Yusuf/Cat Stevens Announces 50th Anniversary Reissues of ‘Mona Bone Jakon’ & ‘Tea for the Tillerman,’ Coming 12/4

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Back in mid-September, legendary singer/songwriter Yusuf/Cat Stevens released Tea for the Tillerman², a 50th anniversary reimagining of his classic 1970 album — but he had plenty more up his sleeve in terms of archival re-releases.

On Dec. 4. Stevens will release Super Deluxe reissues of both Tea for the Tillerman (an entirely new and different release than last month’s reimagining) and Mona Bone Jakon, which was also originally released in 1970.

Officially announced on Thursday, these two massive sets are sure to be a must-have for dedicated Yusuf/Cat Stevens fans, and boast a ton of bonus/rare material.

Click here to pre-order the Tea for the Tillerman Super Deluxe Edition from our Rock Cellar Store
Click here to pre-order the Tea for the Tillerman Deluxe CD Edition from our Rock Cellar Store

Premiered in connection with the announcement is a previously unreleased session track titled “Can This Be Love?” — stream it below:

More on the Tea for the Tillerman reissue, per a news release:

The Tea for the Tillerman Super Deluxe box set features a new 2020 remaster, also completed at Abbey Road Studios and overseen by original album producer Paul Samwell-Smith, and mix, of the original 1970 Island Records multitrack master tape, overseen by Yusuf and engineer David Hefti. The 2020 Mix also appears on the 1LP format which is exclusive to this box set. CD3 features the newly released Tea for the Tillerman² – Yusuf has chosen to include it here in order to present the most complete edition of the original album, showing how these songs are as pertinent today as they were when written over 50 years ago. CD4 includes demos, outtakes and alternate versions, including two previously unreleased tracks (“Can This Be Love?,” “It’s So Good,” “If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out,” and “Don’t Be Shy”), while CD5 features 25 live performances – 5 previously unreleased tracks recorded Live At The Troubadour, 4 previously unreleased live performances from the December 8, 1970 show at Fillmore East, and 6 previously unreleased live from British, French and German TV performances over 1970/71. The box set also includes the previously unreleased “Can This Be Love?;” originally scheduled to appear on the album, the song was written by Cat along with “Father and Son” for a proposed musical project “Revolussia” in 1969.

The Super Deluxe box set is rounded out with a Blu-ray featuring HD 24bit/96khz audio of the 2020 Mix, as well as 8 previously unreleased live TV performances, 7 tracks performed live at KCNET studios, Los Angeles, and the official “Father and Son” video. Also housed in a card envelope within the box is a “Pick Up A Good Book” bookmark, a Yusuf / Cat Stevens designed “Miles From Nowhere” print, a reproduction handwritten lyric sheet for “Miles From Nowhere,” a fold-out “Live From The Troubadour 1970” poster, and a Tea for the Tillerman sticker.

As for Mona Bone Jakon, that album will also be made available in lavish Deluxe Edition formats.

Click here to pre-order the Mona Bone Jakon Super Deluxe Edition from our Rock Cellar Store
Click here to pre-order the Mona Bone Jakon Deluxe CD Edition from our Rock Cellar Store

Premiered in connection with the announcement is this previously unheard track from the Mona Bone Jakon sessions, “I Want Some Sun” — stream it below:

More on the deluxe revisiting of Mone Bone Jakon, per a news release:

50 years on, the songs on Mona Bone Jakon still sound as fresh as the day they were recorded. Presented here in a new 2020 remastered version on CD, and a new 2020 Mix by David Hefti on CD and LP, the Super Deluxe Edition also includes an exclusive third CD of previously unreleased demos, and a fourth CD featuring 18 live performances from 1970/71. The 2020 remaster was completed at Abbey Road Studios, and was overseen by original album producer, Paul Samwell-Smith.

This 50th anniversary set is completed with a live 12” etched vinyl EP of the rare audience recording of “Live At Plumpton Jazz & Blues Festival” from August, 1970, and with a Blu-ray disc featuring the original promo video of “Lady D’Arbanville,” plus eight live TV performances, and the HD audio of the new Mona Bone Jakon 2020 Mix. There’s also a selection of memorabilia including the Island Records press kit, two Island press photos, a replica 1970 Plumpton Jazz and Blues flyer, a Cat Stevens tour sticker and “dustbin” greetings card and pop art print in a card envelope.

During our recent feature interview with Yusuf/Cat Stevens, he discussed a bit about these upcoming reissues and what went into the thought process behind them:

For the super deluxe editions of Tea For The TIllerman and Mona Bone Jakon, both feature remastered versions of the original albums and new 2020 mixes.

Yusuf/Cat Stevens: Yeah, well, I mean, you know, we’ve advanced so far from those days, those days we were just beginning to learn how to use Dolbys, you know? So that was one of the things that when we entered the studio for Mona Bone Jakon and Paul [Samwell-Smith, producer] was ecstatic because they had a 16-track with 16 Dolbys to go along with it. In other words, the quality of the acoustic sound could be captured without all that bothersome hiss, which used to accompany quiet musical moments. And so now, of course, with the digital possibilities, everything has become that much more possible to raise the kind of level. And in terms of, just being able to hear the thing clearly and record it and do so many different things with it, you’ve got these little plug-ins that you can use. Some people would maybe say that’s a bit of a criticism because now you don’t get the kind of dynamics that you used to get and especially when it comes to analog, you know, recording of drums is not quite the same. So the drums are a very peculiar instruments that cannot be faithfully recorded digitally, it’s more suitable towards the analog technicalities. I had a great time. I’m familiar with Pro Tools and it’s a bit of a battle sometimes between me and the engineer (laughs) as to what to do with the sounds and how to how to mix it. But I usually win in the end.

With the 2020 mixes, do you hear significant improvements?

Yusuf/Cat Stevens: I think so. One of the things I always used to regret was the fact that when my records came on, people used to have to turn up the volume a little bit. Yeah, so it’s made a little bit easier now for the listeners because so many we’ve got so many choices and so many options. I mean, streaming is just a flood, it’s not a stream. And so therefore, you do need to bring things to people’s attention and you have to hear the song clearly. And that’s what I think the new remixes have done. It’s made it very clear. There’s not much hidden that we’re now revealing. It’s still all there but I think a little bit more shiny, a little bit more level.

There some revelatory demos and alternate versions as well as some beautiful live recordings on both the Super Deluxe editions. For you, what were the most interesting discoveries?

 Yusuf/Cat Stevens: In the context of those type of recordings, I think going back, some of those demos were pretty good. You know, I like things like “Time” and “Fill My Eyes.” There was a little jangle piano, which we used originally. You know, you try things out in the studio and if it doesn’t work, you move on somewhere else. But there was that lovely moment where I did a version, which is on the album. It’s “Fill My Eyes” and it’s a lovely little riff and it’s played not just by a guitar, but on this jangle piano. I love that one.

The rest, the fact that we recorded it so, so sparsely meant that you couldn’t move things around. It is what it is, if you like. There’s nothing else you can do with it. It kind of mixed itself in some strange way. You know, Paul always had a flair for what kind of echo to use and things like that and that was very beautiful what he did there.

But in the end, you can’t do much with it. The songs speak for themselves. They need to be kept simple.

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