Universal Music Catalogue are to reissue Cat Stevens’ first two albums ‘Matthew & Son’ and ‘New Masters’ on 27th March, available on vinyl for the first time since 1982. Exquisitely ‘De-mixed’ with enhanced vocals at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios, both albums will be available on 180 gram vinyl with fully restored artwork.
Featuring newly enhanced vocals, Abbey Road Studios has used their revolutionary ‘Demix’ software on the original master tapes to reinvigorate and breathe new life into both albums. Where vocals have always been buried by the subsequent orchestral backing track, ‘Demixing’ enables the studio to digitally extract and enhance the original vocals to create a superior listening experience for Cat Stevens fans. As well as vocals, ‘Demixing’ has also considerably helped amplify the bass, something that was commonly strenuous to achieve with mixes in the late 1960s.
‘Matthew & Son’ and ‘New Masters’ provide a fascinating insight into the beginnings of one of the UK’s greatest singer-songwriters. Having grown up above his parent’s cafe in the West End, Cat Stevens emerged from the early 60’s folk club scene to release his highly successful debut album, ‘Matthew & Son’, in 1967; notably around the time he toured alongside Jimi Hendrix in the UK. The album reached number 7 in the UK charts and was supported by the singles ‘I Love My Dog” and ‘‘Matthew & Son” – the latter reaching number 2 in the UK charts; quickly elevating him to the status of a teen pop idol. Notably the album also featured John Paul Jones. Simultaneously, Cat’s songs were being recorded by other artists such as The Tremeloes, who also had a 1967 hit with “Here Comes My Baby”, which helped to establish his reputation as a truly gifted songwriter.
To capitalise on Cat’s swift rise to stardom, Deram rushed out a second album ‘New Masters’ in the same year. However, some artistic differences had begun to emerge. Stevens was starting to yearn for a simple acoustic sound and more artistic control over his career, whilst producer Mike Hurst wanted to push him as a pop crooner and favoured the more lavish orchestral arrangements that characterise the first two albums. ‘New Masters’ features ‘The First Cut is the Deepest’ which was a hit for P.P. Arnold in 1967 and would go on to become one of the seminal heartbreak songs of all time with notable covers by Rod Stewart, Sheryl Crow, and Keith Hampshire.
Cat contracted Tuberculosis early in 1968 bringing the first stage of his career defined by ‘Matthew & Son’ and ‘New Masters’ to an abrupt halt. During his convalescence he read a book called “The Secret Path” which helped him to embark upon a journey of spiritual self discovery that would go on to define his life and career. He emerged from the illness with the steely determination to resist the forces that were trying to control him, to follow his own artistic instincts, and do music his way.
Matthew & Son and New Masters will be reissued on vinyl on 27th March 2020 via Universal Music Catalogue. Pre-order below: