The new "Cat Stevens"-record has already been full of critics and fans. Seen impartially, this is a fresh, lively recording with which Yusuf pays tribute to his musical youthful love, the R&B. Yusuf and producer Rick Rubin have avoided all too typical clichés and standards - including Rubin's Alterswerk variant of skinning an artist's acoustic skeleton, as happened with Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond. So the songs - half covers, half original compositions - are indeed Blues and Soul, but "Tell 'Em I'm Gone" is by no means a complete Blues record like one by Gary Moore or B. B. King. It also features swinging sixties pop ("Gold Digger"), African-influenced desert blues ("You Are My Sunshine"), gospel (the title track) and unexpectedly intense electrified blues rock ("Editing Floor Blues", the great cover of Procol Harum's "The Devil Came From Kansas"). Even motifs from Stevens' brilliant seventies picture book songwriting art are served: with "Dying To Live" and "Cat & The Dog Trap". Altogether a fine album with a top opener.
Top Track: I Was Raised In Babylon