Why I love Rod Stewart

Plus: Sam Ryder would have a lot more fun if someone allowed him to be more like Rod

Reader, I let you down. But I did so for the right reason: for love. On a night when all of London’s music critics were at the Royal Festival Hall for Christine and the Queens, I deserted my duty. But, honestly, I don’t regret it. The reports back from the RFH suggested some baffling melange of performance art, am dram, experimental pop and gender identity, wrapped up in a concept piece about red cars. Not me. I’ll stick with Rod, a man so comfortable with his gender identity that he’s a byword for male libido.


My love for Rod Stewart is pure and noble. I love that he embraces his own absolute Rodness; that, at just shy of 77, he’s still all leopardskin print and skintight trousers, hair like a haystack in which some young couple have been writhing. I love his rueful roguishness, the fact that he knows all the bad things he has done, and doesn’t regret them. Most of all, I love his music. Not all of it – you could make several box sets out of records it would be better Rod Stewart had never made – but anything he recorded for Mercury in the early 1970s is pretty much guaranteed to be brilliant, and there were startling singles for a good while afterwards.

But, yes, he’s 77. His voice has not been what it once was for a fair few years – he struggled with high notes at the O2, often descending instead of ascending the octaves; there was no disguising the thinness a lot of the time, and the pitch sometimes betrayed his frailties. He doesn’t stride around the stage like a Cockney peacock any longer. The age gap between him and his young, blonde backing singers is getting ridiculous. And the notion of him singing ‘It’s late September and I really should be back in school’ is just silly. What kind of school? Evening pottery classes?

But when he needed to be good, he was very, very good. Ten songs in, he took on Etta James’s ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ – he recorded his own version in 1972 – and the years suddenly counted for him. The lyric is nothing much – the singer is sad because their lover is leaving – but the expression of every syllable was perfect, racked and despairing. As with Sinatra in his dotage, at this point you are paying as much for Rod’s understanding of a song as for his voice. At its ending, he turned away from the crowd and muttered into the mic, half to himself, half to the audience, ‘Still got it.’ He really does.


There were lots of little pleasures, often in unexpected places. I’d entirely forgotten the 1984 single ‘Infatuation’ – largely because it deserves to be forgotten – but laughed out loud at its vocal hook, which is essence of Rod: ‘Oh no! Not again!’ Of course, you old bounder. Of course it’s happening again! ‘Young Turks’, from 1981, was brilliant synth-driven, motorik, new-wave pop, the sound on which the War on Drugs have launched an entire career.

Of course, you don’t get stars like Rod Stewart any longer. Part of the reason is that it’s pretty much unthinkable that a young artist could build a career from the simple proposition that they are willing to sleep with anyone of the opposite sex, and then live that life without them becoming the latest sex-pest cause célèbre. Partly it’s because Rod made his name at a time when artists were allowed to pursue their own paths – those Mercury records blissfully blend soul and folk and R&B and rock’n’roll. Partly it’s because the great theme of Rod’s career – not giving a monkey’s what anyone else thinks – is no longer considered viable. Singers these days have to be brands more than people.

Part 1: Where Our Hero Tries to Find His Voice: The Singles 1964-1969

Rod Stewart: Year by Year, Track by Track

Part 2 1968-1970

Part 2: In Which our Hero Joins a Band or Two and Makes His Mark as a Solo Artist

Rod Stewart: Year by Year, Track by Track

Part 3 1970-1972

Part 3: In Which Our Hero Wakes Up, Kicks a Woman Out of Bed and Becomes a Superstar

Rod Stewart: Year by Year, Track by Track

Part 4 1972-1975

Part 4: In Which Our Hero Loses a Band, but Gains a New Home



Rod Stewart: Year by Year, Track by Track

Part 5 1975-1978

Part 5: In Which Our Hero Polishes HIs Sound, Falls in Love with a Bond Girl and Other Musings of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Superstar



Rod Stewart: Year by Year, Track by Track

Part 6 1978-1981

Part 6: In Which Our Hero Sells His Rock ‘N’ Roll Soul to the Disco Devil and Laughs All the Way to Hell and a Number One Smash Hit



Rod Stewart: Year by Year, Track by Track

Part 7 1982-1984

Part 7: In Which Our Hero is Part of the Sex Police, a Cruel But Fair and Thankless Job



Part 8: In Which Our Hero Continues His Chart Topping Ways By Staying Forever Young

