Cat Stevens’ days of major crossover hit singles may have been largely over by the time he released his tenth studio album Izitso in the spring of 1977. But there was still an obvious contender for release as a 45 by Island Records, and it had the singer-songwriter in nostalgic mood. ‘(Remember The Days Of The) Old Schoolyard’ hit the shops on Friday 27 May that year, and went on to be his most recent top 40 hit in the US.
The song came out on the same day as Emerson Lake & Palmer’s hit-in-waiting ‘Fanfare For The Common Man’ and an early sighting by the Police, ‘Fall Out,’ in their days on Illegal Records. Cat’s new song featured vocals by an already vastly-experienced fellow British artist who, like him, had emerged from the ’60s with flying colours, Elkie Brooks.
‘(Remember The Days Of The) Old Schoolyard’ had earlier been given by Stevens to British soul-pop talent Linda Lewis, who recorded it for her 1975 Arista album Not A Little Girl Anymore. Cat went on to be one of the producers of Lewis’ follow-up LP Woman Overboard, released the same year as his own Izitso.
Cat’s version of ‘Schoolyard,’ featured drums and percussion by British studio stalward Andy Newmark as well as the early use of a Polyphonic synthesiser. “This summertime tune opens with sounds of children at play,” said Billboard, “and builds, drops, then builds to a dramatic climax.”
The single entered the UK chart at No. 49 on 2 July, but only went as high as No. 44; in the States, a ten-week run on the Hot 100 took it to No. 33, as well as a No. 28 ranking on the Adult Contemporary chart. The parent album Izitso, produced by Stevens and David Kershenbaum, had just reached its No. 18 UK peak, during a seven-week run in the top 40, when the single was released. In the US, the LP was a gold-selling No. 7 success.
‘(Remember The Days Of The) Old Schoolyard’ is on Isitzo, which can be bought here.
Follow the official Cat Stevens Best Of playlist.