Cat’s Musical Comeback
Yusuf Islam is hoping fans will remember him with a smile. And an open wallet.
The singer-songwriter formerly known as Cat Stevens has announced plans to release An Other Cup, his first pop album in nearly three decades, this November.
The “Wild World” singer has teamed with Atlantic Records and his own Ya label to distribute the album, the release of which will mark the 40th anniversary of the folk singer’s first record, I Love My Dog.
“There were one hundred reasons for leaving the music industry back in 1979, not least because I had found what I was looking for spiritually,” the 59-year-old said. “Today there are perhaps one hundred and one good reasons why I feel right making music and singing about life in this fragile world again.
“It is important for me to be able to help bridge the cultural gaps others are sometimes frightened to cross.”
The singer changed his name in 1977 shortly after a near-death drowning inspired him to convert to Islam and took a new name. His last secular studio album, Back to Earth, was released in 1978. The following year, he announced his retirement from the music biz.
While he has released a handful of religious recordings over the years, it took until 2005 for Islam to issue another mainstream song, “Indian Ocean.” Proceeds from the download-only track went to benefit victims of the tsunami that had devastated Southeast Asia. The same year, he played guitar on a Dolly Parton album and recorded a duet with Ronan Keating.
This time around, Islam is returning full-force to his pop roots. The 12-track album includes a cover of the raucous Animals hit “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”; the Islam-penned ditty “Heaven/Where True Love Goes” will be the debut single.
“We are all truly fortunate that Yusuf has chosen this moment to return to contemporary music,” Atlantic Chairman Craig Kallman said, describing the first time he heard the music man’s comeback album a “chilling” experience.
Atlantic has already announced plans for Islam to promote the album this fall, promising that every precaution will be taken to ensure the singer doesn’t inadvertently set into motion any international incidents.
In 2004, his London-based flight to the U.S. was diverted, he was denied entry to the U.S. after his name popped up on a Homeland Security no-fly watch list “for activities potentially related to terrorism.” Islam was held for questioning in Maine before his eventual deportation to the U.K.
Arsalan Iftikhar, the national legal director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told Bloomberg News that the his group and the label “don’t anticipate any problems in the future when [Islam] arrives.”
After all, nobody wants to derail the Peace Train.
Cat’s Musical Comeback