Rod Stewart and The Faces
Reviewed on this page:
The Rod Stewart Album - First Step - Gasoline Alley - Long Player - Every Picture Tells A Story - A Nod Is As Good As A Wink... - Never A Dull Moment - Ooh La La - Coast To Coast: Overture And Beginners - Smiler - I've Got My Own Album To Do -
Now Look -
Atlantic Crossing - A Night On The Town -
Mahoney's Last Stand -
Foot Loose And Fancy Free - Blondes Have More Fun - Gimme Some Neck - Slide On This - Unplugged... And Seated - Slide On Live: Plugged In And Standing -
A Spanner In The Works
The Faces started out as a reincarnated version of those mod popsters the Small Faces, but eventually established a completely different identity (changing their name helped a little). The Small Faces had been cast adrift when guitarist/frontman Steve Marriott got a bee in his bonnet and took off to create a new band with Peter Frampton (Humble Pie). Within a year, however, Ronnie Lane and company were able to convince Rod Stewart and Ron Wood - who had just quit (or rather, been abandoned by) Jeff Beck - to fill in.
At this point Stewart had already signed a long-term record contract, commandeered Beck's rhythm section (including Wood), and recorded a debut solo album. Letting him continue in that capacity was part of the deal. Stewart and Wood cut a series of successful "Rod Stewart" albums on the side, and they also worked more and more closely within the Faces sensu stricto. As a result, Lane was effectively isolated and reduced to a second-string songwriter, driving him to quit in frustration. But while it lasted, the band established itself as the second-best bluesy early 70s English rock act - after the Stones, of course.
The Faces never had the slightest idea of how to expand on the I-IV-V key of B or E formula that they had stolen from American R & B acts. But neither did the Who or the Stones, and it's no surprise that the Faces finally broke up when Wood joined the Stones, with pianist Ian McLagan later tagging along for the ride. Lane had already quit to start a solo career, releasing three albums in the mid-70s.
In 1977 the Small Faces reformed for a tour and two albums, but Lane didn't take part and instead cut the successful LP Rough Mix with Pete Townshend.
And after Keith Moon's death in 1978, drummer Kenney Jones joined the Who. Unfortunately, Ronnie Lane came down with MS as the 70s came to a close; he finally succumbed to the disease in 1997. Wood is still with the Stones, and Jones and McLagan have kept lower profiles.
Meanwhile, Rod Stewart has pursued a successful solo career to this day. I used to think that he'd abandoned his musical self-respect after dumping Wood and the Faces, but this is a misconception based on a few late 70s disco hits like "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy." Actually, his first few post-Faces, Tom Dowd-produced records turn out to be balanced efforts, with some hard-rock in the Faces great tradition, some over-orchestrated junk, and just a few disco tunes.
My ratings of all these records are low, and there are plenty of good reasons such as the Faces' lack of originality, instrumental virtuosity, lyrical substance, and quality songwriting (did I leave anything out?). However, Stewart and company have a way of getting under your skin, kind of like drunken, partying, good-for-nothing high school buddies you can't resist hanging out with. These are the records I reach for when I'm in the mood for sheer fun.
As you might expect, there's are decent semi-official Faces and Rod Stewart web sites. (JA)
The Faces - Kenney Jones (drums); Ronnie Lane (bass, vocals); Ian Maclagan (keyboards); Rod Stewart (vocals); Ron Wood (guitar). Lane quit, replaced by Tetsu Yamauchi, 1973, effectively transforming the Faces into the Rod Stewart back-up band, as Lane had feared would happen.
Rod Stewart's backup band - Ian McLagan (keyboards); Martin Quittendon (acoustic guitar); Mick Waller (drums); Ron Wood (electric guitar, bass). Numerous guest artists (e.g., Pete Sears, piano, bass; Dick Powell, standup bass, violin) are featured.
Art Wood's Quiet Melon (rec. 1969, rel. 1995)
This was an embryonic version of the Faces, featuring all of the later members plus Art Wood (Ron Wood's older brother) and Kim Gardner (bassist of the Birds and Creation, two moderately successful groups that both had featured Ron Wood). Fans tell me that the band recorded three tracks that eventually were released on a CD of this name in Britain, but I've never seen it. (JA)
The Rod Stewart Album (Stewart: 1969)
The hit song on Stewart's debut album is a ballad featuring a tasteful but now dated-sounding orchestral arrangement ("Handbags & Gladrags"). That might make you think, "oh yeah, Mr. Soft Rock himself, Rod Stewart." But at this point, he's experimenting with every genre he can think of - blues ("Blind Prayer"), funk ("Cindy's Lament"), and acoustic balladry ("Dirty Old Town").
In fact, things get downright bizarre when Ian McLagan, prog rocker Keith Emerson - still fronting the Nice - and producer-suddenly-turned-leaden-singer Lou Reizner conspire with Stewart on the 6/8-time "I Wouldn't Ever Change A Thing." As on all of Stewart's early LP's, The Album's shuffling, bluesy instrumental end is held down entirely by Ron Wood's bass and guitar work.
