Catch Bull at Four
Released: October 1972
Chart Peak: #1
Weeks Charted: 48
Certified Gold: 10/12/72
Cat Stevens' creative energy has been as a breath of fresh air cooling the hot arid wasteland that is so much of today's music. His ability to capture the full range and import of things seemingly trivial and impress into musical passages emotions that are buried in the hearts of us all is a rare and wondrous gift. There is not a soul that cannot be roused upon hearing "Can't Keep It In" or one who has not traveled along its own "18th Avenue."
- Billboard, 1970.
Reading the lyric of "The Boy with the Moon and Star on His Head," I was impressed by how unpretentiously it simulated early English poetry. But when I listened -- a widely recommended method for the perception of songs -- I noticed affectations like "the naked earth beneath us and the universe above," and winced at the next-to-last couplet, which ends with a weak word for the sake of a weak rhyme. Then I browsed in Norman Ault's anthology of Elizabethan lyrics. Forget it, Cat. C
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
Catch Bull At Four dates from a period between the simple, some might say simplistic, songs of the Teaser and Tillerman albums and the sprawling music of the Foreigner Suite which followed. These songs and recording share a refreshing robustness and vigour. In addition to the familiar Stevens' love songs and ballads -- "Silent Sunlight" is a thin remake of "Morning Has Broken" -- there is more up-tempo material like the inventive acoustic guitar/synth-based "Angelsea" and the very powerful "18th Avenue" with its propulsive piano and percussion and jagged string orchestration.
Nimbus CD mastering reveals this album as one of Stevens' finest; the "sharpness" of the LP sound is gone. Though not as immediately appealing as the earlier material -- which can incidentally be strongly recommended in the CD format -- the heavier production sound on Catch Bull At Four repays CD reproduction.
- David Prakel, Rock 'n' Roll on Compact Disc, 1987.
Catch Bull at Four was Stevens's commercial peak, holding the #1 spot for three weeks. Much of the reason for this was probably public anticipation that this would be as smoothly appealing as his previous two outings. With this album, Stevens's melodies became more ornate and his delivery became a little gruffer. Overall, it is one of his better albums with "Eighteenth Avenue," "Sitting," and "Can't Keep It In" as highlights. * * * *
- Rick Clark, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
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