Back in 1970, when Cat Stevens returned from a two-year hiatus, him getting weird was still a good thing. He's since gone pretty far over the edge, but his original statement of purpose after teen stardom resulted in this fantastic album -- Mona Bone Jakon, by far his best.

What makes it great is the constant tension between crushing depression and glimmers of hope, between death references and the piano tinkles that signal things will turn out OK. The entire record is a struggle. Just when you think everything is lost on "Trouble," Stevens returns with the spunky, confident title track.

Everything on here has the bare-bones intimacy that would define the '70s singer-songwriter canon, yet Stevens had a depth, clarity and cleverness rivaled by only a select few.