Would you pay 1,000 dollars for Rod Stewart's heart?
Rosalind Russell, Record Mirror, 29 October 1977
Rosalind Russell finds out the hard way
BACKSTAGE AT Madison Square Garden in New York there's a marquee set up to house the food and drinks bar. Potted trees and tables with sun umbrellas complete the scene; it's quite a Mediterranean picture. At one of the tables the latest in the line of Rod Stewart's girlfriends is seething... and worrying that she's about to become the last but latest.
Ten feet away there's a stunning looking lady, Beverly Keller, who describes herself as a model. She has a friend in tow (looks better that way, not so obvious) and the two have been trying to get back to the dressing rooms.
A security officer invites them into his office where he has a friend. As he goes to close the door on prying eyes his other hand slips comfortably over Ms Keller's ample bum. The girls don't re-emerge for a while but when they do they have permission to take up a coveted position at the side of the stage during the show. The same position in fact, that Rod's girlfriend occupied the night before.
Bebe Buell (the girlfriend) is hopping mad but won't admit to being jealous.
"I'm not the jealous kind," she tells me, drumming her fingers on the table. "I have nothing to worry about from HER. I'm just a bit neurotic. If she comes near I'll hit her."
Bebe is a cracker herself and nothing like Rod's usual type. She's statuesque, with a stream of fair hair which fans out over her shoulders. She has enormous eyes which are sending out unmistakeably hostile signals tonight.
It's not that she's unused to having her men chased by other women. She split up from Todd Rundgren six weeks ago and she has a baby daughter by him. She's also been keeping company with stars like Bowie, Ron Wood and Steve Tyler of Aerosmlth. Her picture has graced Playboy.
"Tell me," she leans across and whispers, "what was Britt really like?"
Bebe has known Rod for a long time and tells me they've always been attracted to each other, though she didn't do anything about it because she was with Todd and he with Britt (though such considerations rarely troubled Rod). But they've only been together for a week or so. She is only one of the horde of beautiful women swarming round Stewart on this tour, albeit one with brains as well as looks. There's Doris who does his make-up — she's attractive, smiling, efficient... and heavy-handed. Rod went onstage looking as if someone had thrown him a bag of Max Factor products and told him to get on with it.
There's Rita, the masseuse, a strong foxy-looking lady. There's Rod's costume designer, slim, pretty, dressed like an actress from 2001, in her sliver, skin-tight pantsuit, (looking fully recovered from her recent drug overdose), keeping husband Jim Cregan company while he's working with Rod. Carol Bayer Sager is there with her old man (she's recording a new song called 'You're Moving In Today' because they've had a reconciliation).
I'd heard a whisper that Britt Ekland was actually considering coming to the show (can you imagine that scene?).
"No dear," says Rod's PR man Tony Toon, stopping only for a minute from his harassing round of duties, "she wouldn't dare show up here."
Elton's manager John Reid holds court with Rod's manager Billy Gaff and Steve Harley; friends are greeted rapturously; the chauffeurs huddle together around the line of limousines; the stage hands run around like maniacs. The promoter smiles expansively (and expensively). The smell of money hangs heavy In the air.
Out front the second crowd of 20,000 is going bananas. This show has sold out like the first one. The floor is bouncing under the weight of the audience. At the side of the stage Ms Keller has taken up a prime position. Her security-conscious friend reassumes his acquaintanceship with her charms. Those of us with less obvious charms are ordered to vacate the area.
As the show draws to a close, Bebe gets into the leading limo, ready to take off with Rod. The driveway to the backstage area winds right up inside the Garden itself. Guards are stationed at the entrance, ready to start the split-second operation of getting the band out before the fans can get out of the theatre and run around to the stage entrance.
Like the night before the band run from the stage and dive straight into the cars. In our car the driver yells "Lock the doors and windows" as we scream down the driveway.
It's all a bit unreal; police cars with their lights flashing clear the way, people press their faces against the darkened windows as we get caught at the traffic lights. I feel like one of the Mafia sitting in this opulent monster of a car.
But the car is probably the least of the expenses on the road with the Stewart entourage. He has 43 people travelling with him (that includes the masseuse, make-up lady, three guitar tuners, a piano tuner, secretary, PR man, 10 management men and finally the stage hands).
Rod's suite at the exclusive Pierre Hotel in New York costs £176 a night. We had dinner there — for a party of 15 — and the bill came to almost £590. A brandy cost £4 (a glass, not the bottle).
In the bar they charge £2.50 to listen to the combo that plays while you drink. They don't knock off the price if you sit with your fingers in your ears either. That's the price you'd pay to see a decent gig at Birmingham Town Hall or Hammersmith Odeon. You might even have enough left over to buy a pint. But then New York ain't London and Birmingham Town Hall ain't Madison Square.
The night before the first show Rod was nervous. He kept his talking to a minimum as his throat was strained. He'd already blown out a gig in Buffalo.
In the hotel bar, two raucous matrons have been swopping filthy jokes, their language contrasting strangely with the rinse in their hair. They fall silent as Stewart bowls over.
There is a small contretemps as the management point out he's not wearing a tie. The matter is resolved. Stewart tells me proudly he's the only person — ever — who's been allowed into this bar without a tie.
He's looking well, though his hair has all spilt with the bleach he's been using on it.
"I like it like this. It looks better," he says defensively.
At dinner he sits with the non-smokers so his throat isn't irritated. He's treated like a delicate child.
"He's been very good," says PR man Toon. "It's such a happy tour, not like it was with the Faces."
But Stewart looks morose. Even with the lovely Bebe by his side he doesn't look like a man that's footloose and fancy free. He becomes more animated when he breaks his no-talking rule and discusses the album. Then we get onto the subject of Bebe's daughter.
"I'd love to have a kid," says Rod. "But I'd like the mother to hand it over to me at birth to bring up. I don't want the other ties..."
Britt's name hangs over us un-mentioned, and Bebe tells him he couldn't cope with the responsibility.
One thing's certain: he'd have no shortage of volunteers to mother his child...
At the gig in Washington, women were seemingly queueing up to be chosen as a partner for the evening obviously not worried that this most eligible of bachelors might lose half his fortune if Britt wins her case against him.
The opening night at Madison Square: Rod tells his audience he's nervous though he doesn't look it. For the first half of his show he's wearing a black pantsuit so tight it looks as if it's painted on his body. The top is slashed across from one shoulder, exposing his right breast. Over that he wears a red blouse and sash. Round his hips is a broad diamanté-studded belt which has a matching wrist strap.
As they start with 'Three Time Loser' Stewart goes into his routine. He postures, poses, every movement calculated to stimulate, as graceful as a dancer. He prances over to one side of the stage, bows elaborately to the audience and skids back to the mike to catch the next line.
During 'You Wear It Well' he leaps to the top of the white grand piano and wiggles his bum. The audience loves it. Stewart doesn't risk many of his new numbers on them, in fact the set is similar to the show he did here last winter. 'Tonight's The Night' gives Cregan and Gary Grainger the chance to show their skills in individual guitar spots.
The entire band looks more confident and although they're obviously still very much under Stewart's control their separate personalities are allowed to come over much more noticeably. For instance on 'Hot Legs' — a track from the Footloose And Fancy Free album — John Jarvis plays a superb piece on keyboards.
The fans are alternately up and down on the seats but tight security prevents any excesses — even from the British contingent waving the Scottish flag at Rod, much to the bewilderment of the Americans who haven't a clue what it is. Fans who give trouble are yanked out in a stranglehold, some are given more violent treatment.
'Sweet Little Rock 'N' Roller' creates the expected excitement, but still Rod doesn't seem to be sure if he's got his audience. At the end he asks for confirmation of their approval.
But one of my favourites is 'This Old Heart Of Mine'. This song has been expanded and developed into a masterpiece. Rhythm guitarist Billy Peek goes offstage for a break, after a short while Grainger and Cregan follow. Rod goes off and leaves bass player Phil Chen and drummer Carmine Appice. Phil plays a spirited solo, his face contorted in concentration, and it's perfect.
The audience goes mad but it still isn't enough for Stewart. At the end he asks: "What's wrong with you? Are the drugs wearing off or something?"
The other song which has been worked on extensively is 'The Killing Of Georgie'. A lamp-post is carried onstage with a New York street sign on it. Stewart sinks gracefully at the foot of it (looking like Margot Fonteyn doing her bit in Swan Lake) and a filmed backdrop of the New York skyline appears behind the stage. The performance is stunning. It just leaves me numb for a few minutes.
By the time he swings into 'Maggie May' even the people in the circles are on their feet — normally the parts other bands don't reach (who needs Heineken?) When the crowd joins in the chorus Rod is satisfied.
He changes his outfit for 'You Keep Me Hanging On' from the black suit to a red one. At the end of this number (which finishes with his lying on the stage) he yells at the crowd: "God Almighty, I was bleeding down here on the stage."
The British fans are getting bolder and sneaking down the front — you can tell they're not American, 'cos they still have their sticking plasters over their smallpox jabs.
Rod pays tribute to them before the encore, 'Twisting The Night Away' and 'First Cut Is The Deepest', and then it's all over. The audience light their lighters and hold them up all over the auditorium as Stewart and Co make their getaway.
Back at the hotel Rod has stripped, had a shower and is relaxing in front of a video of the Scotland-Wales World Cup game. He's wearing only a white towel around his waist so his all-over tan looks expensively healthy.
"You have to see this goal," he says enthusiastically, grabbing me by the arm. "Just look at THAT!"
The excitement is abruptly dampened by the arrival of one of the hotel management who says he's had complaints about the noise. Rod asks what kind of old whatnots they've got staying in this place; he's annoyed but turns it down. Bebe stretches out on the sofa — she's made it to the hotel and so far there's no competition in sight.
When Rod leaves the room she mentions the model at the show.
"It's awful," she says. "She even got her picture on the front page of the papers but it wasn't in a picture with Rod. It was two separate pictures. I was furious. Rod has told me I'm not like any of his other girlfriends. He's so kind and so generous. We get on very well... But you must tell me about Britt..."
Rod returns and the conversation is quickly changed. I ask him if his single 'You're In My Heart' was written for Britt or Scotland.
"The song could be about Scotland," he says, "but it would be wrong to generalise. Everybody seems to think the song is about Britt but it's nothing in particular. Two verses were about her... work them out for yourself. Oh, I suppose the ones about lace and silk and finery.
"The chorus is about Scotland and the first verse is definitely NOT about Britt. You can equate the two, football and women. There's no reason you can't love both."
It's obvious to everyone he changed a lot when he met Britt. Has his life changed again since they split?
"Life has changed. I'm back to what I was originally. Back to... I don't want to say one of the boys because it sounds corny... well, one of the boys without an anchor around my neck. I'm not being watched now, not spied on.
"She smartened me up a bit but I've always been flash. I've never been sophisticated."
Since the well-publicised break-up of their relationship his name has been linked with a stream of women, including Lindsay Oliver and Bianca. Ms Oliver was furious when she learned his affair with her was closely followed by his taking Bianca to dinner. I thought the story about Ms Oliver looked like a put-up job to publicise the new LP but he denies it.
"I'd known her for about a year," he tells me. "And anyway, I wasn't going out with Bianca. I don't like her. She and Britt are two of a kind, both bitches. "
I can see this line of interview is irritating him but Bebe listens with interest. What about the track on the album called 'I Don't Want To Be Right'?
"I didn't even write that song, it was written in 1969. I really felt I could sing it and I'm in the fortunate position it's selling. I recorded it just when Britt and I were splitting up.
"I was screwing someone else..."
Is that why you split up?
A terse "yes. " He asks me what I think of the album and I tell him that although I like it I'd have preferred to have some more hard rock and roll songs and less sad ones.
"I think it's the best album I've ever made. What do you mean it's sad?" he answered, his voice rising. "That's just the way you felt when you heard it. 'Hot Legs' is a great track, so is 'You're Insane'. What are you talking about?
"This band is great. I'm sick of people comparing them to the Faces. Which do you think is the better band? Come on now, which do you think is the better band?"
Well, what do you say? I pause and that only makes him madder.
"Oh come on..."
Well, why shouldn't I like the Faces? Why can't I like both bands? I'm not prepared to put down the energy and excitement of the Faces just because I think this new band is good too. So is he ashamed of what he did with the Faces?
"No, I'm not ashamed of anything. But I'm just sick of you all, you people are living in the past, five years behind..."
Well, as it wasn't me that even brought up the subject I didn't see why I should get such a verbal pasting in the argument. He must still be very sensitive about the band.
"There's more truth on that new album than anything else I've ever written before. I just laid myself open," he says vehemently. "You can see behind the man. It's the first time I've put all this down, I laid myself bare. This band brings out the best in me."
I notice that during this heated exchange of opinions everyone else has left the room. And the argument wasn't as spirited as it might have been if Stewart didn't have to keep hoiking up his towel as it kept slipping when he turned away from me or waved his arm in annoyance. Made it more interesting though..."
What about his new life in Los Angeles, is he fitting into the social scene there?
"No, I'm not part of the social scene, I'm never there. Anyway, 'You're Insane' is dedicated to LA, the maddest city in the world. I've never been involved in it. I've been touring, been on holiday, I had the new LP to record, there's the World Cup coming up, I'll be touring Europe... how can I be part of the scene?"
Perhaps it's just as well the interview can't continue. There's a party at the exclusive Regine's and we're all running late. Down in the lobby two fans from the UK are waiting to see Rod.
"Please don't invite them with us," pleads Tony Toon. "We haven't got enough room in the car."
Rod stops to talk to them — and invites them to join us.
"If they don't go, I don't," he says — and starts to walk away. All right. We all squash in together. Down at the club the heart shaped-buttons that are the invitations are changing hands for 1,000 dollars. People grab at them as we try to get past.
Inside the place is wall-to-wall people. The guests Include Carol Bayer Sager, actor Peter Boyle, Carly Simon and James Taylor, Steve Harley (who is still putting down the music press in Britain), Stevie Nicks, Duncan McKay and Robert Palmer. Most important of all, John Lennon and his missus, who manage to upstage Rod at his own party.
Mind you, the place can't be that exclusive because a pickpocket did his work well, quietly lifting money from our pockets as we all got bevvied. Maybe I SHOULD have flogged that button after all.
But would you have paid 1,000 dollars for it? If you're as crazy as some of the people there, I suppose you might have done. It's just one part of the lunacy that happens on a Rod Stewart tour.

