Words - Shaun M Tatarka.    Layout - Ian Roberts & Gary Jones

Duration: 1:03:34


1 Look In Her Eyes 04:13

2 Hole In My Heart  03:27

3 Farewell  04:18

4 Didn't I  04:01

5 Blood Red Roses  03:41

6 Grace  04:53

7 Give Me Love  04:08

8 Rest Of My Life  03:28

9 Rollin' & Tumblin'  03:38

10 Julia  03:36

11 Honey Gold  04:44

12 Vegas Shuffle  03:47

13 Cold Old London  03:42

BONUS TRACKS

14 Who Designed The Snowflake 03:07

15 It Was A Very Good Year 05:06

16 I Don't Want To Get Married 03:12

For most music lovers, a new collection of songs (known as an “album” if you’re under 30) by their favorite singer or band is always cause for excitement. In the case of Stewart nation, the last five years have been a cause for complete jubilation. When Stewart announced in 2012 he was writing songs again after a decade of hit-and-miss covers, the world nearly stopped turning as the masses celebrated.  Grown men wept with joy; babies squealed with delight and women swooned.  The stock market soared, wars ended and poverty ceased to exist.

Okay, perhaps I’m over doing it. Maybe only the several thousand hardcore rock fans who treat Rod Stewart’s career as a second (or first) religion were jubilant. But while the number of interested parties may be exaggerated, their joy cannot. Along with the unheralded Nick Lowe and a few others, Rod Stewart is one of the most underrated songwriters in rock history. Everyone knows about the voice, the clothes, the hair and the women but they forget he’s written dozens of terrific songs—not all of them known by the public at large.  Yes, the world knows and loves “Maggie May” and “You’re in My Heart,” but Stewart nation equally values “The Wild Horse,” “A Night Like This,” “Lady Luck” and “Go Out Dancing,” just to name a few.  His ability to construct a clever phrase and (almost always with a co-writer) a melody has made for some fabulous (if obscure) album tracks. We, the faithful flock of Father Rod, have every reason to crave more from his mighty pen, and to celebrate when we get it.

So it is in fact cause for elation that Sir Roderick has just released the third, and hopefully not final, chapter of his career resurrection as a songwriter, producer, creator. This year’s edition is called Blood Red Roses, and I am happy to report that Stewart nation is going to eat this up with just as much enthusiasm as chapters 1 (2013’ s Time) and 2 (2015’s Another Country). It’s too early to say exactly where it stands in Stewart’s discography. (But I can say for sure, it’s in the upper half.) Time has a way of exposing a record’s flaws and when you love Rod Stewart music as much as I do, it’s almost always love at first listen. (I originally labeled Another Country better than Time upon the former’s release and I can now admit I was wrong.) But what most stands out to me upon the first few listens is that this is a slightly more adventurous and aggressive affair than its two predecessors.  Songs like “Honey Gold” and “Julia” are slightly out of what we know to be “Rod Stewart type songs.” We’ll get to whether these songs actually succeed but it is admirable at this stage of the game he’s still interested in modifying the mold if not breaking it completely.  

But fellow Rod fan, you will notice I said “slightly.” This is most definitely a Rod Stewart album. U.S fans who have been fortunate enough to catch even a few hours of Sirius Radio’s limited Rod Stewart channel (#30) have been reminded just how much Rod likes genre-hopping. And Blood Red Roses is like Stewart’s career in that it’s all over the musical map.  There’s the hard charging rockers, weepy ballads and sing-alongs of course but if you count the bonus tracks there’s also a touch of Motown, soul, reggae, dance tracks, and yes, even a return to songbook territory (stop groaning Rod fans. This one’s not bad.) The very best Rod Stewart albums (Every Picture Tells a Story; Gasoline Alley; Out of Order) may have a cohesive feel but he’s pulled off the K-Tell album (look it up, kids) approach before (Vagabond Heart, A Spanner in the Works), and he and his musical cohort Kevin Savigar have done it again on Blood Red Roses.

So without further ado—let us look at each of the 16 tracks that make up the deluxe version of Rod Stewart’s 30th studio album.

Blood Red Roses

Track By Track Review

 



1. Look In Her Eyes 
Written by Rod Stewart, Kevin Savigar 

Kevin Savigar: Producer  Rod Stewart: Producer  Kevin Savigar: Recording Arranger, Recording Engineer  Recorded at Celtic House/Satinwood, Los Angeles, US  Kevin Savigar: Mixer  Patrick Logue: Assistant Recording Engineer, Production Coordinator  Kevin Savigar: Keyboards, Programming  Emerson Swinford: Guitar  Anne King: Trumpet  Julia Thornton: Tambourine  Bridget Cady: Background Vocalist

 

SHAUN SAYS... Da Ya Think I’m Sexy for the #metoo generation. Despite once making a fortune off a dance track, I will never believe it’s Stewart’s forte. Though there’s much to admire in tracks like “Sexual Religion” he can come off as an old rocker desperately trying to validate his own cool.  “Look” however works because he is no longer a participant (yeah we know Rod, you weren’t a participant in “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” but when the video features a close up of your spandex covered ass, who do we blame for the confusion?) but rather a bemused onlooker who enjoys watching the kids. Musically speaking it is catchy without being cloyingly so. The trumpet comes as an unexpected and welcome twist.

Stewart and Savigar load this one up with all kinds of studio tricks that make for an enjoyable mix. B+

 



2. Hole In My Heart 
Written by Rod Stewart, Kevin Savigar 

Kevin Savigar: Producer  Rod Stewart: Producer  Kevin Savigar: Recording Arranger, Recording Engineer  Recorded at Celtic House, Los Angeles, US  Kevin Savigar: Mixer  Patrick Logue: Assistant Recording Engineer, Production Coordinator  Emerson Swinford: Guitar  Conrad Korsch: Bass  David Palmer: Drums  J'Anna Jacoby: Violin  Anne King: Trumpet  Jimmy Roberts: Saxophone  Nick Lane: Trombone  Fred White: Background Vocalist  Darryl Phinnessee: Background Vocalist  Kevin Savigar: Keyboards, Programming  Will Wheaton: Background Vocalist  Pamela Olivia: Background Vocalist  FeliciaGlissom:BackgroundVocalist
Felicia Glissom: Background Vocalist  Casey Shea: Background Vocalist

 

SHAUN SAYS... For me, few things in the music world are better than the original tartan terror shouting in all his gravely glory about the pain of a broken heart. Or about how in love he is. Or about dancing alone. Or hot legs. Or how someone can make him dance, sing, even take the dog for a walk, mend a fuse, fold away the ironing board, or any other domestic shortcoming.

This particular rocker has horns ablazin’ ala “ Finest Woman” from Time but is more fun. Lyrically witty and catchy as hell, this one is likely to join the Stewart canon of great rockers.  B+

 



3. Farewell 
Written by Rod Stewart, Kevin Savigar

Kevin Savigar: Producer  Rod Stewart: Producer  Kevin Savigar: Engineer, Recording Arranger, Recording Engineer  Recorded at Celtic House, Satinwood, US  Kevin Savigar: Mixer  Patrick Logue: Assistant Recording Engineer, Production Coordinator  Kevin Savigar: Keyboards, Programming  Emerson Swinford: Guitar  Di Reed: Background Vocalist  Bridget Cady: Background Vocalist  Becca Kotte: Background Vocalist  J'Anna Jacoby: Violin

 

SHAUN SAYS... Lately Rod has been fond of pointing out that he’s making music for friends, and when you consider that he won’t bank a fraction of what he made in his record-selling heydays of the 70s, it’s easy to believe. And songs like “Farewell” prove he isn’t really out to impress but rather to simply sing about what is moving him at the time. With the same apathy he held towards critics when he wrote “Batman, Superman, Spiderman” Stewart here reminisces about the good old days with a now deceased friend.  Clearly, at 73 years old, Rod Stewart doesn’t give a shit if ya think he’s corny. 

