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Yusuf Islam: Beyond Pop Music

posted by dali

Twenty-eight years was a long time to wait for a new album from Yusuf Islam. Back in the 1970s, the artist (then known to the world as Cat Stevens) won over audiences with pop hits like “Wild, Wild, World,” “Peace Train,” and other folk-inspired songs. His recently released album, “An Other Cup,” vaguely remembers that music while developing a sweet sound of its own infused with Sufi stylings and spiritual overtones.

It takes some getting used to, this new music of Islam. The infectious, rollicking pop beats have given way to mellow, dreamy rhythms and lazy guitar strumming. The lyrics are easy on the ears as well, with lines like “One day at a time, we can look the future in the eye” (from “One Day at a Time”) and “Greenfields and golden sands, that’s all I need; that’s all I want …” (from “Greenfields, Golden Sands”).

One song, “The Beloved,” invokes the artist’s Islamic devotion, as it praises the Prophet Muhammed with lines like: “He was born to be the beloved, a will of the Divine.” Even though this is a pop album, it is permeated with Islam’s love for spirituality and his faith. Yet religious love doesn’t overwhelm the album, as Islam allows his old folk roots to shine through on numerous tracks.

Listening to this album with Cat Stevens on the brain would be a mistake. He left that life behind when he converted to Islam. But the musical persona of Cat Stevens can be faintly heard in this album. It’s a decent (though not incredibly awesome) first step after nearly 30 years way from making commercial pop music.



  • http://www.findingislam.blogspot.com Denise

    I find it to be, indeed, incredibly awesome, looking at it from the standpoint of a new Muslim that loved Cat before his departure from the “public eye”. This is a truly happy album, full of all the joy and promise that his pre-Islam music held, and one that gives a fabulous message both to those who understand Islam, and to those who do not.

  • http://HASH(0xfbc5ecc) Dr. Salee Amina Mohammed

    I met Yusef islam many times, yet always regretted his departure from the world of music, to which he was a great contributor, with remarkable talent. I had always hoped that he would find a way to merge his great communicating ability to the masses, through his music, with the Islamic messages and lifestyle he wanted to convey and demonstrate. Thank God! He has found it! Congratulations, Yusef. A world of grateful listeners thanks you. Sincerely, Dr. Salee’ Amina Mohammed P.O. Box 7144 Beverly Hills, CA 90212-7144 saleeamina@yahoo.com

  • http://HASH(0xfbc74b0) Jimi

    Years ago, a friend of mine worked for Customs in Dallas, TX, when Yusuf Islam and his family came through. Because he was recognized, he was asked for his autograph to which he rudely replied he was no longer Cat Stevens and hated America and all the people, etc. It was a disheartening experience for my friend and the others in Customs. How do we (AMERICA) ensure ourselves that Yusuf’s wealth, acquired as making a come-back after all these years, won’t be used against the USA, from Islamics who hate us? Will his funds be a problem? How many others have had this question?

  • Chad W

    Love the “Peace Train” song! Made me think, of a major peace movement all over again, only this time it is truly world wide with “Peace Train” sung by popular groups in every country…..it could work,
    Difference = conflict
    Educate the young to be respectful and tolerant of difference, embrace difference….it’s a wild world!
    In the name of all religion, one God and many prophets.
    This Peace Train will be hard to board until all can be respectful of difference.

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