.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/74fb554e8d457270c47be596a005aa25ca62fc2e.jpg The Rod Stewart Album

Rod Stewart

The Rod Stewart Album

Mercury
Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 0 0
February 7, 1970

Rod Stewart, lead singer with the off-again on-again Jeff Beck group, has come up with a superb album of his own. Imagination pervades the music, in the choice of material, in the frequent use of beautiful bottleneck guitar work to draw out the subtler aspects of many cuts (Ron Wood is responsible here), and in the range Stewart himself displays on virtually every vocal.

British albums are often over-done, with good ideas transformed into gimmicks; on this record the music sustains itself through innumerable listenings. A bass solo is not an indulgence here but a perfect lead-in to striking piano; the bottleneck is so sparing that you simply hunger for more of that brilliant sound. What is more amazing is that the musicians make their statements with the same sort of friendly sympathy that recently has been displayed only by the Stones and by the three geniuses of Traffic. Their soul is in their timing.

Stewart opens by taking the big risk, with "Street Fighting Man." And, like Johnny Winter's "Highway 61 Revisited," Rod's performance shows no self-consciousness, no worry about the "right way" to do it. He starts in the middle, brakes with a crash, and then a familiar "We Love You" riff on the piano carries the song back to the Stones' beginning. Rod's ending. It's just a fine piece of music, not a cover.

"Man of Constant Sorrow" is next; Stewart's own guitar is up front, while Wood's bottleneck creeps in from the other channel, adding depth to a vocal that is just about the definition of English soul. The richness of this album begins to suggest itself here — this is not just another solid Joe Cocker LP, but something more. You don't hear Ray Charles or anyone else looking over Stewart's shoulder, but an echo of lessons well earned.

"Handbags & Gladrags" clinches it. It will remind most of the Stones' "No Expectations"; the same soft despairing heart-breaking Floyd Cramer-style piano played by Mike D'Abo, and again, the sort of restraint and timing that makes the listener wish the song would never end. It's a very sophisticated composition, a brief story that's full of emotion but which never slides into dull sentiment. Like the rest of the songs Stewart is singing here, it's not going to get old.

Stewart's LP is perhaps the only album released this year that reflects something of the feeling of Beggars' Banquet, aside from Let It Bleed. And, unlike so many of the records of 1969, issued with a flood of hype and forgotten after a dozen playings, this one is for keeps. Many LPs are a lot flashier than this one, but damn few are any better.

prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “You Oughta Know”

    Alanis Morissette | 1995

    This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com