|Studio album by|
|Recorded||18 September 1976 – March 1977|
|Studio||Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Sheffield, Alabama;|
Sound 80 Studios, Minneapolis;
Ardent Studios, Memphis, Tennessee;
Le Studio, Morin Heights, Quebec, Canada
Sweet Silence Studios, Copenhagen, Denmark
|Genre||Soft rock, folk rock, blue-eyed soul, electronic rock, synthpop|
|Cat Stevens chronology|
Izitso is the tenth studio album released by the British singer-songwriter Cat Stevens in April 1977. After the lacklustre Numbers, the album proved to be his comeback. The album updated the rhythmic folk rock and pop rock style of his earlier albums with the extensive use of synthesizers and other electronic music instruments, giving the album a more electronic rock and synthpop style, and anticipating elements of electro.
Upon its release, the music magazine Rolling Stone praised the album for blending together elements of folk rock and electronic music, "often in apparent opposition to each other", with "the diversity and the maturity to match this seeming incongruity." The album reached No. 7 on the American Pop Albums charts.
It also included his last US and UK top 40 chart hit for almost three decades, "(Remember the Days of the) Old Schoolyard", an early synthpop song that used the Polymoog, an early polyphonic synthesizer; it was a duet with fellow UK singer Elkie Brooks. Linda Lewis appears in the song's video, with Cat Stevens singing to her, as they portray former schoolmates, singing to each other on a schoolyard merry-go-round. (This is one of the few music videos that Stevens made, other than simple videos of concert performances.)
The song "Was Dog a Doughnut?" upon release was criticised for sounding "a bit too robotlike" but has since been considered one of the first electro, or techno-pop, songs ever recorded, with elements later associated with hip hop music. The track made early use of a music sequencer along with synthesizers. In an interview for Uncut in 2014, Yusuf (Stevens) explains his inspiration for the song:
In the '70s, there was an article that made me furious, but also made me laugh, called "Was God An Astronaut?" The whole premise of putting God into a space rocket was so outrageous I just decided to have a go and wrote that song.[better source needed]
The song "(I Never Wanted) To Be a Star" references the transition phase happening in his life, as he was growing more and more resentful of the more commercial aspects of the music industry. The lyrics make references to four of his early songs: "Matthew and Son", "I'm Gonna Get Me a Gun", "A Bad Night", and "I Think I See the Light".
Some of the album's unreleased tracks featured Ringo Starr on the drums, during a recording session on 30 September 1976. According to The Beatles biographer Kristofer Engelhardt in 1998, "Yusuf said that he met Ringo at a hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark, and invited him down to a recording session for his album Izitso at Sweet Silence Studios in Copenhagen. He recalled that the party atmosphere of the sessions led to a jam of him singing 'Blue Monday' and 'I Just Want to Make Love to You,' with Ringo joining in on drums." Bootleg copies of the sessions exist.
Stevens, who had a strong interest in Islam prior to recording the album, formally converted to Islam later in the year and adopted the name Yusuf Islam in 1978, by which time the album Back to Earth would be released and Islam had essentially retired from the music business. It would be nearly 30 years before he would again perform Cat Stevens songs.
A piano/vocal sheet music book with every song from the album was published in 1977, approved by Stevens, with arrangements by Los Angeles musician Laddie Chapman.
All tracks composed by Cat Stevens, except where indicated
|Australia (Kent Music Report)||39|
|United Kingdom (Official Charts Company)||18|
|United States (Billboard 200)||7|
|Canada (Music Canada)||Gold||50,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||60,000^|
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.