The THIRD cut is the deepest! Why Rod Stewart’s 1971 classic sounds as fresh as ever half a century on


Parts of Rod Stewart’s back catalogue have been given the reissue treatment – but lurking in his lengthy discography is a true classic that has just turned 50.


The remastered Atlantic Crossing, A Night On The Town, Foot Loose & Fancy Free and Blondes Have More Fun capture the smooth, radio-friendly style he adopted after moving to Los Angeles.


Released on Friday in the deluxe Rod Stewart 1975-1978 vinyl box set, these albums do not capture the singer at his artistic peak.


For that, you must go back to Every Picture Tells A Story, his third solo LP and the one that made him a superstar. It topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic when it came out in 1971, spawned the single Maggie May and was voted Album of the Year by Rolling Stone.


A mix of four original songs and six covers, it was the record on which Rod, then 26, found not just his voice but also a distinctive style – a blend of folk, rock and soul that looked to the States for inspiration but was somehow quintessentially British.


I’ve been reminded of Every Picture Tells A Story a few times in recent weeks. Two contemporary singers, Chrissie Hynde and New York electronic-pop artist Vagabon, have released their own versions of songs covered on Every Picture.

Chrissie’s take on Bob Dylan’s Tomorrow Is A Long Time is simple and emotional. Vagabon, duetting with Australian singer Courtney Barnett, opts for tender harmonies on her version of Tim Hardin’s Reason To Believe. Neither, though, is a patch on Rod.

His take on Reason To Believe, in particular, is the definitive version. If there’s anyone unconvinced by his credentials as one of our greatest singers, I’d point them to the a cappella section two-and-a-half minutes into that song.

With his superb phrasing and that familiar raspy tone, he’s never sounded better. As his backing musicians re-enter the track one by one, piano followed by fiddle, bass, acoustic guitar and drums, his performance becomes more intense. By the end of the song, he’s singing his heart out.

1971’s Every Picture Tells A Story was Rod Stewart’s third solo LP

And that’s the thing about Rod. There are singers who might be more accomplished technically, never hitting a wrong note. But he sings like he means it. His voice is never anything less than real and it’s that authenticity that sets him apart on this album. Whether the words are his own or penned by others, such as Dylan or blues singer Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup (he covers the latter’s That’s All Right), Rod is never less than believable.

At a time when music was becoming more po-faced – with 1970s progressive rock bands producing cosmic odysseys and rock operas – he didn’t take himself too seriously. He was the unpretentious lad who loved football, glamorous women and boozing with his pals.

On the title track, he wrote of hitching around Europe and getting caught up in a Parisian student riot. He sang about being unable to quote ‘Dickens, Shelley or Keats’, and, on Maggie May, told of a schoolboy’s affair with an older woman – a tale that might cause a few raised eyebrows were it to be the basis of a No1 single today.

Back then, it was seen simply as a vivid character sketch, albeit one that broke all the rules of a three-minute pop single by having no discernible chorus or middle eight. The track was only added to the album at the last minute because the record company, Mercury, felt the LP was too short. Even when it was released as a single, it was originally a B-side to Reason To Believe. One can’t help but wonder how things might have turned out for Rod if it had failed to make the album’s final cut.

Every Picture was also the album that set Rod’s image in stone. A tousle-haired dandy in satin jacket, silk scarf and jumpers that barely reached his navel, he was the lovable rogue who, with his band the Faces, would define everyman rock.

The Faces all play on Every Picture alongside a motley crew of session men. In typically ramshackle fashion, Newcastle musician Ray Jackson, whose mandolin provided the album’s signature sound, was credited as ‘the mandolin player out of Lindisfarne whose name I can’t remember’. Even more typically, given the Faces’ hard-drinking reputation, there were credits for two mysterious guests: Martell Brandy and Mateus Rosé.

When I interviewed Rod in 2013, he had nothing but fond memories of the time. ‘Nothing about me was conventional, either the way I looked or the way I sang,’ he told me. ‘When I was breaking through, it was all pretty boys with pretty voices. I was all nose and hair.

‘With the Faces, we avoided the glam-rock stuff Bowie and Bolan were into. We’d hit a few bum notes if we’d been in the pub too long, but we’d let that go. You can’t make an Every Picture Tells A Story every year of your career.’ Five decades on, it’s still his finest moment

Rod Stewart & Britt Ekland- Dublin, NME August 1975

Rod Stewart was a tax exile in 1975 which meant he couldn’t spend more than 3 months a year in England. To promote his new album Atlantic Crossing , the British media were invited to interview him in Dublin.

After a delay at Heathrow Airport,  and along with girlfriend Britt Ekland, he conducted the interviews in the Elizabeth Taylor suite at the Gresham Hotel. This included a TV interview with BBC Nationwide who also took some footage of him out and about on Moore St which was later used for his Sailing video.(see YouTube video below – don’t worry it’s not the whole song – just the Dublin bits)

All the photos in the NME article, including the fantastic cover shot from Moore St, are by Joe Stevens with the article  by Steve Clarke. All scanned by Brand New Retro.



Rod Stewart - Storyteller Review

Rod Stewart - Storyteller

WHEN most artists release a greatest hits package you can usually expect one or two discs of singles and specially chosen tracks.

So it is quite telling that Rod Stewart's Storyteller collection comes with four CDs and a total of 64 songs.

Spanning from 1964 to 1989, the 'complete anthology' shows off Stewart's versatility and his enduring status as one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

The collection in chronological order shows how he has evolved over the course of selling more than 100 million records.

So you have his early work in the 1960s, which is a bit more raw, including his experimental tracks with The Jeff Beck Group like I Ain't Superstitious and Shape of Things.

You could argue that Stewart had his best work in the early 70s though with rock and roll tracks like Cut Across Shorty and the excellent Stay With Me, which was covered by the Foo Fighters on their recent tour.

The catchy Maggie May has passed the test of time too.

Stewart is also known for his covers like Handbags and Gladrags and (I Know) I'm Losing You.

You will find plenty of songs written by other artists on Storyteller – perhaps too many – and is up to the listener to decide if these other 'stories' should have a place in this treasury.

Another interesting element to the collection is how the 80s influence creeps in with Stewart's music taking a turn into cheesy rock territory fast.

And the songs between 1980 and 1989 strangely feel much more outdated than anything he recorded in the 60s and 70s.

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No doubt fans will enjoy how comprehensive this package is but a new generation of listeners probably could do with a collection that is a lot more concise.



There’s plenty of passion in singer’s follow-up to 2013’s successful ‘Time’

Rod Stewart’s Another Country is stage two of his return to songwriting after a decade of Great American Songbook albums and the follow-up to 2013’s successful Time.

Don’t be turned off by the uninspiring cover — there’s plenty of passion inside, like the pair of songs inspired by the lives and fates of soldiers, the title track and Way Back Home. The latter features a Winston Churchill voiceover about never surrendering, just like Supertramp’s Fool’s Overture from 1977.

There’s room for joyous Gaelic sounds despite some by-the-numbers melodies, featherweight reggae with Love and Be Loved and an enthusiastic, biting Please, the kind of steady rocker Joe Cocker thrived on and, oh, right, so did Stewart back in the day.

On a lullaby dedicated to the youngest of his eight children, Batman Superman Spiderman, Stewart contrasts today’s superheroes with the “castles, kings and knights” of his own childhood stories, while the laid-back Can We Stay Home Tonight? sounds like an increasingly attractive proposal as time goes by.

On The Drinking Song Stewart shows no remorse for years (decades?) of the high life, because, after all, he can always blame the beverage.

Two non-originals close the album, of which A Friend for Life — a tender track by Steve Harley and Jim Cregan — provides ample proof of Stewart’s interpretative skills.

The deluxe edition is worth the extra investment, especially for the groovy, Stax-like One Night With You and the original, late 60’s version of In A Broken Dream, a song Stewart first sang with Australian bank Python Lee Jackson and which was sampled recently by rapper A$AP Rocky.

Rod Stewart, Another Country - album review: You old romantic, Rod

There’s a rollicking charm to Another Country that’s warmly engaging at its best; but of course, it wouldn’t be a Rod Stewart album without a few irritations along the way. 

In his favour, there’s a plain-speaking directness about Rod’s songwriting that pays dividends when it comes to matters of the heart. As, for instance, on the opening “Love Is”, where banjo and fiddle create a jaunty, folksy air of celtic flavour while Stewart essays his corny but effective celebration of love: “Love is life, and love is yearning/It does not boast, but speaks the truth”. It’s simple, straight to the point, and its refusal to hide behind metaphor confirms the sincerity of the emotion. Likewise, it’s refreshing not to have any bogus mea culpa about alcoholic behaviour in “The Drinking Song”, an unregenerate boozer’s anthem celebrating former drunken exploits with no apology. 

