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Non-Prog DVD/Video Reviews

Cat Stevens

Majikat DVD

Review by Gary Hill

When Cat Stevens, at the time a superstar, embraced Islam, he changed his name and left behind his music career and lifestyle. His 1976 Majikat tour had been filmed, but with his withdrawal the tapes were left on the shelf until now. Now with his new name, Yusuf Islam, and new lifestyle well established, he has decided to lift the veil and become a public figure again. He's finally releasing a DVD of this film as part of that effort.

I must confess to not knowing a lot about Cat Stevens before this video, but upon watching the concert video I realized that I really did know a lot of his work. The film itself is a very professional production that holds up well, even with today's higher standards. The music, much of it performed basically solo, has an upbeat cheery feel that seems a bit dated now. Who says we can't use some sunshine in this world, though? Giving a solid listening to the lyrics, there is a great depth to be found, too. Although his strumming and vocal style does feel a bit repetitive, the lyrics often touch on powerful, deeper themes. Some of the tracks do feature a full band, and all the musicians put in a strong showing.

For my money, the coolest part of this video, though, is the three-part interview. Yusuf explains during this section that when he left the music business he stopped talking to the media. He said that that lead to a lot of journalists simply making up stories about him. This interview should surely clear up a lot of the misconceptions. He comes across as a very humble, honest and self-aware man - as they say in the rap world - real. I truly felt like I was getting a glimpse of a man who turned his back on all the money and fame to pursue a higher purpose was truly inspiring. This alone is worth the price of admission.

There are other bonus features here, too, though. They start off with the encore to the Majikat tour, and most of the bonuses are live performances on various shows. It does, though, include a cool animation video from Teaser and the Firecat. While it comes across as very dated and a bit weird, there is something quite charming about it.

I can't emphasize enough how good this package is. They seem to have paid a lot of attention to detail here. The booklet even includes a reproduction of the original program from the tour. Fans of Stevens/Islam should find this a dream come true. I can certainly attest to the fact that it is quite entertaining for the uninitiated, as well.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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