Consider: “All dressed up on a Friday night/getting drunk on cheap red wine/ Two north London boys just out on the town/Catch a train up to cool Soho, The Marquee and The Flamingo/Pills and chills and girls in heels and Georgie Fame/Making out we were millionaires, anything to get the girl upstairs.”  

 

Those lyrics aren’t going to make anyone forget “You Wear it Well” or “Every Picture Tells a Story” but they are sincere and honest in a way that does make one think of their own youth. And the song’s chorus (“Goodbye My Old Friend, I’ll Miss You. Yes I will”) might actually look quite trite on paper but when ran through the Stewart larynx, it’s as moving as when he thanked Muddy, Sam and Otis on 1995’s Spanner in the Works. It’s not the first time Rod the singer has saved Rod the writer and it won’t be the last.

And by the way, I believe when Rod passes on to that great stage in the sky, this is the one we, his avid followers will be singing. I think he’d like that.  B

 



4. Didn't I Featuring Bridget Cady 
Written by Rod Stewart, Kevin Savigar

Kevin Savigar: Producer  Rod Stewart: Producer  Kevin Savigar: Recording Arranger, Recording Engineer  Recorded at Celtic House/Satinwood, Los Angeles, US  Kevin Savigar: Mixer  Patrick Logue: Assistant Recording Engineer, Production Coordinator  Kevin Savigar: Keyboards, Programming  Emerson Swinford: Guitar  Julia Thornton: Tambourine

 

SHAUN SAYS... Just as Rod’s take on divorce (“It’s Over”) was the best song on Time, his take on drugs is the best song on Blood Red Roses. “Didn’t I” is flat out Stewart at his very best.

It’s a heartbreaking tale filled with regret, anger, guilt, stress and of course love. After a hundred plays, I still get chills every time I hear “watching you fight for your life.” (which by the way did NOT need an echo—let the voice do its magic.). I imagine I am not the only parent who does. The addition of the mother’s perspective is haunting and necessary. Bridget Cady may get a billing on the single because she’s related to her boss but she absolutely nails it. If the script calls for aching and pleading and your co-star is Rod Stewart, you’d best bring your A game. Cady does. “Didn’t I” makes plain that Rod Stewart has never lost the empathy and soul that made him a star. 

Coincidentally, I first heard this right after watching Steven Soderbergh’s great drug flick Traffic. If you haven’t seen it—do. You’ll see that “Didn’t I” is a perfect theme for the Michael Douglas character.  A+

 



5. Blood Red Roses 
Written by Rod Stewart, Kevin Savigar, Ewan MacColl 

Kevin Savigar: Producer  Rod Stewart: Producer  Kevin Savigar: Recording Arranger, Recording Engineer  Recorded at Celtic House, Los Angeles, US  Kevin Savigar: Mixer  Patrick Logue: Assistant Recording Engineer, Production Coordinator  Kevin Savigar: Keyboards, Programming  Emerson Swinford: Bass, Guitar  Conrad Korsch: Bass  David Palmer: Drums  J'Anna Jacoby: Violin  Adrianna Thurber: Violin  Julia Thornton: Tambourine  Paul Freeman: Background Vocalist  Casey Shea: Background Vocalist  James Carrington: Background Vocalist

 

SHAUN SAYS... As Rod said recently on Sirius Radio. “A song about whaling. Why not?” I’ve no desire to argue with that kind of logic. So I won’t, except to say I imagine Rod and Kevin banged the vocals out in about an hour and then Kevin did the rest while Rod played with his kids, built a bridge for his model railway or made mad passionate love to Penny. And as Rod would say, “what’s wrong with that?”  B-

 



6. Grace 
Written by Frank O'Meara, Sean O’Meara 

Kevin Savigar: Producer  Rod Stewart: Producer  Kevin Savigar: Recording Arranger, Recording Engineer  Recorded at Palm Beach, Palm Beach, Florida, US  Kevin Savigar: Mixer  Patrick Logue: Assistant Recording Engineer, Production Coordinator  Kevin Savigar: Keyboards, Programming  Emerson Swinford: Guitar  Di Reed: Background Vocalist  Bridget Cady: Background Vocalist  Becca Kotte: Background Vocalist  J'Anna Jacoby: Violin