But there’s a point about midway through the album, following the folk-rock football anthem “We Can Win”, that Stewart’s plain-speaking charm slips into queasy patriotism with “Another Country” and “Way Back Home”. The former, a rousing evocation of a squaddie’s yearning for his wife and unborn child back in Blighty, leaves few musical clichés unturned, from bugle to bagpipes (or some skirling approximation thereof). 

It’s cheesy, albeit well-intentioned; but “Way Back Home” is irredeemably naff, full of pompous blather about “a nation with its back against the wall” and “that good old-fashioned British way, with a proud and thoughtless grace” – fine sentiments indeed, especially from a poolside lounger in Los Angeles. When he even has the gall to end the track with Churchill intoning his “fight them on the beaches” speech, you have to wonder: has ever an entertainer so shamelessly angled for a knighthood? Listen hard, and you can all but hear Elton chortling. 

Not that that is actually the worst track on the album. That dubious honour is reserved for “Batman Spiderman Superman”, a glutinous song to Rod’s son that perhaps ought best have been kept in the family. Sentimental songs about celebs’ children are always best avoided on a full stomach; but when, as here, they incorporate name-checking of Hollywood merchandise, the results are truly noxious. 

Given its sudden sharp downward turn, it’s hard to unreservedly recommend Another Country. But there are enough decent moments to justify a bit of iTunes cherry-picking, at least. With its winning keyboard melody and uplifting backing vocals, there’s a pleasingly Springsteen-esque, spirit-raising quality to the doughty “Walking in the Sunshine”. “Can We Stay Home Tonight?” and “A Friend for Life” are romantic soulmate songs that sensibly ignore the more transitory adolescent emotional flushes in favour of celebrating mature, long-term monogamous devotion. And “Please” is great, a slab of punchy Muscle Shoals-style funk with a great backbeat slap, punctuated by Stewart’s impressive upper-register squeal of the title. 

The track marches along with a brisk, focused assurance, as if plotted and planned for an assault on the American charts, and it confirms that when the chips are down, Rod can still deliver on his core business.

Album Review Rod Stewart- Another Country

Rod Stewart has been a prominent recording artist for over fifty years, and at age 70 he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. His iconic raspy voice is what gives his music life and is instantly recognisable, once being called “the best white soul singer” by ‘Godfather of Soul’, James Brown. His 2013 album Time was met with high critical acclaim and deeply loved by fans around the globe, now his 29th studio album Another Country follows it up and sees Stewart delve deeper into his songwriting abilities to deliver something personal and close to his heart

There are tracks that lift your spirit, particularly the reggae pumped Love And Be Loved and the energetic Walking In The Sunshine. Stewart’s voice is as strong as ever and there is nothing about it that seems to be dwindling, if you give Please a listen he demonstrates the control he still has over his impressive set of pipes. Title track Another Country adds sentimental value to the album with its folk influence and lyrics, it’s just a cosy and heartwarming number, while Batman Superman Spiderman gives listeners a peek at Rod Stewart the father, this sweet little tune is dedicated to his young son and it melts your heart.

As a collective Another Country reveals more about Rod Stewart than ever before, his intention with this album was to write it on a more personal perspective and he achieved this. There were tracks that you found quite relatable and others that you found intriguing, there is a good mix of folk/rock/pop to retain attention and interest. Rod Stewart may be getting older, but as he ages his music still seems to matures and this is what makes him a timeless songwriter.

- See more at: http://renownedforsound.com/index.php/album-review-rod-stewart-another-country/#sthash.DHJqmm5d.dpuf


Rod Stewart earns his first #1 hit with “Maggie May”

If living well is the best revenge, then Rod Stewart has long since avenged the critical barbs he’s suffered through the years. Still active in his fifth decade as a recording star, he can point to nearly three dozen pop hits and nearly 40 million albums sold as proof that he’s done something very right. Yet all of his commercial success wouldn’t silence those purists who believe that Rod Stewart wasted the greatest male voice in rock history by putting it to use in service of disco anthems and an endless string of generic adult-contemporary ballads. Whatever one’s opinion about Stewart’s musical choices few could deny the pure perfection of his performance on one of the greatest rock songs of all time, “Maggie May,” which became Rod Stewart’s first #1 hit on this day in 1971.

An international hit that topped the U.K. and U.S. pop charts simultaneously in the autumn of 1971, “Maggie May” was a last-minute addition to the album Every Picture Tells a Story and was originally released as the “B” side to the single “Reason To Believe.” Soon, however, radio programmers began flipping “Reason To Believe” in favor of “Maggie May,” the possibly autobiographical tale of a young man reflecting wistfully on the end of a love affair with an older woman. With its ringing acoustic guitar and mandolin arrangement, “Maggie May” reflected the full range of influences that had shaped a singer-songwriter then better known for the harder-edged music of the rock bands he’d fronted in the late 1960s and very early 1970s: the Faces and the Jeff Beck Group. But Rod Stewart had begun his path to stardom as an itinerant banjo- and harmonica-playing Bob Dylan devotee, and it was that folk sensibility that helped make “Maggie May” such a standout hit.

“Maggie May” and Every Picture Tells a Story launched Rod Stewart’s spectacular solo career—a career that has included 33 subsequent top-40 hits on the American pop chart, including two subsequent #1s in “Tonight’s The Night (Gonna Be Alright)” (1977), “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” (1979). Rod Stewart’s detractors may believe that they also marked a creative high point in a career that has seen more success among record-buyers and concert-goers than among rock critics, yet those record-buyers and concert-goers continue to support a singer who has even managed to reinvent himself successfully as a crooner of jazz standards in his fifth decade as a major pop star.

Cultural Toolbox - Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story

Shane Coleman and Colm O'Hare got something to say to you about the hit 1971 album...

With John Fardy away this week, Hot Press journalist Colm O'Hare joined Shane for an 'interesting' (Shane's choice of word) choice for this week's Cultural Toolbox. The album in question is Rod Stewart's critical and commercially successful third album, 1971's Every Picture Tells a Story.

Click link to listen

Colm started by discussing the 'mixed critical reception' that Stewart has faced in recent years. "Nick Horny said... 'being a Rod Stewart fan in the 70s didn't make you the coolest kid in the class - but it was nothing to be ashamed of'. That wouldn't have been the case much, much later... but back then he was highly thought of by a lot of people".

Colm mentioned that before Rod's solo career, he was knocking around as a jobbing musician, and this album brought together a lot of different influences.

Shane agreed, pointing out "it's very difficult to define this album - there's blues, there's folk, there's rock. It's a bit of everything".

What makes Every Picture Tells a Story such a memorable album, aside from iconic singles like Maggie May? Colm argued, "it's a great sounding album - that's the thing about albums from those days, each studio had a distinctive sound. There's lots of acoustic stuff on it - there are mandolins, there are fiddles. There's folk, there's rock and there's a bit of soul.

"It has a kind of an atmosphere, kind of a devil may care attitude," he added, explaining how Rod's band used to have a bar on stage.

Colm also suggested that Rod Stewart is "a serious muso. He was very good at picking good songs. He could write a little bit, but he was smart enough to know he wasn't prolific enough to come up [with more]". Rod wrote the song Mandolin Wind on this album, which Colm called a 'lovely song... a pastoral, kind of folky song.' 

Rod Stewart might not always enjoy the most generous response in 2015, but Every Picture... remains a mainstay on 'greatest album of all time' lists. And as Colm said, "he's very, very hard to dislike. He puts on great shows. The last time I saw him in the RDS in 2007 he put on two nights in a row. It was just terrific... he's more influential than people would like to admit".

Something Else. By S.Victor Arron.10/05/2015

Before he hooked up with Clive Davis to transform himself into a dubious version of Tony Bennett — many, many years before — Rod Stewart was a seriously good rock singer. I don’t mean to imply that his raspy pipes are now shot to hell, or anything like that. I mean the material he covered, the style of his music and his attitude made Rod Stewart a force to be reckoned with back then.

For proof, we head to the second of his holy trinity of classic albums, Every Picture Tells a Story, released in May 1971 after Gasoline Alley and before Never A Dull Moment. This is the record that contained his signature hit “Maggie Mae” and the fine English folk album cut “Mandolin Wind.” It also commences with one whale of a rocker with a song by the same name as the album.

Anyone only vaguely familiar with classic rock might think I’m only stating the painfully obvious up to this point, but I’m painfully reminded of that lost glory when my playlist touches on most any pre-1977 selection of Rod Stewart’s. He was on one helluva roll for a time, and the one selection that to me stands in the most direct contrast to what became of his music is “Every Picture Tells a Story.”

An original Rod co-write with his Faces cohort at the time, the brunette look-alike Ron Wood, this track epitomizes that period’s footloose outlook, as Stewart takes the role of a young man looking for cheap thrills around the globe — until, that is, he arrives in China and falls in love. There are some of-its-moment racism and sexism here, but you’re struck more often (with lines like “my body stunk but I kept my funk” and “she took me up on deck and bit my neck; oh people, I was glad I found her”) by Rod Stewart’s carefree humor.

