Izitso is the tenth studio album released by the British singer-songwriter Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam) 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.
|Studio album by|
|Recorded||18 September 1976 – March 1977,|
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|
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, and are highly prized among collectors.
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, vowing to never perform any of his music from before 1977 for nearly 30 years.
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)
- "(Remember the Days of the) Old Schoolyard" – 2:44 (duet with Elkie Brooks)
- "Life" – 4:56
- "Killin' Time" – 3:30
- "Kypros" [instr] – 3:10
- "Bonfire" – 4:10
- Cat Stevens – Epiphone Casino electric guitar, Ovation guitar, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, steel guitar, guitar synthesizer, bouzouki, keyboards, piano, celesta, harpsichord, Wurlitzer electric piano, Fender Rhodes, Polymoog, Moog synthesizer, Minimoog, ARP String Synthesizer, ARP 2600, Yamaha CS-80, Yamaha GX-1, Yamaha EA5R electronic organ, music sequencer, drums, percussion, harmonica, brass, arrangements, vocals
- Jean Roussel – Hammond organ, piano, organ, synthesizer, ARP String Synthesizer, Yamaha CS-80, keyboards, flute, glockenspiel, vibraphone, string instruments, brass instruments, arrangements
- David Campbell – string and brass arrangements
- Chick Corea – electric piano, keyboards on "Bonfire" and "Was Dog a Doughnut?"
- Barry Beckett – piano, electric piano, organ, keyboards on "Killin' Time" and "Child for a Day"
- Tim Henson – acoustic piano, piano, organ, keyboards on "Killin' Time" and "Child for a Day"
- Little Brother Montgomery – ARP 2600 on "Was Dog a Doughnut?"
- Broderick Smith – harmonica on "Sweet Jamaica"
- Marjorie Lagerwall – harp on "Sweet Jamaica"
- Ray Gomez – guitar on "Was Dog A Doughnut?"
- Pete Carr – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, steel guitar, ovation guitar, Epiphone Casino, guitar synthesizer, bouzouki
- Jim Johnson – rhythm guitar on "Killin' Time"
- Weldon Myrick – steel guitar on "(I Never Wanted) to Be a Star"
- Reggie Young – electric guitar on "(I Never Wanted) to Be a Star"
- Bruce Lynch – double bass, electbass, bass synthesizer
- David Hood – double bass, bass, bass synthesizer on "Killin' Time" and "Child for a Day"
- Andy Newmark – drums, percussion on "(Remember the Days of the) Old Schoolyard" and "Kypros" and "Bonfire" and "Sweet Jamaica"
- Bill Berg – drums, percussion on "Life" and "(I Never Wanted) to Be a Star" and "Crazy"
- Barry Morgan – drums, percussion "Life" and "Was Dog a Doughnut?"
- Roger Hawkins – drums, percussion on "Killin' Time" and "Child for a Day"
- Elkie Brooks – Vocals on "(Remember the Days of the) Old Schoolyard"
- Suzanne Lynch – backing vocals on "(Remember the Days of the) Old Schoolyard" and "Life" and "Sweet Jamaica"
- Carla Benson – backing vocals on "Sweet Jamaica"
- Evette Benton – backing vocals on "Sweet Jamaica"
- Barbara Ingram – backing vocals on "Sweet Jamaica"
- Gene Page – string instruments, brass instruments, arrangements
- Producers – Cat Stevens, Dave Kershenbaum
- Engineers – Harvey Goldberg, Mike Stavros, Ian Boughey, Nigel Walker, Flemming Rasmussen, Tom Jung, Paul Martinson, Nick Blagona, Mike Ross, Freddy Hansson, Steve Brandon, Jerry Masters, Gene Eichelberger, Dee Robb, John Kelly, Ken Frieson
- Mastering – Ted Jensen, Bernie Grundman
- Mixing – Claude Dupras
- Design – Mathieu Bitton
- Programming – Cat Stevens, Claude Dupras
- Supervisor – Bill Levenson
- Illustrations – Cat Stevens
- Cover Designs – Cat Stevens, Eckford Stimpson
- Photography – Moshe Brakha
- Coordinator – Beth Stempel
|1977||(Remember the Days of the) Old Schoolyard||Pop Singles||33|
|1977||(Remember the Days of the) Old Schoolyard||Easy Listening||28|
|1977||Was Dog A Doughnut||Pop Singles||70|
Certifications and salesEdit
|Canada (Music Canada)||Gold||50,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||60,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
- "Izitso". connollyco.com. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
- Allmusic review
- Walters, Charley (28 July 1977). "Cat Stevens: Izitso". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
- "Izitso". Allmusic. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
- "Cat Stevens – Izitso". A&M Records. Discogs. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
- "Cat Stevens – Izitso". Island Records. Discogs. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
- David Toop (March 1996), "A-Z of Electro", The Wire (145), retrieved 29 May 2011
- "Was Dog a Doughnut? by Cat Stevens - Songfacts". www.songfacts.com. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
- "CAT STEVENS & RINGO STARR JAM SESSION". Majicat. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- Reiter, Amy (14 August 1999). "People: Cat Stevens". Salon. p. 2. Archived from the original on 3 February 2009. Retrieved 11 February 2009.
- "Canadian album certifications – Cat Stevens – Izitso". Music Canada. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
- "British album certifications – Cat Stevens – Izitso". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 11 June 2019. Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Izitso in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.