 

SHAUN SAYS... I may whine and bitch a lot that Sir Rod should always use all his gifts and stick to writing, more writing and then writing some more. But as much as I sometimes hate to admit it, he is and always has been a brilliant interpreter. His versions of “Mama, You’ve Been on My Mind,” “Reason to Believe” and “Rainy Night in Georgia” are definitive.  (Even the unfinished “Long Journey Home” by Elvis Costello from the Rod Stewart Sessions hints at greatness.)

And there have been songs that seem to almost cry out for the Stewart treatment (“I Don’t Want to Talk About it”; “Rhythm of My Heart”). “Grace” is such a song.

He may not be able to belt out “Hot Legs” or “Stay With Me” like he did in 1980, but he seems to have lost none of his ability to convey heartbreak in a ballad. Politics be damned, this is a perfect match for the Stewart pipes. A

 



7. Give Me Love 
Written by Rod Stewart, Kevin Savigar 

Kevin Savigar: Producer  Rod Stewart: Producer  Kevin Savigar: Engineer, Recording Arranger, Recording Engineer  Recorded at Celtic House/Satinwood, Los Angeles, US  Kevin Savigar: Mixer  Patrick Logue: Assistant Recording Engineer, Production Coordinator  Emerson Swinford: Guitar  Anne King: Trumpet  Jimmy Roberts: Saxophone  Nick Lane: Trombone  Fred White: Background Vocalist  Darryl Phinnessee: Background Vocalist  Kevin Savigar: Keyboards, Programming  Will Wheaton: Background Vocalist  Pamela Olivia: Background Vocalist  Felicia Glissom: Background Vocalist  Julia Thornton: Tambourine  Paul Freeman: Background Vocalist  Brent Jones: Background Vocalist  Becca Kotte: Background Vocalist  Bridget Cady: Background Vocalist  Di Reed: Background Vocalist 

 

SHAUN SAYS... Twelve tracks plus three bonus cuts is a good number for an album.  F



8. Rest Of My Life 
Written by Rod Stewart, Kevin Savigar 

Kevin Savigar: Producer  Rod Stewart: Producer 
Recorded at Celtic House/Satinwood, Los Angeles, US  Kevin Savigar: Mixer  Kevin Savigar: Recording Arranger, Recording Engineer, Patrick Logue: Assistant Recording Engineer, Production Coordinator  David Palmer: Drums  Felicia Glissom: Background Vocalist  Julia Thornton: Tambourine  Kevin Savigar: Keyboards, Programming  Pamela Olivia: Background Vocalist

 

SHAUN SAYS... Rod’s late career insistence on writing about his late-in-life happiness  (“She Makes Me Happy”; “Beautiful Morning”) continues with this joyous nod to Motown. It would have fit perfectly on his Soulbook album (in fact it would have been the best track).  Like Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl,” it is both an homage and truly original.

A happy occasion for all; Rod expressing his love of life.  A

 


 

9. Rollin' & Tumblin' 
Written by Hambone Willie Newbern, Sunnyland Slim

Kevin Savigar: Producer  Rod Stewart: Producer 
Recorded at Celtic House/Satinwood, Los Angeles, US  Kevin Savigar: Mixer  Kevin Savigar: Recording Arranger, Recording Engineer, Patrick Logue: Assistant Recording Engineer, Production Coordinator  Kevin Savigar: Keyboards, Programming  Adrianna Thurber: Violin  Becca Kotte: Background Vocalist  Bridget Cady: Background Vocalist  Conrad Korsch: Bass  David Palmer: Drums  Di Reed: Background Vocalist  Emerson Swinford: Electric Guitar  J'Anna Jacoby: Violin  Don Kirkpatrick: Electric Guitar  Chuck Kentis: Programming

 

