On this day in music history: November 23, 197…

On this day in music history: November 23, 1970 – “Tea For The Tillerman”, the fourth album by Cat Stevens is released. Produced by Paul Samwell-Smith, it is recorded at Morgan Studios in Willesden, North London, UK in May – July 1970. Already an established star in his native England in the late 60’s, it is not until the turn of the next decade that Cat Stevens achieves worldwide notoriety. After a near fatal bout of tuberculosis side lines him for an extended time, it makes the musician reassess his life and career. Unhappy with his original producer Mike Hurst and Decca distributed Deram Records, Stevens breaks ties with them in 1969. He also makes a conscious decision to change his musical direction also, moving away from the lighter pop and heavily orchestrated sound imposed by Hurst, toward more stripped down and organic production values. Signing with Island Records in the UK and A&M records in the US, Stevens finds a like minded collaborators in former Yardbirds bassist Paul Samwell-Smith who becomes his producer. and guitarist Alun Davies. Though only a modest success at the time, the album “Mona Bone Jakon” released in April of 1970 sets the template that springboards Cat Stevens’ recording career. On the follow up “Tea For The Tillerman, it is completed only three months after his previous release lands in stores.  Writing from his own past experiences, "Tea” features several songs that become among Cat Stevens’ best known and most covered material, including “Wild World” (#11 Pop), “Where Do The Children Play?” and “Father And Son”. The album becomes his breakthrough release in the US, putting him at the forefront of the burgeoning singer/songwriter movement that will dominate 70’s pop music. Director Hal Ashby uses four tracks from the album in his black comedy “Harold & Maude” the following year. The albums’ cover artwork is illustrated by Stevens himself. In 2000, Universal Music Group remasters and reissues the album on CD.  "Tillerman" is also released as a 2 CD Deluxe Edition featuring the remastered version of the original album on one disc, with the second disc including demos and previously unreleased live recordings.  Long a favorite of audiophiles, it is remastered and reissued three separate times by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, in 1980 (standard vinyl LP) in 1984 (as a 200 gram UHQR LP set) and in 1989 (on CD). It is also remastered and reissued by Analogue Productions in 2011 as a 200 gram vinyl LP and hybrid SACD. It is issued by AP again in 2015 as a limited edition 200 gram double vinyl set, mastered at 45 RPM. “Tea For The Tillerman” peaks at number eight on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.