“Every Picture Tells a Story” is a hard rocker, alright, but it rocks mostly acoustically. Ron Wood supplies electric bass and a few well-placed electric guitar lines, but the track is driven by a maddening persistent barbaric beat and hard strumming acoustic guitars. Rod Stewart is obviously having a ball, ad libbing “woo” between just about every other line. There’s no chorus, just a string of verses that take listeners around the world and wondering how the story will end. The song sprints along, until a more reflective verse temporarily brings down the intensity as Stewart is joined by Maggie Bell’s soulful harmonies. Then, “Every Picture Tells a Story” picks up again for a concluding climax, where the moral of the story is revealed.

The result is one of those tunes that makes you nod your head, thinking: “Now this is what rock and roll is about!” Quite the opposite of where Rod Stewart, sadly, was headed.

Rod Stewart – Box Set of First Five Albums (1969-1974)

 Rhetta Akamatsu January 12, 2015

Rod Stewart has sold over 100 million records worldwide and has had 31 Top 10 hit songs in the U.K. with six consecutive bestselling albums. In the U.S., he has been equally loved for many years. In the early days he mixed folk, rock, and even country to create a sound that was absolutely unlike anyone else. His raspy voice stood out on the radio dials and his ability to convey emotion was unequaled by any other performer in the opinion of his countless fans.

Now his early LPs from 1969 until 1974 are available on 180 gram heavyweight audiophile vinyl, encased in a very attractive plaid slipcover.

The set contains the following albums:

An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down (1969)
Gasoline Alley (1970)
Every Picture Tells a Story (1971)
Never a Dull Moment (1972)
Smiler (1974)

I received CD copies of these albums to review to refresh my memory of just what treasures the box set offers.

An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down was Stewart’s first solo effort, released in 1969 in America as The Rod Stewart Album. Stewart was a member of The Faces at the time. Some of the musicians who play on this album are Keith Emerson, Jeff Beck Group drummer Mick Waller, and Ron Wood, who was also a member of The Faces then. They continued to be featured on the other albums as well. The standout numbers here are Stewart’s version of The Rolling Stones’ “Street Fighting Man” and “Handbags and Gladrags” (Mike D’Abo), which became a permanent part of his repertoire and which stills stands the test of time as a stirring, emotional number.

Gasoline Alley was the first album to get real critical attention in the States. It also features Ronnie Lane and Ian McLagan of The Faces. Once again, one of the standouts is a song that was also covered by The Rolling Stones, “It’s All Over Now” (originally written by Bobby and Shirley Womack). He proves that he can handle country with “Country Comfort” (Elton John/Bernie Taupin) and “Cut Across Shorty” (Walker/Wilkin) as well as folk music with the tender rendering of “Only a Hobo.”

Every Picture Tells a Story brought Stewart his first American hit with “Maggie May,” which was everywhere in 1971. This is the album that established Stewart as a storyteller and the first album where everything fit together perfectly. Every song here is a highlight, but the version of “Reason to Believe” (Tim Hardin) is on this reviewer’s list of Top 10 songs ever.

Never a Dull Moment was a strong follow-up with two hits, “You Wear It Well” and “Twistin’ the Night Away” (Sam Cooke). Aside from those wonderful songs, the strongest numbers are “True Blue,” the Bob Dylan cover “Mama You Been on My Mind,” the amazing version of “I’d Rather Go Blind” (Foster/Jordan) and the deeply touching “Angel,” a tribute to its author, Jimi Hendrix.

The last album in the set, Smiler, was panned by critics, although it still sold one million copies. The critics said that this had all been done by Stewart before, with covers of Chuck Berry, Dylan and Cooke tunes. They absolutely hated his remake of Carole King’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” with the gender turned to “Man.” Admittedly nobody could touch Aretha Franklin’s version of that song and it does not really work with the gender switch, although Stewart sings it remarkably well. But as a whole, listening to this album now, it sounds great. Who cares if he had done covers like these before when he does them so well? “Sweet Little Rock ‘n Roller,” and “Bring It on Home to Me”/”You Send Me” are brilliant. The solo with Elton John on John’s “Let Me Be Your Car” just tears from the speakers. “Dixie Toot” has fantastic horns and a great New Orleans vibe. Stewart and his band sound like they are having a great time, not only here but throughout the album.

The arrangement of the music for Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country” is strange and somewhat discordant but the vocal is so good it almost makes up for that. The song is perfectly suited to Stewart’s rasp. And the almost unknown “Mine for Me,” written by Paul and Linda McCartney, makes a sweet ending for the whole project.

Together, these five albums will remind all of Stewart’s many decades-long fans why they love him so much, and for those who do not know the material, they should be a revelation. The box set is a must-have for any admirer of the singer.

Rod Stewart: Just a Singer in a Rock and Roll Band…

Rod Stewart’s autobiography shows that knowing too much about cultural heroes might be part of what’s wrong with the culture…

There have been a spate of rock star autobiographies over the last decade or so from classic rock’s legends. One assumes that after having so much written about them that was true/untrue/somewhere in between they wanted to have their say.

Pete Townshend, Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton – all have written interesting, if at times slightly self-indulgent, biographies of themselves (how self-written these “autobiographies” are is probably arguable from a strictly literary standpoint). From these we learn that Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend had troubled childhoods and that each has been long engaged in the “search for self” because of childhood trauma. We also learn that Bob Dylan and Keith Richards are never, ever, ever, ever going to give anything away that might break the front or dispel any of the mystique they have long worked at building around themselves. If they can do so, they will die in a way so that we will exclaim “That is so cool!”

And then there’s Rod.

Rod: The Autobiography is 380 pages long including the discography. For the most critical readers – those rock music connoisseurs who condemn Rod for his twin sins of “breaking up The Faces”(which isn’t true, Keith Richards broke up The Faces so that he could get Ron Wood into The Rolling Stones) and of leaving both England and his greatest artistic period, the early solo albums, behind and becoming rock’s greatest lounge singer – the last 200+ pages will be a trying experience of trying to keep the various beautiful blondes sorted out all while lamenting how Rod Stewart prostituted his great talent to Mammon and mammaries.

That’s not the experience one should have. I have been as critical as any serious student of rock (and I have been on both sides of the fence as both musician and as commentator) of Rod’s seeming squandering of his talent as a singer for the sake of popularity. But after reading Rod’s explanations (and, to be sure, excuses), I am inclined to forgive him. Before those of you who find him permanently unforgivable go apoplectic, allow me to explain.

One characteristic that makes Rod: The Autobiography an enjoyable read is Rod’s wonderfully self-deprecating self-assessments. He freely admits, for example, that he never got further than a try out with a low level English soccer team (one of the myths that has long surrounded Stewart is that he could have been a top footballer had he not become a major rock star). His love for the game (and the strong bond that love forged between him and his father and brothers and that he now shares with his sons) is clearly genuine and endearing. In fact, one of the strongest messages in Rod is that of the importance of family to the man – and for a guy with as many wives, ex-wives and children – both in and out of wedlock – as Rod Stewart has, he shows remarkable love and affection for them all. One can’t help but think of Rod The Mod as a better exponent of “family values” than many who proclaim their support of that ever more amorphous commodity. He’s equally self-ridiculing of his love of silly clothes, his fastidiousness about his hair, and his fascination with all creatures long-legged and blonde. If ever tone helped a writer, it helps Rod Stewart. The most bittersweet, touching chapter in the entire book is about his time with The Faces – the excess, the egos, the joys, the disappointments, the collapse of the group and its ultimate validation: induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In as good an example of what we might call “the Stewart style” of storytelling, he ends the chapter with this anecdote about his mother to sum up his involvement in one of rock’s most influential bands:

Still, I’m mindful of the last days before my dear old mum died in 1991, aged eighty-five, when i would go to see her and sometimes find her sleeping. The confusion was most certainly upon her in those last few years, and very often she would wake up and say, ‘Oh. hello, Roddy. How are the Faces doing?’

They’re doing fine, Mum.

The other, perhaps less flattering to Rod Stewart, characteristic of Rod: The Autobiography that makes it a worthwhile read for both casual and serious music fans alike is how revelatory it is of a rich rock star’s alternating acute self-awareness and acute lack of self-awareness. When Rod talks about his work – and his lack of self-confidence concerning his early solo work, the work that made his artistic reputation – he is keenly self-aware that he is not and never has been a good judge of his own achievement, especially so when he has just completed an album. In his personal life he is keenly aware that he was a prodigious – and often self-destructive – philanderer and that he has cost himself some relationships that might have been extraordinary with his caddish behavior. But within a few sentences Rod may digress (and a charming feature of this book is that Rod offers numerous chapters called “Digressions” wherein he addresses such weighty matters as his deep love for soccer, his trademark spiky hairstyle, and his affection for flashy sports cars, particularly Lamborghinis) and talk about how madly in love he was with this or that 20 year old tall, blonde underwear model who’d caught his eye or about how he spends too much money chartering private jets to fly him to soccer games.

I’d like to say that this alternating insight/lack thereof makes Rod a complicated guy. That would explain, at least, some of the self-revelatory self-indulgence of this book.

It does not.

