Rod Stewart was skeptical when Warner Bros. suggested pairing vocal tracks from his classic songs with new music from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. “I can’t say that I’d pay for a ticket to go and watch classical music,” he tells Rolling Stone. “But I told them I’d like to hear a couple of takes and see what they can do with these songs. I was pleasantly surprised with what they came back with.”
The result, You’re In My Heart: Rod Stewart With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, is set for release on November 22nd. It’s centered around hits like “Maggie May,” “Forever Young,” “The First Cut Is The Deepest” and “Reason To Believe,” but he also recorded the new song “Stop Loving Here Today,” premiering at Rolling Stone.
The song was written by Simon Climie, one half of the UK pop duo Climie Fisher that’s best known for their 1987 hit “Love Changes Everything.” “His manager is an ex-girlfriend of mine from way back in the 1970s named Dee Harrington,” says Stewart. “He’s a wonderful chap and writes beautiful songs. He came up with this one and she said, ‘You know who should sing this? Rod.’ They gave it to me and I immediately fell in love with it.”
He originally recorded it without the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. “To make it blend in somewhat we had to put them on it,” says Stewart. “I think we might have gilded the lily with the strings on it and we might do a remix where we take them down a little because they’re a bit too loud.”
Stewart also takes on the 1966 Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston classic “It Takes Two” that he recorded as a duet with Robbie Williams. They first teamed up earlier this year to record “Fairytales” on Williams’ upcoming Christmas LP The Christmas Present. “After that I said, ‘You owe me one now,'” says Stewart. “And he did a good job [with ‘It Takes Two’] because I never looked at him as a real out-and-out rock singer, but he did a bloody good job, I’ll tell you. Now we’re doing the television shows together and the World Command Performance in front of her majesty, The Queen. We’re going to open the show with ‘It Takes Two.'”
Beyond recording those two songs, Stewart’s role in the creation of the album was relatively minimal since the producers relied on isolated vocals tracks from his master studio recordings and his 1993 Unplugged…and Seated concert as opposed to having him re-record vocals. “I don’t understand the technical side of recording at all,” he says. “I’m lost when it comes to that. I do know that they kept the drums from the original recording of ‘Maggie May.’ Believe it or not, they even added strings to ‘Stay With Me.’ They really punched it up and I’m quite proud of it.”
Stewart kicks off an extensive UK arena tour on November 23rd at the Manchester Arena. It wraps up with three nights at the O2 Arena in London. “We’re taking a 36-piece orchestra with us for those shows,” says Stewart. “We’ll place them behind the band and hope for the best.”