Ronan, Shane, Michael, Keith and Stephen had a massive No.2 smash at Christmas 1995 with this cover of Cat Stevens' 'Father And Son'.Well, that's certainly true as far as it goes, although I do wonder exactly how much Shane, Michael, Keith and Stephen contributed as they obviously didn't write it (indeed, they weren't born when the original was first released) and there's not much in the way of backing vocals. Even on their fourth single it feels a bit like a dry run for Ronan Keating's solo career, as well as a conscious attempt to attract what Louis Walsh would call the housewife audience. I'd never heard the Cat Stevens version in 1995, nor indeed the flop cover by Sandie Shaw, but one very obvious difference is that Stevens sings the "father" and "son" parts in different tones of voice in an attempt to differentiate the characters, whereas Keating ploughs through the whole thing in a single voice. That would have made the lyrics confusing had I actually listened to this single at the time rather than enduring it. Keating, of course, later solved the problem by recording the song as a duet with Yusuf (as he then was) but that's on Now 60.
Even now that I have heard more versions of the song, I'm still not fond of it. Like a lot of Cat Stevens it seems too pleased with itself, as if this is a more convincing examination of parent-child relations than it really is; you'll remember from what I wrote about various Steps songs on the last album that I've nothing against shallow songs, but I don't like false depth. Still, the sheer perfunctory nature of this version makes it even worse. The best thing about it is that it's over in less than three minutes.
Also appearing on: Now 30, 31, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 45, 71
Available on: Silver Collection