SHAUN SAYS... Rod finally records this old blues rocker he’s been performing in concert for years. Singing a bit deeper than we’re used to, he and his longtime touring band give this one an irreverent and rowdy feel that’s perfect for this selection. Another great cover for Mr. Stewart. B+

 



10. Julia
Written by Rod Stewart, Jon McLaughlin, Dave Thomas Junior 

Kevin Savigar: Producer  Rod Stewart: Producer  Kevin Savigar: Recording Arranger, Recording Engineer  Recorded at Four Seasons Hotel, Boston, US  Kevin Savigar: Mixer  Patrick Logue: Assistant Recording Engineer, Production Coordinator  Emerson Swinford: Guitar  Kevin Savigar: Keyboards, Programming

 

SHAUN SAYS... It’s not often the Beatles come up in a Rod Stewart review—Rod has admitted he’s not the biggest Fab Four fan and though he’s covered a few Lennon/McCartney tunes (“Get Back”; “In My Life”) he was obviously more inspired by Sam Cooke, the Stones and even Al Jolson. But “Julia” truly sounds like something could have been on The White Album. I am not only referring to the obvious Lennon tune of the same name but just the general feel.

But lyrically it’s all Rod Stewart.  Rod tells the story of his first crush, and while it’s not quite heartbreaking, it is touching, and frankly a lot of fun. It does recall the hilarious story Rod tells in his autobiography about hanging around a girl’s house as a young teen, hoping to catch a glimpse of her. He confesses he would have no idea what he would have said if she actually spoke to him. (I recall doing the same thing when I was boy, but the way. Her name was Mary Beth.)

Co-producer Kevin Savigar said the tune was originally created by the song’s two co-writers. Rod reportedly heard some of their songs at a Celtic football game.

Initially an instrumental, Savigar said Rod added some lyrics and they recorded it pretty much the same as the original.  B+

 



11. Honey Gold
Written by Rod Stewart, Emerson Swinford 

Kevin Savigar: Producer  Rod Stewart: Producer  Kevin Savigar: Recording Arranger, Recording Engineer  Recorded at Celtic House/Satinwood, Los Angeles, US  Kevin Savigar: Mixer  Patrick Logue: Assistant Recording Engineer, Production Coordinator  Kevin Savigar: Keyboards, Programming  Emerson Swinford: Bass Guitar, Guitar  Brent Jones: Background Vocalist  Bridget Cady: Background Vocalist  Darryl Phinnessee: Background Vocalist  Di Reed: Background Vocalist  Felicia Glissom: Background Vocalist  Fred White: Background Vocalist  Pamela Olivia: Background Vocalist  Paul Freeman: Background Vocalist  Will Wheaton: Background Vocalist  Taylr Lindersmith: Background Vocalist

 

SHAUN SAYS... As if we need another reason to love Bob Dylan. This one is obviously heavily influenced by Dylan but as far as I can tell, it is also uniquely Rod Stewart.

Unlike many other Stewart songs in the past five years, I have no previous Stewart song to refer to. The words don’t always rhyme but they don’t need to. Rod sings (or talks) with such conviction it’s actually mesmerizing. And what lyrics they are.

 

"I remember you at a rally for peace in the summer of 95/When you marched through the streets of London/With all your children by your side/No man ever claimed you/No women ever changed you/Put a sign on the door, you’re untouchable/With all your blue-blooded connections And all those friends in high places/There’s a rumor going around/You even partied with the Faces. "

 

Rod’s currently not saying who this one’s about—maybe the mystery will take on a life of its own ala Carly Simon’s “You’re so Vain.” Mystery aside “Honey” is gold.

An instant Stewart classic. A

 



12. Vegas Shuffle 
Written by Rod Stewart, Emerson Swinford

Kevin Savigar: Producer  Rod Stewart: Producer  Kevin Savigar: Recording Arranger, Recording Engineer  Recorded at Celtic House/Satinwood, Los Angeles, US  Kevin Savigar: Mixer  Patrick Logue: Assistant Recording Engineer, Production Coordinator  Kevin Savigar: Keyboards, Programming  Emerson Swinford: Bass, Guitar  Becca Kotte: Background Vocalist  Bridget Cady: Background Vocalist  Di Reed: Background Vocalist

 

SHAUN SAYS... Rod Stewart has always had a first class band behind him. (Despite what critics will tell you, even the first group he put together after the Faces was pretty good.). But when he added Emerson Swinford to the mix back on 2013, it added a strong musical personality that immediately shone through.

