Born Stephen Demitri Georgiou in in London, England, Stevens converted to Islam at age 29 and adopted the name Yusuf which means “Jesus” in Arabic. The following year, he released his last album (Back to Earth) under Cat Stevens before fully adopting his new name Yusuf in all of his subsequent releases. He would release three albums after that under Yusuf and two under the name Yusuf/Cat Stevens. Yusuf recorded 11 music albums during this time. I was curious to see how they ranked against each other. Before we proceed, I’d like to correct one thing: there are no “bad” Cat Stevens songs, but some are immensely better than others. So this list may be considered controversial by some Cat Stevens purists. But I hope you’ll find it enlightening and fun to read, enough to spark a healthy debate:
11. Tea for the Tillerman (1970)
“Tea for the Tillerman” is Cat Stevens’s fourth studio album released on 23rd November 1970. It contains some decent songs: “Wild World,” “Sad Lisa,” and “Hard Headed Woman.” But it also has a few that aren’t up to par: “Miles from Nowhere” and “But I Might Die Tonight.” And the title track (I skip it every time) is painfully dull. The songwriting remains strong, but there isn’t enough of it on this album to make me enjoy it. “Tea for the Tillerman” is easily the most underrated album on this list. It’s worth a listen, but not one of his best.
Favorite Track: Sad Lisa
10. Teaser; the Firecat (1971)
“Teaser; the Firecat (1971)” was Cat Stevens’ fifth studio album, released on 1st October 1971. The album has a total of 10 songs, none of which are weak. I’ll admit, the cover is pretty cool. But I’m not fond of it very much. “Ruby love” and “Morning Has Broken” are good songs, but they get boring after a while. It’s just not one of my favorites.
Favorite Track: The Wind
9. Izitso (1977
“Izitso” is Cat Stevens’ tenth studio album, released on 27th April 1977. It feels like a solid album, but with no real standouts. The songs are good but not great. I skip “Izitso” every time it comes up, without regrets. After the Lackluster “Number,” Cat Stevens tried to make a comeback with this album, updating the rhythmic sound associated with his previous music. But it’s neither Cat Stevens best nor worst.
(I Never Wanted) to be a Star
8. Back to Earth (1978)
“Back to Earth (1978)” is Cat Stevens’ eleventh studio album, released on 3rd December 1978. It’s the only album he released as Cat Stevens after converting to Islam (he released three albums as Yusuf and two as Yusuf/Cat Stevens). Overall, the album is an enjoyable listen, but not one of his best. “I’ve tried to make the songs communicate how it is to be alive now, to have a short life, and yet have your whole focus on God. I’m content because I know that this life isn’t all there is.” ― Yusuf Islam, “The Life of the Last Prophet: Muhammad.”
Favorite Track: Never
7. Buddha; the Chocolate Box (1974)
“Buddha and the Chocolate Box (1974)” is Cat Stevens’s eighth studio album, released on 19th March 1974. The album has an array of well-written songs. Some are great, like “Home in the Sky,” and others are just decent. But it’s still a good listen. Steven said he got the idea for the title while on a plane, traveling to a gig. He had a buddha on one side and a box of chocolate on the other. He pondered that those would have been his last worldly encounters if he were to die on that plane. This album shows Cat Stevens in his prime, recording some of the best songs in his career. The writing is excellent, and there are no weak songs.
Favorite Track: Home in the Sky.
6. “Catch Bull at Four” (1972)
“Catch Bull at Four” is Cat Stevens’ sixth studio album, released on 27th September 1972. It’s one of his best albums, with some gems. “Cat Keep it In” is my all-time favorite Cat Stevens song. It’s the only song I consider perfect in every way. “Sitting” and “Angelsea” are also two of my favorites. Overall, the album shows Cat Stevens at his best.
Favorite Track: Can’t Keep it In
5. “Mona Bone Jakon” (1970)
“Mona Bone Jakon” is Cat Stevens’s third studio album, released on 24th April 1970. The album shows Cat Stevens transitioning from folk music to folk-rock. It was well-received by critics and became his first #1 on the Billboard 200 chart (where it stayed for weeks). It is one of my favorite albums. “Mona Bone Jakon” is much more unique than his other albums. It’s not perfect, but I’m fond of it.
Favorite Track: Lady D’Arbanville
4. Matthew; Son (1967)
“Matthew and Son (1967)” is the debut solo studio album by English singer-songwriter, folksinger, and guitarist. He recorded a selection of traditional British Isles folk ballads and contemporary material written by himself and others, backed by John Paul Jones on double bass, Nicky Hopkins on the keyboard, and Alan Tew on the arrangements. It was an acoustic album with a soft melody. You can’t find many albums like this, making it one of his most unique works. “Matthew and Son” is also one of the best-selling debut albums ever recorded by a British musician.
Favorite Track: Here Comes My Baby
3. New Masters (1967)
“New Masters (1967)” is Cat Stevens’s sophomore album. The musical style of this album was folk-rock. It was released in December 1967 and failed to chart both in the UK and US. It also failed to get good reviews. Still, it’s a solid album. Don’t be discouraged by the low rating. It’s a gem.
Favorite Track: The First Cut Is The Deepest
Numbers was released on 30th November 1975. It’s the ninth studio album by Cat Stevens. The album was subtitled “A Pythagorean Theory Tale,” It was based on a fictional planet in the solar system called “Ploygor.” It was said to be based on Cat Stevens’ theories about music and numbers. It’s one of his best albums, with great songs like ‘Jzero’ and ‘Novim’s Nightmare.’
Favorite Track: Jzero
1. Foreigner (1973)
Foreigner is Cat Stevens’ seventh studio album, released on 25th July 1973. The album has a mix of folk and rock music. It became one of the most successful albums in Stevens’ career, peaking at #3 on both sides of the Atlantic. Cat Stevens was at the peak of his career when he recorded this album. His songs were getting massive airplay, topping charts everywhere. But Cat felt like he was becoming too predictive. So, he decided to record the album all by himself, and while it didn’t get good reviews, it did get good airplay. Foreigner is the of Cat Stevens. It shows his range of music and lyric-making abilities. This album has all great songs, so I recommend you to check it out in its entirety.
Favorite Track: The Hurt