Mike our illustrious Lebrain sent me this one, and it’s everything you’d expect. And more!*
Hot Legs starts us off with a great version, I loved the slide acoustic but the piano was the stand-out. Tonight’s The Night is next and, you know, I think I like this version better than the original. Nice and smooth. Lovely. I always love the double entendres in the lyrics but, um, Rod? “Virgin child?” Bad word choice, buddy.
Handbags And Gladrags is next, and my instincts were correct – this is indeed a cover tune (Mike d’Abo of Manfred Mann wrote it, Chris Farlowe covered it too). But for all that ten seconds Ispent on Wiki to learn that stuff, I’ve never actually liked this song too much. As a song it is sappy and just… tries too hard, or something. Still, this is an OK version, if you like this sort of thing.
And then Ronnie Wood joins the band. Hallelujah for Ronnie, I like that guy’s playing a lot. Cut Across Shorty (made famous by Eddie Cochran) is a fun, rockin’ version. Every Picture Tells A Story follows perfectly. Loved the super-fast ending. Go go go!
Maggie May is next and, well, it had to happen. The song suits this format very well. Tim Hardin’s Reason To Believe has a funny enough lead-in banter (“… me wife was only one…”) and it’s a very pretty version. The violin makes it. Then the band launches into Curtis Mayfield’s People Get Ready, which gets a string treatment. A solid rendition.
Keeping up the slew of covers, next it’s Van Morrison’s Have I Told You Lately, for which he turns in a creditable version. Then it’s Tom Traubert’s Blues (Waltzing Matilda), which is (of course) a Tom Waits tune. It’s decent, but I still prefer Tom. He’s grittier, more believable. And ending the run of covers is Cat Stevens’ The First Cut Is The Deepest, which is a song I have always disliked, no matter who does it (I’m looking at you, Sheryl Caterwaul, er, Crow). This is a nice enough version, I guess.
Mandolin Wind is next, finally one of his own tunes again. It’s good, has a nice simple arrangement. Highgate Shuffle is pleasingly bluesy. Stay With Me is a solid version, has a nice shuffle to it. And finally it’s Sam Cooke’s Havin’ A Party, which has that lovely Motown sound. Great track.
In sum: this is what you’d expect it to be, and it’s competently done. It’s mostly excellent. And you’d like more of it than I did – you likely disagree on tracks I dislike. Fair play to you. But whatever, the songs that nail it, here, make the whole thing very, very worthwhile.
Thanks heaps, Mike!
* Ronnie Wood is here. Therefore, excellence!
Another recent vinyl score, I have to admit I wasn’t sure I wanted to listen to it right away. I knew I was gonna want it in the collection (I have a whole whack of them already, so why not fill in the blanks?), but did I want to play it right now? Well… Aw screw it, I threw it on.
It’s a typical Rod record. Meaning, there are the hit songs (Forever Young and My Heart Can’t Tell Me No). There are the other songs you know (Lost In You, Crazy About Her). There are the old cover tunes (the funk rock almost-unrecognizable Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out, and Try A Little Tenderness). There are songs where it seems obvious he’s coasting a bit (The Wild Horse, When I Was Your Man). But in general, he does a fairly good job, he sounds like only Rod Stewart sounds, and his band is rock steady behind him. In other words – it’s a Rod Stewart solo album. This time, it just happens to be from 1988.
Also, I know they were probably trying to be artistic and show off that ridiculous haircut he’s made his trademark, but I really doubt that I would authorize a photo of the top of his head for the friggin’ album cover.
Out Of Order: taking you back to the 80s, where Rod does what he does best: singing about wanting love, having love, lost love, how much he loves to dance and rock, and (in subtext) how horny he is all of the damn time.