Vegas Shuffle is kick-ass rocker that grooves like few others and sounds to me like an Emerson Swinford song. (If you haven’t got hold of Emerson’s 2016 album, I suggest you find it.). Lyrically it’s also witty and cool. It does recall the Stones a bit and, well, not a thing wrong with that.   A

 



13. Cold Old London Featuring Bridget Cady 
Written by Rod Stewart, Kevin Savigar 

Kevin Savigar: Producer  Rod Stewart: Producer  Kevin Savigar: Recording Arranger, Recording Engineer  Recorded at Celtic House/Satinwood, Los Angeles, US  Kevin Savigar: Mixer  Patrick Logue: Assistant Recording Engineer, Production Coordinator  Kevin Savigar: Keyboards, Programming  Darryl Phinnessee: Background Vocalist  Fred White: Background Vocalist  Will Wheaton: Background Vocalist

 

SHAUN SAYS... This is another case of Rod the singer saving Rod the writer. Yes, I am the one constantly harping that Rod is a great writer and should have never stopped. But even the best writers occasionally struggle, and not every line is a grand slam. “Cold Old London” is beautifully sung by Rod and Bridget Cady, but doesn’t quite seem 100% believable. But ultimately it’s Rod Stewart, crooner, singing a decent original ballad.

That in itself is a wonderful thing.  B

 

 

BONUS TRACKS

 

 14. Who Designed the Snowflake?

Written by Paddy MacAloon 

 

SHAUN SAYS...Ah…the bonus cuts, that new millennium marketing ploy designed to separate more cash from our wallets. Rod has been all over these since 2013—Time actually had six of them, and at least four were pretty good. Ironically, Another Country had one of the very best throw away of Rod’s career (“Last Train Home”) and maybe the worst (“Great Day”). The three bonus cuts on Roses are all pretty good.

 

“Snowflake” is a tender, clever acoustic ballad that would have been a perfect fit on Rod’s better-than-average Christmas album or any of the Songbooks. Not sure how Rod found this or how it found him but for a bonus it’s a cut above the rest.  B-

 

15. It Was a Very Good Year

Written by E, Drake

 

SHAUN SAYS...Ninety-five percent of Stewart nation fears that our boy will return to the dreaded songbook series. While I am most definitely a part of that 95%, I can still appreciate when Rod would occasionally breathe new life into a standard. “Good Year” is one of those times.

Unlike many of the Songbook covers, he sings this one with some grit and intensity. The production is fine as well, raising it well above the average standard cover. And kudos to Rod for adding the last verse, an obvious nod to the Penny he found at 53. It could have come across as corny but the conviction of the vocalist carries it home.   B+

 

16. I Don’t Want to Get Married

Written by Rod Stewart, Kevin Savigar

 

SHAUN SAYS... Rod’s third stab at reggae, (If I am counting correctly). At first I groaned when I heard him break into a Jamaican accent but eventually the lyrics won me over. Witty and catchy, this one works thanks to Rod’s vocal charms and somwehat silly lyrics.  Slightly better than the mediocre Love and be Loved from Another Country. B

 

Conclusion

 

Time brought us the return of Rod Stewart.  Another Country was “Time Part II”, a slightly less effective collection that basically continued the format. Blood Red Roses shows Rod Stewart and Kevin Savigar being far more creative than on the other two. As we saw, it is with varying degrees of success but the fact that this 73-year old legend has the ambition to create is astonishing and inspiring.

May he continue this trend for many years to come. I simply do not want to live in a time when I cannot look forward to the next Rod Stewart album.

 

 Long Live Rod. 

 

Final Grade: A-

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