Back to Earth (Cat Stevens album)

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Back to Earth
Studio album by Cat Stevens
Released 3 December 1978
Recorded November 1978,
Sweet Silence Studios, Copenhagen, Denmark;
Le Studio, Morin Heights, Canada;
Advision Studios, London, England;
CBS Studios, New York City;
Longview Farms, North Brookfield, Massachusetts
Genre Soft rock
Length 32:51
Label Island (UK/Europe)
A&M (US/Canada)
Producer Paul Samwell-Smith
Cat Stevens
Cat Stevens chronology
Back to Earth
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[1]

Back to Earth is a 1978 album released by the British singer/songwriter Cat Stevens. It was the only album he recorded using the name Cat Stevens after his conversion to Islam in December 1977. It was also the last album of contemporary western music that he recorded until An Other Cup, nearly 30 years later.[2]


On 8 December 1977 Stevens was awarded the "Sun Peace Award" by the Symphony for the United Nations in New York City. On 23 December 1977 Stevens entered the Regent's Park Mosque in London and formally embraced Islam. It was Muharram, 1398, in the Islamic calendar.

In March 1978, during a UNICEF visit to war–ravaged Bangladesh, Stevens and Alun Davies performed at a "cultural festival" in Rangamati. On 21 March 1978 they gave a spontaneous concert in the farming village of Rangpur. Then it was on to Thailand and Egypt, where Stevens delighted in visiting every mosque.

On 4 July 1978, Steven Georgiou changed his name to Yusuf Islam. It was 28th Rajab 1398 in the Islamic calendar. Although he wanted to retire from popular music after his religious conversion, Islam owed his record company Island/A&M one more "Cat Stevens" album under his recording contract.[3]

Yusuf recorded this album in November 1978, re-uniting with his producer from the early 1970s, Paul Samwell-Smith, and arranger Del Newman, which includes his guitarist, Alun Davies, also his drummer Gerry Conway, neither of whom had appeared on Stevens' previous 1977 album "Izitso". Alun co–wrote two new songs. The old team had now come back together to complete the final record. Recorded in several places including Sweet Silence Studios in Copenhagen, Longview Farms in Massachusetts, Advision in London, and CBS in New York City, the album was completed at Le Studio in Quebec.

At this point, Islam was praying five times daily and the sessions took on a melancholy edge, as it was implicitly understood that they were to be the last. On 3 December 1978, the album "Back to Earth" was released. The same day the album was released, Yusuf's father Stavros Georgiou died. Yusuf had no more use for Cat Stevens, having found something that satisfied him a great deal more.[citation needed] As he was unwilling to promote the album "Back to Earth" with a tour, it peaked at only No. 33 on the Billboard charts, and its singles "Bad Brakes"/"Nascimento", and "Last Love Song"/"Randy" made a poor showing in the charts.

The album features a return to the acoustic guitar sound of Stevens' early 1970s albums like Tea for the Tillerman. Two of the songs, "Just Another Night" and "Last Love Song", express bitterness about how he was treated by the music industry, with lyrics such as "If you don't want me, maybe I don't want you."[4] However, in the song Never, Stevens hints that he may return to music someday, "There's going to be another time; there's going to be another moment." 27 years later, after his retirement, he would return to popular music.

On 9 January 1979, as a UNICEF ambassador, Yusuf was in the audience of the "Year of the Child" concert at the United Nations building in New York (he had declined to perform, and the final headliners were the Bee Gees, Rod Stewart and ABBA). He was introduced from the stage as Yusuf Islam, not as Cat Stevens. When the event aired the following day on NBC–TV, this segment had been edited out.

Yusuf entered an arranged marriage with the help of his mother. On 7 September 1979 Yusuf Islam married Fauzia Ali at Regent's Park Mosque in London, the 1000th wedding to take place there. Yusuf had now moved back to Britain, and he purchased a home next to his mother in Hampstead Garden Suburb.

On 22 November 1979 the 'Year of the Child' multi–artist concert at Wembley Arena, UK took place. This UNICEF benefit was Cat Stevens’ final concert appearance. “I enjoyed the show but my heart was with Allah,” Yusuf told the Evening Standard. “I don’t think I’ll be performing on stage again, but I can’t be dogmatic and say that I never will again. I just think that's not the way I want to go from now on.”

On 11 July 1980 Hasanah, a daughter, was born to Yusuf and his wife. Yusuf made the Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah to the House of God believed to be built by the Prophet Abraham. He auctioned his musical instruments and gold records, dividing the proceeds between Help The Aged and Capital Radio’s Help A London Child campaign. Over the next decade he helped found and support numerous other charities. “Sometimes I had to close my mind to everything else in order to achieve my goal,” Yusuf explained. “I did that when I was a songwriter. I almost didn’t listen to anybody else's music, because I thought it might influence me, and I’d end up copying them. And I did it when I entered my spiritual discovery of Islam. It made me think only about just that, and I didn’t want to think about anything else.”

In January 1981, to help increase his own knowledge and to assist others in understanding Islam, Yusuf began a weekly Islamic Circle, open to all, every Saturday at Regent's Park Mosque. For the first time since becoming a Muslim, he wrote a song: “A is For Allah,” for his daughter, Hasanah. On 19 June 1981 Yusuf gave his first public lecture, titled “My Path to Surrender,” at the Mind, Body, Spirit Festival in Olympia. On 19 November 1981 Yusuf’s second child, Asmaa, was born.

Track listing[edit]

All songs by Cat Stevens, except where noted:

Side one[edit]

  1. "Just Another Night" – 3:49
  2. "Daytime" (Stevens, Alun Davies) – 3:55
  3. "Bad Brakes" (Stevens, Alun Davies) – 3:27
  4. "Randy" – 3:12
  5. "The Artist" – 2:32

Side two[edit]

  1. "Last Love Song" – 3:27
  2. "Nascimento" – 3:16
  3. "Father" – 4:08
  4. "New York Times" – 3:24
  5. "Never" – 3:01