Cat Stevens
Teaser and the Firecat Deluxe Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars
Reviewed for Coffeerooms by Mike Jefferson

This isn't a tease, cats, but it's an album with plenty of fire. Cat Stevens' fifth and best album, "Teaser and the Firecat" is now twice as pleasurable. A & M records has remastered the album and added a second disc containing live performances and demos, plus a twenty-plus page booklet with liner notes from Stevens (aka "Yusef Islam"), producer Paul Samwell-Smith, and Cat's long-time guitarist Alun Davies.

"Teaser" combines up-tempo reggae-based folk rockers ("Bitterblue," "Changes IV," "Tuesday's Dead") with earnest ballads ("If I Laugh," "How Can I Tell You," "The Wind") and hopeful hippie hymns ("Peacetrain," "Morning Has Broken"). In successfully blending together these three musical elements, Stevens' often autobiographical material brings to mind the cerebral musings of the tragic British balladeer Nick Drake. Stevens called "Teaser" and his previous album, "Tea for the Tillerman" (which contained his signature tune, "Wild World") yin and yang efforts. "Tea" was designated "the day"; "Tillerman" "the night." If that's the case, I say, "Bring on the night."

"If I Laugh" is, for me, Stevens' best track, an ode to a love that could have been if he'd generated enough nerve to make the first move. (Yes, even the normally unflappable MJ has suffered the consequences of being the man who has hesitated and lost.) Stevens' aching whisper of a voice relates the moment you saw the person you love walking along with someone else: "If I laugh, just a little bit, maybe I can forget the chance that I didn't have, to know you and live in peace, in peace."