CMJ - 7/24/00, p.24
"...Classic folk-pop....gorgeously remastered...breathing new life into tunes...while remaining faithful to the albums' original majesty..."
Personnel: Cat Stevens (vocals, guitar, keyboards); Alun Davies (guitar); Peter Gabriel (flute); John Fell Ryan (bass instrument); Harvey Burns (percussion).
1970's MONA BONE JAKON was Cat Stevens's third album, yet it bore little relation to the pop-oriented sound of his 1967 releases. In the interim Stevens had become disillusioned with the pop scene, then became seriously ill and spent a year convalescing. When he returned with this album his sound had grown folksier and his songs more reflective and emotionally straightforward. Acoustic guitar and spare backing by bass, keys, and drums framed these new compositions that dealt with the trials of fame ("Pop Star"), personal hardship ("Trouble"), and faith ("I Think I See the Light").
Although the quality of the songwriting here does not quite match what Stevens would achieve on his following releases, it is strong nonetheless, and goes a good length toward establishing his trademark sound. Of particular note is Stevens' voice: a rich, variable baritone that he exploits on MONA BONE JAKON to excellent effect. The results--warm, intimate, and immediately appealing--put Stevens in the running with the best singer-songwriters of the early '70s, and paved the way for his next release, the watershed TEA FOR THE TILLERMAN.