Cat Stevens / Izitso – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

TWO AMAZING SIDES, including THE BEST SIDE TWO WE’VE EVER HEARD! We just finished our first shootout for Izitso, and this was the overall champion with an A++ side one backed with an AGAIG A+++ side two. It’s no Teaser and the Firecat, but there’s enough Cat Stevens magic here to satisfy casual fans and die-hards alike. 

It wouldn’t be unfair to call this Stevens’ disco album, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great songs on here. Old Schoolyard is a great uptempo rocker, while Life — on a good copy — is pure audiophile gold. Child For A Day, which closes out side two, is great as well — it sounds like many of the gems from Cat’s earlier albums. The instrumental track Was Dog A Doughnut? (featuring Chick Corea) certainly ain’t our cup of tea, but we imagine some of you will have fun with its synthesized dog barks and its goofy electronic vibe. If you were a fan of Herbie Hancock’s work in the ’80s, you’ll probably get a kick out of all those synths and sequencers.

Two Knockout Sides

Side one is airy, open, and spacious, yet incredibly full-bodied. The bottom end has the kind of WHOMP that brings a song like Old Schoolyard to life! Check out the delicate acoustic guitars on Life, with just the right amount of pluck.

Side two has MASTER TAPE SOUND. Everything you’d hope for on a record like this is here: breathy vocals, amazing transparency and clarity, depth to the soundfield, note-like bass, and wonderful richness and sweetness.

The edgy, honky vocals that make most copies so unpleasant are nowhere to be found here.

Good Ol’ Bernie

Bernie Grundman mastered this album, and the average pressing shows off a few of his unfortunate trademarks: honky vocals and a gritty, hard sound to the midrange, just to name a couple.

The best stampers for this record are simply the ones that have the most correct tonal balance from top to bottom. The copies that err even a bit on the bright side will be practically unlistenable at times, and the dull ones will put you to sleep.