Rod Stewart may be a lot of things, but a complicated guy he isn’t. He’s relatively binary – he loves his family, fast cars, beautiful blondes, and being a rich rock star. He dislikes England’s national team (soccer, of course), a couple of former staffers who betrayed his trust, the paparazzi, and the idea of being poor. Certainly he has ambivalence – he worries that he wasn’t a good enough father to his older children (with reason). But he is about equally ambivalent about what “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” did to his legacy as a rock singer. He knows he can’t write great material with any frequency any more. But he’s inordinately proud about how well his Great American Songbook series of albums sold (over 20 million units). And he waffles between thoughts of retirement and plans for going on until he simply can’t anymore.

What Rod: The Autobiography reveals is that, to paraphrase a line from contemporaries of his, he’s just a singer in a rock and roll band.

And he’s okay with that. So I suppose we must be okay with that, too.


Music Review: Long John Baldry – ‘The Best of the Stony Plain Years’

  Wesley Britton June 11, 2014


In 1971, Rod Stewart and Elton John each produced one side of Long John Baldry’s It Ain’t Easy, the album designed to make John William Baldry better known in the states. The album was long overdue. After all, Baldry was already an established legend in the U.K. For example, along with Alexis Korner—who shared a similar growling, graveling vocal style—Baldry appeared on R&B from the Marquee, the first ever amplified British blues album in 1962. The band was Blues Incorporated, a loose ensemble of revolving blues enthusiasts also including the likes of Mick Jagger, Jack Bruce, and Charlie Watts.

Then, in 1964, Baldry formed Long John Baldry and his Hoochie Coochie Men, later named Steampacket, which featured an up-and-comer by the name of Rod Stewart. In 1966, Baldry formed Bluesology with a piano player called Reg Dwight. Dwight, of course, later adopted the stage name Elton John, the “John” taken from Baldry. It was Baldry’s intervention in John’s personal life that inspired the 1975 song, “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.”

In the late ’70s, Baldry emigrated to Vancouver, Canada, and began a long career there in both music and voice acting. After working with other labels, from 1991 to his death in 2005, Baldry recorded for Stony Plain Records, and it’s that era which is captured on the new The Best of the Stony Plain Years.

The good news is that the quality of the selections on The Best of the Stony Plain Years is top-notch from start to finish. By this point in his career, Baldry’s singing was honed to deep-bucket perfection with almost theatrical enunciations, perhaps an outgrowth of his audio acting. He swings so much, more than once there are obvious echoes of Louis Prima and Satchmo. Baldry’s guitar playing, especially on the 12-string, had become more precise and clean. Never a slouch as a bandleader, the various small ensembles he led from 1991 on provided rock solid support for the material. The bad news is that Stony Plain was far from generous with this package, giving us a mere 11 tracks on a single disc. That’s a skimpy representation of Baldry’s seven albums for the label.

Produced by Tom Lavin (Powder Blues), It Still Ain’t Easy (1991) was Baldry’s debut on Stony Plain, here represented by “Midnight in New Orleans” featuring longtime Baldry guitarist Papa John King and Butch Coulter on acoustic guitar and harmonica. We also get Willie Dixon’s scorching “Insane Asylum” which is one of many numbers produced over two decades that showcased Baldry with the belting voice of former Ikette (of Ike and Tina Turner) and latter-day member of Big Brother and the Holding Company, Kathi McDonald.

Deservedly, we get several choice cuts from Remembering Leadbelly (2001) like the upbeat opener, “Good Morning Blues,” the New Orleans-flavored “Midnight Special,” and a countrified “Gallows Pole,” the same song Led Zeppelin covered in 1970. (Don’t let the archival passage from an old Baldry tape fool you on “Good Morning Blues”—wait a verse, then the song kicks out the jams.) We also get three songs from Right to Sing the Blues (1997), namely the jazzy, percussive “I’m Shaking,” the very Louis Armstrong-inspired “Easy Street,” and the slow, low-down “Midnight Hour Blues.”

Albums not represented include Long John Baldry-On Stage Tonight (1993), Baldry’s first live album, his second being Live (2000), both recorded at gigs in Hamburg, Germany. Fans of Baldry will no doubt note the omission of “Don’t Try to Lay No Boogie Woogie on the King of Rock n’ Roll,” Baldry’s signature song captured quite nicely on On Stage Tonight.

If you already own all the Stony Plain releases, there are several new songs to add to your collection. In particular, the closing number is a duet recorded live with Jimmy Witherspoon, “Time’s Gettin’ Tougher Than Tough” (1995), supported by the Duke Robillard band. Likewise, “Dimples” is a previously unreleased 1998 taste of John Lee Hooker from the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. While the folk song “Black Girl” (also featuring McDonald) is listed as appearing on Rock with the Best (1996), liner notes say the version used here was from a promo sampler issued the same year. Perhaps there were two takes from the same session?

In the end, The Best of the Stony Plain Years is itself a good promo sampler that’s ideal for introducing new listeners to Baldry or jump-starting interest for listeners who’ve not been paying attention since It Ain’t Easy (reissued by Stoney Plain in 2012). Down the road, perhaps, Stony Plain will issue an expanded, two-disc anthology that will really be a “best of.” ‘Till then, this release is mainly a very tasty hors d’oeuvre to whet our appetites.

Album Review: Rod Stewart's Tonight's the Night: Live 1976-1998


The Morton Report
Jeff Burger, Contributor


Nearly a quarter century has passed since Warner Brothers issued the excellent Storyteller, which covers all the bases of Rod Stewart’s career up to 1990 but features only a few previously unreleased goodies. Finally, though, the record company has unlocked the vaults and swung the doors wide open. In 2009 it delivered the revealing Rod Stewart Sessions, a four-CD box that contains 63 previously unavailable outtakes, demos and other rarities recorded between 1971 and 1998. And this month brings what feels like a companion box: another four discs from roughly the same period (1976-1998), containing 58 more previously unissued performances, all of which were recorded in concert.

While the sound quality is good throughout, it’s generally not quite on a par with today’s state of the art, which is understandable given that some of this material is more than 30 years old. As Stewart fans well know, moreover, his career has taken all sorts of twists and turns, not all of them well-advised, and you’ll find some evidence of that on any collection of his work that spans more than two decades. That said, this nearly five-hour-long collection features more than enough winning performances to make it a must-buy item for any serious fan.

The program opens with 15 tracks—including spirited versions of some of Stewart’s best and best-known songs—culled from three December 1976 UK concerts. Among them: a nearly nine-minute version of “Maggie May,” his first number-one hit, from 1971; "I Know I’m Losing You,” the Motown chestnut that he originally recorded with Faces that same year; 1972’s terrific “You Wear It Well”; and “Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright),” which topped the charts around the time of the performance preserved here. (It’s worth noting that Stewart, whose songwriting often garners less attention than it deserves, wrote or co-wrote three of these four songs.)

Then we jump the pond and a few years for six tracks from a 1979 L.A. concert. Among the best of them are two medleys, one blending a trio of Motown and R&B standards with a mostly instrumental excerpt from “Layla,” the other segueing from Sam Cooke’s “Twistin’ the Night Away” to a snippet of Stewart’s own “Every Picture Tells a Story.” (The latter also appears here in an excellent standalone version from 1989.)

The late '70s and '80s found Stewart floundering at times, as you can hear in such disco-influenced pablum as the 1977 hit “Hot Legs” (here in a 1981 duet with Tina Turner), “Infatuation,” “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” and “Passion.” But we also get a cover of Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart” that’s good enough to start you thinking about how other Bruce tracks might sound in Stewart covers; a sweet reading of Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay”; the self-penned “You’re In My Heart (The Final Acclaim),” a memorable 1977 hit; and a terrific, hard-rocking version of “Lost in You,” expanded to more than eight minutes to make room for an instrumental section and mid-song monologue.

There are some strong entries from the '90s as well, most of them from a pair of concerts in London and L.A. Stewart delivers an emotive version of one of his best covers ever, Tom Waits’s brilliant “Downtown Train,” and reprises such early favorites as “Cut Across Shorty,” “Mandolin Wind” and “Handbags and Gladrags.” We also hear another medley (“Twistin’ the Night Away” again, this time paired with another Cooke classic, ”Chain Gang”) and more soul, including Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” and Arthur Conley’s “Sweet Soul Music.”

Stewart has long been a skillful genre-hopper, and he certainly demonstrates that here. He also lives up to his reputation as a great interpreter. Moreover, he is a fully engaged, inventive concert performer who rarely seems content to simply serve up the hits. Throughout this collection, he offers new, frequently expanded versions, many of which find him turning the spotlight on his first-rate bands for extended but never overly long jams. If you’re a fan, this package won’t disappoint. If you’re not, it may just turn you into one.

Rod Stewart, “Handbags and Gladrags



Written by January 27th, 2014 at 7:00 am

An exceptional song tends to have a shelf life that far outlives its original rendering. Consider the example of the beautiful ballad “Handbags and Gladrags.”

Written in 1967, its first incarnation was as a single by British belter Chris Farlowe, who had a modest success with it in his native country. Its biggest chart success came when Stereophonics turned it into a Top 10 UK hit after releasing it as a single in 2001. Earlier that same year, the song gained perhaps its biggest exposure when it was used as the music for the opening and closing credits for The Office, which would become one of the most critically-acclaimed television comedies ever to come out of Great Britain, eventually spawning a long-running U.S. hit show.

