Cat Stevens returns for Iraq charity

Former chart star Cat Stevens has recorded his first pop song for a quarter of a century to raise cash for children in Iraq.

Former chart star Cat Stevens has recorded his first pop song for a quarter of a century to raise cash for children in Iraq.

He, Paul McCartney, David Bowie and George Michael have each donated tracks to an album for the War Child charity.

Hope is a follow-up to the 1995 release Help for which a range of bands recorded the entire album in just 24 hours with producer Brian Eno.

Stevens – who now uses the name Yusuf Islam after converting to Islam - re-recorded his song Peace Train during a trip to Johannesburg, South Africa.

He gave up his music career after recording his final album Back To Earth in 1978 and embracing his new religion.

The musician is now a leading figure in the British Muslim community but has occasionally made spoken word recordings, written Islamic songs and featured on an album of Bosnian music.

His new version of the 1971 track is his first English language recording for 25 years.

“Peace Train is a song I wrote, the message of which continues to breeze thunderously through the hearts of millions of human beings and there is a powerful need for people to feel that gust of hope rise up again,” said Islam.

“As a member of humanity and as a Muslim, this is my contribution to the call for a peaceful solution to the dangerous path some world leaders today seem to be taking.”

The Hope album was put together in just 25 days and will help child victims of the Iraq war.

Paul McCartney provided a version of his track Calico Skies, recorded during rehearsals for his current tour in order to meet the tight schedule for assembling the 17-track album.

Other stars to appear include Avril Lavigne, New Order and Ronan Keating.

Blue singer Lee Ryan has recorded his own song Stand Up As People – his first solo effort – and George Michael, a vocal critic of the war, has handed over his recording of Don McLean’s The Grave.

The album is released on April 21.

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