home to Washington, D.C., en route to a meeting with Dolly Parton, who had recorded Peace Train several years earlier and wanted Yusuf to play guitar on her cover of his Where Do the Children Play. The incident that made headlines was resolved in 2006 and Yusuf's new song Boots and Sand resulted.
There are plenty people who sing, but not enough who have walked far from their block, he says. I embraced an unexpected spiritual path that was confusing for many (converting to Islam in 1977). Sadly, I'm still often misunderstood. Some people want to put me into their own one-sided view, but I don't fit those limitations. My world is still borderless and wide. The removal of conflict and establishment of peace has always been my global objective. It's a shame that lot of people, including some Muslims, overlook the name Islam, which actually comes from the word 'Peace' in Arabic.
The forthcoming album also showcases some songs from his upcoming musical Moonshadow. The story takes place on a planet of perpetual night where only the moon's shine lights the darkness; it is about a boy's meeting with his Moonshadow and the adventures they share in search for the a world of the sunlight and happiness. As well as having many new songs, the surrealistic musical, Moonshadow also weaves classic songs from his past, including Morning Has Broken, Wild World and The First Cut Is The Deepest.
Yusuf's return to his guitar came about when his teenage artist-musician son, Muhammad (aka Yoriyos), brought one home again. One morning, Yusuf was alone in the lounge when he looked over and felt a draw of curiosity overtake him. He slowly picked it up. I put my fingers on the fretboard to make a 'C' chord, he remembers, and surprised myself, It's still there! It felt right. So I started playing again. On the forthcoming album, Yusuf even plays electric guitar on a couple of tracks, along with keyboards. This part of my career feels similar in one sense to when I began, Yusuf reflects. I had to get past the songs on Mona Bone Jakon before I could move on to Tea For The Tillerman, etc. This time around it was the same story: I laid the groundwork with my debut album, An Other Cup, which inspired a great new collection of songs and scribblings. I had quite a few in my back pocket and again it was my son who sparked the next step. He said, 'Isn't it time to start recording a new album?' And it was.
1. Welcome Home
2. Thinking 'Bout You
3. Everytime I Dream
4. The Rain
5. World O'Darkness
6. To Be What You Must
7. This Glass World
9. All Kinds Of Roses
10. Dream On (Until...)
11. Shamsia$24.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
The Laughing Apple (Pre-Order)The Laughing Apple celebrates the 50th anniversary of the artist's 1967 debut, Matthew and Son, and will come out on Yusuf / Cat Stevens' Cat-O-Log Records imprint, via Decca, the label he worked with back then. It also reunites him with producer Paul Samwell-Smith, who helmed Tea for the Tillerman, Teaser and the Firecat and other releases from his early-Seventies heyday.
Among the old songs that Yusuf / Cat Stevens revived and revamped for The Laughing Apple are Mighty Peace and Mary and the Little Lamb, neither of which ever made it onto an album. Four other songs, including the title track, appeared in their original forms on his 1967 LP New Masters. And You Can Do (Whatever) was originally intended for the Harold and Maude soundtrack but was left unfinished at the time. Many of my earlier recordings were overcooked with big band arrangements, he explains in a press release of his decision to revisit this material. They crowded the song out a lot of times.1. Blackness of the Night
2. See What Love Did to Me
3. The Laughing Apple
4. Olive Hill
6. Mighty Peace
7. Mary and the Little Lamb
8. You Can Do (Whatever)
9. Northern Wind (Death of Billy the Kid)
10. Don't Blame Them
11. I'm So Sleepy$25.99Vinyl LP - Sealed PRE-ORDER Buy Now