The day before Yusuf / Cat Stevens took the stage at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium in September, he went to Jack White's Third Man Records and reworked his first two U.K. released – "I Love My Dog" and "Matthew and Son" – during a direct-to-acetate recording session. "I Love My Dog" was made available for streaming on Wednesday on NPR.
"I Love My Dog" came out in the U.K. in 1966, when Stevens was 18-years-old. The track was a modest hit, reaching Number 28 on the U.K. chart. Stevens' next single, "Matthew and Son," did significantly better, climbing to Number Two. The song also became the title track for Stevens' debut album.
The original "I Love My Dog" is a mix of folk guitar and ornate string and horn arrangements. In the Third Man Records Blue Room, which the label's website proudly describes as "the ONLY LIVE VENUE IN THE WORLD where artists can record their performance direct-to-acetate," the single is appealingly spare and loose. The bass is keenly felt, and the guitarist unleashes several short solos.
After recording at Third Man, Yusuf / Stevens brought White onstage with him at the Ryman for a rendition of "Where Do The Children Play?" Yusuf's tour, which coincided with the 50th anniversary of "I Love My Dog"'s release, included his first shows in New York City since 1976.
The new versions of "I Love My Dog" and "Matthew and Son" will be available as a 7" vinyl-only release on Friday.