Cat Stevens' Tea for the Tillerman stands as one of the great rock LPs, pure and unique in its virtues…and, of course, controversy bait for partisans of his Mona Bone Jakon and Teaser & The Firecat. Well, more fools they, say I. Tea has only very very rarely been borrowed from, as an artist must be in a, for lack of better phrase, perfect state of grace to do so. South African Van der Spuy has captured all the gentilities of that release and let the angry emphatic segments remain with Stevens. Some few will remember Alun Davies was an important adjunct in Cat's early output, also releasing a solo LP entitled Daydo. Van der Spuy captures the best of those moments as well, not to mention a bit of the folk side of Spencer Davis, who cut an interesting LP with Peter Jamison in the 70s.
This CD boasts both flatpicking and finger styles, not to mention a fluid bottlenecking, showing Spuy's more intricate side in instrumentals like Lebombo Mountain Drive. One gets from him the pacificity and quite drive of a Michael Hedges and Alex DeGrassi. Like those two, he prefers quiet-ish back-up and an avoidance of the spectacular for the engrossing. "Dreams of Believers" is strongly Nick Drake-ish, exotic with tablas and a tintal rhythm, luxuriating in understated vocals and the paradox of lush sparsity. It will hardly surprise, then, that the guitarist takes on Drake's Road, with excellent results and, ironically, a very Donovan-ish timbre.
And, yes, Donovan's also a antecedent in quite a large way. That gentle troubador, despite his 60s/70s heyday, has not remained in the critics' acclaim as he still should. Perhaps this issuance will, by association, help spark a small revisit of his wondrous catalogue, a paradise which extended for nearly the writer's entire output. Spuy often favors violins and violas in the background and these non-grandstanding but evocative instruments do much to raise his songs slowly to the clouds and sunsets while retaining the dust of the earth.
All these particulars haven't escaped the world at large, and Beautiful Feet has caught the attentions of major papers and magazines globally. Rightly so. Therefore, I warn the reader to catch this CD fairly quickly, because it's presently in a twofer edition, the second disc showcasing an interview, a video of the Beautifl Feet song, and four live cuts. You know how these things go: once the intitial pressing runs out, the form will revert to a one-disc format, and it'll be hell on wheels trying to find that companion bonus. With this atypical set of performances, you don't want to miss the extra mileage.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2007, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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