All of those takes are fine, but the definitive version of the song came from Rod Stewart, who included it on his 1969 debut album An Old Raincoat Will Never Let You Down (known in the US as The Rod Stewart Album.) Stewart badgered songwriter Mike D’Abo, who wrote the song while he was the frontman for Manfred Mann in ’67, for the chance to record the track, and D’Abo relented once Stewart scored an album deal.

The pair also worked on the woodwind and string arrangements that would lend Stewart’s track that extra bit of pomp and drama. Rod The Mod did the rest, singing with the kind of passion and abandon that he brought to his bluesier material while still making sure to honor D’Abo’s lilting melody in the process.

In a 2003 interview with Britain’s The Sunday Express, D’Abo, who also co-wrote The Foundations’ classic “Build Me Up Buttercup,” explained that “Handbags and Gladrags” was meant to suggest that fashion and style weren’t everything, a message that certainly bucked the trend in youth culture at the time. “I knew it was a social comment,” he said. “The moral of the song is saying to a teenage girl that the way to happiness is not being trendy. There are deeper values.”

D’Abo’s lyrics imply that fashion’s fickle nature can leave anyone relying on it for their well-being in a world of hurt. “But once you think you’re in you’re out,” Stewart sings, “’Cause you don’t mean a single thing without/The handbags and the gladrags that your granddad had to sweat so you could buy.”

Stewart plays the role of caring friend throughout, finally urging the girl to get her priorities straight and leave behind the stylish trappings before it’s too late: “They told me you missed school today/So I suggest you just throw them all away.” Styles may change and trends may come and go, but it’s a safe bet that “Handbags and Gladrags,” as delicately authored by Mike D’Abo and powerfully sung by Rod Stewart, won’t ever go out of fashion.


Read the lyrics


Ever seen a blind man cross the road
Trying to make the other side?
Ever seen a young girl growing old
Trying to make herself a bride?

So what becomes of you my love?
When they have finally stripped you of
The handbags and the gladrags
That your granddad had to sweat so you could buy, baby

Once I was a young man
And all I thought I had to do was smile
You are still a young girl
And you bought everything in style, listen

But once you think you're in, you're out
'Cause you don't mean a single thing without
The handbags and the gladrags
That your granddad had to sweat so you could buy

Sing a song of six-pence for your sake
And take a bottle full of rye
Four and twenty blackbirds in a cake
And bake them all in a pie

They told me you missed school today
So what I suggest, you just throw them all away
The handbags and the gladrags
That your poor old granddad had to sweat to buy

They told me you missed school today
So I suggest you just throw them all away
The handbags and the gladrags
That your poor old granddad had to sweat to buy ya

Bye, bye

Rod Stewart - Merry Christmas Baby CD/DVD.

Only at Target



1. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

2. Santa Clause Is Coming To Town
3. Winter Wonderland (Duet with Michael Buble)
4. White Christmas
5. Merry Christmas Baby (Duet with Cee Lo Green)
6. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow
7. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? (Duet with Ella Fitzgerald)
8. Blue Christmas
9. Red-Suited Super Man
10. When You Wish Upon A Star
11. We Three Kings (Duet with Mary J. Blige)
12. Silent Night
13. Auld Lang Syne
14. What Child Is This | Target Exclusive Track
15. The Christmas Song | Target Exclusive Track
16. Silver Bells | Target Exclusive Track

DVD:19Let It Snow!, Let It Snow!, Let It Snow! (Featuring Dave Koz)20We Three Kings (Duet with Mary J. Blige)21 Auld Lang Syne22Silent Night23What Child Is This


  • 3 exclusive studio tracks and 5 video tracks on a DVD.

  • Genre: Holiday

  • Release Date: October 15, 2013


Rod: The Autobiography (Paperback)


"Ridiculously funny and astonishingly candid, Rod Stewart's memoir is the rock autobiography of the decade". ("Daily Mail"). "One of the most entertaining, revealing, captivating books of the year". ("Independent"). Rod Stewart was born the working-class son of a Scottish plumber in North London. Despite some early close shaves with a number of diverse career paths, ranging from gravedigging to professional football, it was music that truly captured his heart - and he never looked back. Rod started out in the early 1960s, playing the clubs on London's R&B scene, before his distinctively raspy voice caught the ear of the iconic front man Long John Baldry, who approached him while busking one night on a railway platform. Stints with pioneering acts like the Hoochie Coochie Men, Steampacket, and the Jeff Beck Group soon followed, paving the way into a raucous five years with the Faces, the rock star's rock band, whose offstage antics with alcohol, wrecked hotel rooms and groupies have become the stuff of legend. And during all this, he found a spare moment to write 'Maggie May', among a few others, and launch a solo career that has seen him sell an estimated 200 million records, be inducted into the Hall of Fame twice, and play the world's largest ever concert. Not bad, as he says, for a guy with a frog in his throat. And then, there is his not-so-private life: marriages, divorces and affairs with some of the world's most beautiful women - Bond girls, movie stars and supermodels - and a brush with cancer which very nearly saw it all slip away. Rod's is an incredible life, and here, thrillingly and for the first time, he tells the whole thing, leaving no knickers under the bed. A rollicking rock 'n' roll adventure that is at times deeply moving, this is the remarkable journey of a guy with one hell of a voice - and one hell of a head of hair.



Rod Stewart’s Autobiography



Perhaps that’s hard to believe. Mr. Stewart, 67, used to be the kind of guy who never met a hotel room he couldn’t savage, whose idea of a plane flight was not complete without mustard on the walls of the first-class cabin and whose favorite stories are about models, be they the four-wheeled or the Sports Illustrated swimsuit-wearing kind. In these pages he asks, and answers, some uncommonly character-revealing questions, including, “What would it be like if I wrapped myself entirely in cling film?” The answer: “You will look like a packet of uncooked chicken breast, but it will feel quite cozy.”

Mr. Stewart’s antics have earned him a richly deserved Jack the Lad reputation. But that doesn’t mean they’re rich enough to support a good book. It’s his storytelling style, which mixes wild boastfulness with barely credible self-deprecation, that proves so winning, if only because he is so willing to embarrass himself. In unquotably colorful language he promised the press he had met his ultimate match in Rachel Hunter, the model he had first seen in an ad for “body-sculpting” when she was, he says, 20 to his 45. Wrong again. Ms. Hunter was not the last tall, doe-eyed blond model he would marry.

Mr. Stewart seems to have done some collaborating with Giles Smith, the British journalist whose credits include a book called “Midnight in the Garden of Evel Knievel.” Whatever: the connection has worked well, and the book’s voice sounds entirely like Mr. Stewart’s. His familiar sense of humor kicks in immediately, as he describes early experiences like working for a wallpaper company and (this explains a lot) living above a candy store. “You learn a lot about yourself doing physical work,” he says about the former. “And what I learned about myself was that I didn’t like doing physical work.” His most demanding labor from that point on has involved use of a hair dryer.

Though he went through a brief phase as a leftist reader of The Daily Worker, Mr. Stewart quickly evolved into a rooster-headed dandy. “Oi! Get off me bouff” was a common Cockney cry about protecting that bouffant do, and it didn’t take long for him to start working as a singer. “It’s often said that a band is like a family,” he writes, “and that may well be true, depending on how often your family is tired and drunk.” When he worked for a sour-sounding Jeff Beck in the latter’s eponymous group, Mr. Beck rebutted the suggestion that he was too good a guitarist to play with such a campy singer, telling an interviewer: “He’s not camp. Campish, maybe.”

Turns out that was a bit of an understatement. Mr. Stewart developed a taste for spandex, earned the nickname Phyllis (to Elton John’s Sharon, and this book tells highly amusing tales about their friendship) and learned to wear so much makeup that “I looked a complete tart.” As for the performing style that grew out of this flash, Mr. Stewart says, “Carrying 200 pounds of velvet and satin around a stage for 90 minutes — that’s man’s work, let me tell you.” As for the music itself, which “Rod” often reminds its readers to repurchase and revisit: “Set lists were for wimps. Wimps and professionals.”

Mr. Stewart’s sales figures — and the cars, real estate and beautiful women that came with them — do not go unmentioned here. For instance he has become an art collector, specializing in “Pre-Raphs,” and counts his paintings when he wants to fall asleep. Yet there is sadness too: “You can be with one of the most beautiful women in the world and still be unhappy,” he says about Britt Ekland, while being sure to mention that she was a Bond girl. Of another painful moment he says: “At this point I was technically two-timing a Playboy model with another Playboy model.” Boo hoo?

Mr. Stewart laments his “terrible problem with finality” — that is, his propensity for getting caught by tabloids two-timing his last conquest with his next. He seems to have watched more than his share of women pack up and leave, since this is his preferred method of separation. He is now, he says, living happily ever after in his fairy-tale marriage to the model and photographer Penny Lancaster. And in a book where every picture indeed tells a story he can be seen surrounded by the uncommonly good-looking children and grandchildren that his roving eye has brought him. He has a son old enough to tell him that a pale blue Lamborghini is “so ‘Miami Vice.’ ”

“Rod” isn’t often about music, but it includes occasional revealing remarks about his most famous records. The inspiration for the song “Maggie May” (“the loss of my virginity in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it encounter with an older woman” in 1961) is duly noted. So is his echo of Jeff Beck’s words when he writes about “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” as “a pink toilet seat hung around my neck for the rest of my life.” So is the way he takes pride of the echoes of his Scottish heritage in “Rhythm of My Heart,” and so is the fact that another anthemic song, “Sailing,” had to be recorded when its singer was uncharacteristically sober. Debauchery notwithstanding, he has been skittish around any substance that might hurt his voice. And his brush with thyroid cancer in 2000, which could have changed the voice and cost him his hairdo, was a doubly frightening brush with mortality.

