What does it sound like?:
I made the point in a recent piece that it’s hard to imagine nowadays that some artists, who are now such familiar household names, were once looked on as serious musicians, whose new albums were eagerly awaited by fans and critics alike. A prime example is Rod Stewart, a man whose commercial fortunes seemed to rise in inverse proportion to the quality of his albums. This set covers the fourteen alums he released between 1975 and 2001, thus sadly omitting his first five albums, which were by far his best, presumably for licensing reasons. Having said that, the first few of the albums collected here aren’t bad at all – a bit patchy, a bit too much filler, but with some good individual songs, well written and performed. Atlantic Crossing, probably still his best selling set (with the exception of the much later Great American Songbook releases) has Drift Away, I Don’t Want To Talk About It and Sailing for example, while subsequent efforts have You’re In My Heart, First Cut Is The Deepest and Tonight’s The Night among others. The problem is that for every good song like The Killing of Georgie, you get one (or more) like The Balltrap, so you could say quality control left something to be desired! During the next two decades, sporadic attempts were made to update his sound as fashions and tastes changed, with songs like Baby Jane and Young Turks, but for me the spark had long gone as disposable MOR albums insipidly followed one after another. Of course, Rod’s live appeal went from strength to strength, but primarily on the desire of audiences to hear the old stuff rather than the latest album. There was the occasional attempt to recreate the ‘Sailing’ feel with Every Beat Of My Heart and Rhythm Of my Heart, and even a stab at connecting with a younger audience with covers of Cigarettes and Alcohol and Rocks, which really added nothing to the definitive originals. By the end of the era covered by this box, Stewart seemed like a man out of time. A shame as his voice was still great, as borne out by his interpretation of songs by Dylan, Cooke and, in later years, Tom Waits and Curtis Mayfield.
What does it all *mean*?
The question before the jury is, did Rod trade his artistic integrity in pursuit of commercial success in the U.S. Compare the albums collected here with the likes of Gasoline Alley, An Old Raincoat, Every Picture and Never A Dull Moment and judge for yourselves.
Goes well with…
Pondering what might have been.
Might suit people who like…