Revisiting the bizarre 1976 Cat Stevens video for ‘Banapple Gas’
Cat Stevens‘ video for ‘Banapple Gas’ is about as surreal as it gets. It is unsettling but captivating in equal measure and more than worthy of revisiting due to the downright absurd nature that runs fiercely throughout it.
The track made an appearance on Stevens’ ninth studio record, Numbers, which was designed as a concept album and is subtitled A Pythagorean Theory Tale. It’s worth noting that Stevens’ previous two records had charted in the top three of both the UK and US charts whereas Numbers didn’t chart at all in Britain but didn’t manage to land at 13 in the States.
The story behind the record is as wild as the video for the track, the concept of the album is a fantastic spiritual musical which is set on the fictional planet Polygor. The album included a booklet with excerpts from a planned book of the same name written by Chris Bryant and Allan Scott. In the story there is a castle with a number machine however the full book never saw the light of day which may not be a bad thing.
This machine exists to fulfil the sole purpose of the planet—to disperse numbers to the rest of the universe: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 (but notably not 0). The nine inhabitants of Polygor, the Polygons, are Monad, Dupey, Trezlar, Cubis, Qizlo, Hexidor, Septo, Octav, and Novim. As the last lines of the book say, they “followed a life of routine that had existed for as long as any could remember. … It was, therefore, all the more shocking when on an ordinary day things first started to go wrong.” The change takes the form of Jzero, who comes from nowhere as a slave and eventually confuses everybody with his simple truth.
Banapple gas is also a class-A substance that contains traces of LSD given a fruity flavour which sheds some insight into Stevens‘ mindset during the making of the record and, more poignantly, why he may have thought that it wasn’t such a disastrous idea. The album was completely panned by critics and fans alike, it is certainly a misstep but something about it is weirdly enthralling and how Island let this video get the go-ahead is equally bizarre as an LSD induced Stevens thinking that creating a record around the fictional Polygor was a wise move.
Check out one of the weirdest video’s of all time, below.