Mr. Stewart concludes by saying that he lost his ability to write songs; that he had recently regained it; and that you really ought to buy his new album when it comes out next year. Given the caliber of the pitchmanship on display throughout this book, maybe you will.

Rod: The Autobiography by Rod Stewart – review



The Guardian,Wednesday 7 November 2012


He's a strange figure, Rod Stewart: wildly successful but, despite having been in the Faces and the Jeff Beck Group, never quite cool. He doesn't feel central to the world of rock and pop – or at least never has in my lifetime – but he has sold a staggering number of records. Did you know that in its first 24 hours MTV played 16 of his videos? Or that the act that kept the Sex Pistols off the number one slot in the jubilee year was Stewart? Or that he held the Guinness world record for the biggest audience – 3.5 million on Copacabana Beach? It's all here.


On paper he's the perfect rock star. His enthusiasms are fast cars, ridiculous clothes, oafish practical jokes, sex with models, private jets, drugs and alcohol, football. Counting against him, perhaps, is that he's sensible with his money, seems to be completely demon-free, gargled and snorted without ever succumbing to addiction, and has remained on good terms with his exes and various children by same (as well as with his eldest daughter, given up for adoption at birth and reunited with him as an adult). Also, he's not afraid to admit that his great recreational passion is building model railways: "It's not really about the trains […] there is no wearing of peaked caps, waving of flags or blowing of whistles. Furthermore, anyone found in the vicinity of the layout making train noises will find themselves forcibly ejected ..."

All this is amiably and self-knowingly told. The best rock star memoirs steer clear of nonsense about personal journeys, formulaic expressions of regret over drug use and sexual highjinks, or emetic tributes to the love that saved their lives. We don't want to hear about the anguish: we want somewhere for fantasy to flourish. The spirit should be: "How sad and bad and mad it was – / But then, how it was sweet!"

Alex James from Blur – before he became galactically tedious about cheese – wrote a really charming, daffy example of the genre. Mark Manning's Fucked By Rock: The Unspeakable Confessions of Zodiac Mindwarp, is even better than its title suggests thanks to a strong kinship in style if not in subject matter with PG Wodehouse. This one – while not quite in the mould of either – does clatter off to a good start. It also – excellent in such a book – has a comprehensive index: "Lumley, Joanna 177-9"; "nuclear weapons 28,29"; "oral sex: Rod advised against 58; untrue stories of 232" and so on. ("Untrue stories of", by the way, refers to the old tale of his being admitted to a West Coast emergency room to have a pint and a half of semen pumped out of his stomach. He denies it.)

I don't know whether Stewart wrote all of Rod himself but if he did he deserves respect and if he didn't I hope his ghost – rumoured to be journalist Giles Smith – is getting a decent slice of the action. The writing is a cut above workmanlike, the tone pitched right and the jokes good. Each chapter is given a whimsical 18th-century-style subheading, beginning with the dry: "In which our hero is born, just over six years of global conflict ending shortly thereafter ..."

Sprinkled hither and yon are Digressions on various pet subjects. The first one is on the subject of his hair, and it's splendid. He's had the same hairstyle for 45 years ("It's what I have in common with the Queen"). He paints a delightful portrait of early days: he and Ron Wood spending hours tenderly arranging each-other's barnets; or standing on the platform at Archway tube desperately trying to protect his bouffant from the pressure wave of the arriving train.

The heart of the book is in the opening 100 or so pages: the fierce excitement of young manhood and the crossing-over from fandom to performance; the exhilaration of American folk, blues and soul; the buzz of that germinal Stones/Who/Yardbirds/Faces/Jeff Beck Group scene. All are well caught. He writes articulately about music: where a drummer sits on the beat, or what makes a song bombproof. It's the work of someone who really knows his craft, and loves it. He's touching, too, about his relationship with his mentor Long John Baldry, who discovered him on a train platform blowing a mouth organ and instantly signed him up as a backing singer.

In the high years of fame the air slightly goes out of the tyres. Names are dropped (Freddie Mercury was "a sweet and funny man"), sales figures itemised, tales of circumnavigating the world by private jet to catch football games retailed, and collection of "Pre-Raphs" boasted of (he counts them to help him sleep and normally nods off by around 130). He never quite recaptures the brio of part one: the son of a North London plumber on the rocket-launch to stardom.

Still, there's plenty of sex. Blonde on blonde! At one point he swanks about cheating on one Playboy model with another Playboy model; at another, about sneaking out for a first date with Kelly Emberg while still married to his first wife, then leaving that date (smitten, he tells us) to climb into bed with his mistress.

What is his secret? "Hello darlin' – what you got in that handbag?" is the chat-up line he swears by, apparently. During his relationship with Britt Ekland (she called him "Soddy" and he called her "Poopy", for reasons we are left to guess at) he sent her the following telegram in response to her request for a love-letter: "Tired of pulling me plonker. Please come home."

Romantic though such details are, you find yourself souring a little at quite how badly he behaved: ending long-term relationships by publicly and humiliatingly flaunting his infidelity. "Less than gentlemanly," he'll concede in hindsight, or – of cheating on his heavily pregnant wife Emberg with "another model" – "This, clearly, was the behaviour of an arsehole." Still, he's also kind of pleased with himself.

Rachel Hunter broke his heart. She was 21 when they met. They spent eight years together and she was the only woman to date he didn't betray: "I've put my last banana in the fruit bowl," he assured reporters. Sadly, that fruit bowl went off in search of fresher bananas. Now, he assures us, he has found the love of his life in his third wife Penny Lancaster. We must wish him well.

Rod's Rarities...


Collection Includes Previously Unreleased BBC Radio One Live Performances of “Maggie May” and “Country Comfort” with Faces. 24 Tracks Boast Alternate Versions, Singles, B-Sides, Studio Outtakes, Covers of The Who, Bob Dylan, Goffin/King, Cole Porter, Jimi Hendrix, Jerry Lee Lewis, Stealer’s Wheel, Brewer & Shipley and More. On Rarities,
which will be released September 09th, 2013 on Mercury/UMC, Stewart’s blend of
playful swagger and modest introspection provide a complementary contrast to the
raw, boozy rock ’n’ roll that he was recording in his parallel career as
frontman of the seminal U.K. quintet Faces.

The brand-new, two-CD, 24-track
Rarities, offers a comprehensive selection of alternate versions, non-LP
singles, B-sides, studio outtakes and BBC Radio One performances and covers of
songs by The Who (“Pinball Wizard”), Bob Dylan (“Girl from the North Country”),
Gerry Goffin and Carole King (“Oh! No Not My Baby,” the gender-bending “[You
Make Me Feel] Like a Natural Man” with Jerry Wexler), Jimi Hendrix (“Angel”),
Cole Porter (“Every Time We Say Goodbye”), Jerry Lee Lewis (“What Made Milwaukee
Famous [Has Made a Loser Out of Me]”), Brewer & Shipley (“Seems Like a Long
Time”) and Stealer’s Wheel (“You Put Something Better Inside of Me”).

The collection also spotlights alternative takes on such Stewart classics as “Maggie
May” and Elton John/Bernie Taupin’s “Country Comfort,” recorded with the Faces’’
guitarist Ron Wood, bassist Ronnie Lane, keyboardist Ian McLagan and drummer
Kenney Jones, live for BBC Radio One, both of which are previously unreleased.

Among the two-disc sets other highlights are re-workings of Gasoline Alley’s
Bobby Womack by way of Rolling Stones’ “It’s All Over Now,” in its leaner,
edited version released as a single, and two separate versions of Every Picture
Tells a Story’s #1 U.S./U.K. hit “Maggie May,” one an early rendition with
completely different, unfinished lyrics, the other a September 1971 performance
on BBC Radio One that is available for the first time on an official release.
Offering a peak into Stewart’s future successful series of albums extolling the
Great American Songbook is a cover of Cole Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye,”
as well as a version of Jerry Lee Lewis’ weepy, honky-tonk lament, “What Made
Milwaukee Famous [Has Made a Loser Out of Me]),” originally the non-LP B-side of
the single which featured Jimi Hendrix’s “Angel.”

Rarities also includes both sides of the 1973 single--credited to Rod Stewart and the Faces--featuring the Goffin/ King-penned Maxine Brown hit “Oh! No Not My Baby” and the Stewart/Wood/ McLagan collaboration “Jodie,” co-produced by Stewart and Wood, with Rod backed by Wood, McLagan and drummer Kenney Jones




for details.





The Marquee, Cork, Ireland

JUNE 20,21

Home Park Stadium, Plymouth


Cinch Stadium, Northants


Seat Unique Riverside, Durham


Badminton Estate, Worcester Park, Bristol


Sewell Group Craven Park, Hull


Edinburgh Castle

JULY 6,7










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