Catch Bull at Four
Catch Bull at Four is a pivotal record in Cat Stevens' career. You can hear the man who holds out hope for the human race hedging his bets. Where his previous albums—Mona Bone Jakon, Tea for the Tillerman, and Teaser and the Firecat—centered on a sweet accessibility where all could be said within the format of a folk-pop single, Catch Bull at Four is more obscure. Its best moments don’t attract quick listeners but are meant for those who've been following him and his spiritual concerns. There’s great tension to “Sitting” and “Angelsea,” songs that come closer to rock ’n’ roll drama than anything previously in Stevens’ catalog—but “bleeding half my soul in bad company” is an ominous warning. “Can’t Keep It In” lays out his frustrations with the pop world, for all to see. Even the rhythms express his difficulty reconciling the life he’d worked himself into with the spiritual life he craved. “18th Avenue (Kansas City Nightmare)” follows, showing that Stevens was in a line of work not suited to his temperament. The religious imagery sewn throughout gives good directions for his eventual future.