Cat Stevens – Mona Bone Jakon – Listening in Depth

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More Reviews and Commentaries for Mona Bone Jakon

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When you hear I Wish I Wish and I Think I See The Light on a Hot Stamper copy you will be convinced, as I am, that this is one of the greatest popular recordings in the history of the world. I don’t know of ANY other album that has more LIFE and MUSICAL ENERGY than this one. 

Right off the bat I want to say this is a work of GENIUS. Cat Stevens made three records that belong in the Pantheon of greatest popular recordings of all time. In the world of folk-pop, Mona Bone Jakon, Teaser and the Firecat and Tea for the Tillerman have few peers. There may be other recordings that are as good but there are no other recordings that are better.


In-Depth Track Commentary

Side One

Lady d’Arbanville

This track will always be a little bright. It was supposed to be a hit song, and hit songs are frequently mixed a little bright.

Maybe You’re Right
Pop Star
I Think I See the Light

This is the real test for side one. On the better copies this track will really ROCK. The bass will be very punchy, the piano will be full-bodied and Cat’s voice, although straining in places, will be mostly correct throughout.

At the end of this song there’s a powerful piano chord accompanied by an acoustic guitar, almost a kind of a coda, that is very dynamic and full-bodied with prodigious amounts of low end weight, or whomp as we like to call it. If you have the system for it and are playing the record at good loud levels and the sound of that note doesn’t positively startle you, it’s unlikely that you have a copy with a very good side one.

Trouble

A sweet acoustic guitar number — one of the best tracks on the album. The guitars and the voices should have that Tea For The Tillerman quality. On the best pressings they always do.

Side Two

Mona Bone Jakon
I Wish, I Wish

The most telling track on side two. The band is at its most energetic. There are powerful piano chords and bass notes which anchor the song, but what you most often find on potentially good copies is that the high hat and cymbal work on this track are a little dull. On the good copies the drums really cut through the mix and jump out at you. There will be some pressings on the site that will have this shortcoming and be noted as such. The really good pressings are alive in a way that the duller side two copies only hint at.

Katmandu
Time
Fill My Eyes
Lilywhite


Further Reading

We have a large number of entries in our new Listening in Depth series.

We have a section for Audio Advice of all kinds.

You can find your very own Hot Stamper pressings by using the techniques we lay out in Hot Stamper Shootouts — The Four Pillars of Success.

And finally we’ll throw in this old warhorse discussing How to Become an Expert Listener, subtitled Hard Work and Challenges Can Really Pay Off.

Because in audio, much like the rest of life, hard work and challenges really do pay off.

AMG Review

Under the production aegis of former Yardbird Paul Samwell-Smith, he introduced a group of simple, heartfelt songs played in spare arrangements on acoustic guitars and keyboards and driven by a restrained rhythm section. Built on folk and blues structures, but with characteristically compelling melodies, Stevens’ new compositions were tentative, fragmentary statements that alluded to his recent “Trouble,” including the triviality of being a “Pop Star.