Stevens launched Deram, Decca's off-shoot progressive label, in 1966 with "I Love My Dog", followed by further hits "Matthew & Son" and "I'm Gonna Get Me A Gun"—ingenious, idiosyncratic, albeit lightweight pop. Like label-mate Bowie, Stevens was clearly an unorthodox talent. Typically, the singles and B-sides then bolstered Stevens' debut album, an impressive, diverse collection despite Mike Hurst's archaic production and fussy arrangements. By New Masters, Hurst was deploying an even heavier trowel.

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Cat Stevens

Stevens launched Deram, Decca’s off-shoot progressive label, in 1966 with “I Love My Dog”, followed by further hits “Matthew & Son” and “I’m Gonna Get Me A Gun”?ingenious, idiosyncratic, albeit lightweight pop. Like label-mate Bowie, Stevens was clearly an unorthodox talent. Typically, the singles and B-sides then bolstered Stevens’ debut album, an impressive, diverse collection despite Mike Hurst’s archaic production and fussy arrangements. By New Masters, Hurst was deploying an even heavier trowel. The songs also fell short, as if written for a prospective musical without theme or substance. The one redeeming song, future Rod Stewart hit “The First Cut Is The Deepest”, was surprisingly given to PP Arnold as a single. Strange, given that Stevens’ run of hits had long dried up. Following an enforced convalescence after tuberculosis, he re-emerged on the burgeoning Island Records in 1970 with a sparse acoustic sound and songs tailor-made for bedsit romantics everywhere.