Strangely, Wood's slide guitar leads are better on this than on the later debut Faces album, as on the odd, lengthy cover of "Street Fightin' Man." Although Rod's crazy experimentation often works and there are hints of his later, full-blown 70s sound, the record never really takes off. (JA)
First Step (Faces: 1970)
Recorded much too quickly after Stewart and Wood had joined the band, this is rough, underproduced, and forgettable. Wood, having only recently served as Jeff Beck's bass player, had discovered the slide guitar but couldn't quite figure out what to do with it, with disastrous results (Dylan's "Wicked Messenger"; the bluesy, out-of-control "Around The Plynth"). And there's plenty of filler - every track save one runs four to six minutes, and there are two unremarkable instrumentals. Nonetheless, the band does sometimes rock (the brainless, over-long "Three Button Hand Me Down"); Stewart croons a couple of good ballads ("Nobody Knows"; the uncharacteristically "Hey Jude"-like anthem "Flying"); and Lane croaks out an amusing folk number ("Stone," re-recorded for Pete Townshend's Who Came First). (JA)
Gasoline Alley (Stewart: 1970)
In contrast to the Faces, Stewart at this point already knew exactly what he was doing. He'd worked out a formula alternating between thudding R & B grunge epics a la the Faces (a cover of Bobby Womack's "It's All Over Now," a hit single for the Stones years before); acoustic ballads often featuring mandolins, slide guitar, fiddles, etc. (title track; "Lady Day"); and, most effectively, numbers that blend the two genres ("Cut Across Shorty," one of Stewart's best recordings, albeit a cover of an old Eddie Cochran hit).
However, this one drags a bit and overworks the formula to the point of monotony. Really a Wood-Stewart duo effort, as Wood plays guitar on every track and largely defines the sound. (JA)
Long Player (Faces: 1971)
Despite all the years of professional experience they already had, by now the Faces still didn't know what the hell they were doing. The record sounds like a bootleg, with the band trying hard to imitate the rambling, hard-boozing country-blues approach the Stones had perfected on Exile On Main Street, but leaving out the music part (e.g., a long, live, clumsy, partying take on Willie Broonzy's "I Feel So Good"). They even drag in Stones stalwart Bobby Keys to help out on sax ("Had Me A Real Good Time," which really does sound like Exile). Everywhere, including on the better material like the rocking intro track "Bad 'N' Ruin" and the routine, slide-guitar laden ballad "Sweet Lady Mary," the boys just don't know when to stop, stretching thin material beyond its limits.
Ronnie Lane does get in two decent, but slight acoustic folk numbers ("Richmond"; "On The Beach," with a good riff but intentionally ragged vocals). Best moment (one of few): the band staggers into a live rendition of Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed" and Lane starts to sing. Just when you're about to fast forward, Stewart takes over and saves the day... (JA)
Every Picture Tells a Story (Stewart: 1971)
The Rod Stewart formula reaches its peak - after barely making a dent in the American market with his first two albums, Rod soared all the way to #1 this time. It's deserved: "Maggie May" is one of Stewart's best-known songs, but there's a lot more going on here, including great ballads like "Mandolin Wind," with a real mandolin part, and even better rockers like the picaresque title track and the Faces' high-voltage cover of the Temptations' "(I Know) I'm Losing You." It's consistently attention-grabbing, even when Rod goes over the top with covers like the chant-along "Seems Like A Long Time" and Tim Hardin's preachy "Reason To Believe." And the uncredited, acoustic-plus-vocal version of "Amazing Grace" also comes off well. Ron Wood again provides backing throughout the record, and he's matured into a loud and effective Keith Richards imitator. If there's any Rod Stewart record you'll want to listen to over and over and over again, this is certainly it. (JA)
A Nod Is As Good As A Wink... (Faces: 1971)
This was the Faces' only major commercial break-through, and the success was well-deserved. It's marred by one overlong, monotonous cover (Chuck Berry's "Memphis, Tennessee") and some second-rate English folk blues ("Last Orders Please"), but elsewhere, the band proves itself to be as loud as the loudest (the bluesy "Miss Judy's Farm"; the catchy "Too Bad" and "That's All You Need"), and pumps out a couple of great ballads ("Love Lives Here"; "Debris"). Oh, and I forgot all about "Stay With Me," a great, anthemic rocker that is possibly the Faces' high point. (JA)
Never A Dull Moment (Stewart: 1972)
NOT. This is still very much the Quittendon-Waller-Wood band that worked on the previous three records, replaced by the full Faces on one good, catchy rocker ("True Blue") and most of them on a solid but superfluous cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Angel." Stewart's band is more or less up to the job, delivering a couple of nice hits - the marvelous crooner "You Wear It Well"; a grungy, mid-tempo cover of Sam Cooke's "Twistin' The Night Away." And everything is done oh-so-professionally. Still, the record gets soft and squishy in the absence of the Faces, unlike previous efforts; sometimes it works (Dylan's "Mama You Been On My Mind"), sometimes it doesn't ("I'd Rather Go Blind," a tedious 3/4 soul number). It's surprising that Wood let Stewart get away with this - maybe he was just too bored to put up a fight. (JA)
Sing It Again, Rod (Stewart: 1972)
This is a marginally deceptive greatest hits package mostly based on the earlier Rod/Faces records. The exception is "Pinball Wizard," from Rod's appearance on the London Symphony Orchestra's version of Tommy. (JA)
Ooh La La (Faces: 1973)
The Faces' last hurrah, after a delay of more than a year. Ronnie Lane had been writing songs for nearly a decade, but only here, at the end of the Faces' run, does he seem to have something to say. His folky ballads have gotten surprisingly thoughtful, if melodramatic ("If I'm On The Late Side"; "Just Another Honky") and/or misogynistic (title track). Stewart and Wood, who collaborate with Lane on a couple of his better numbers, also contribute some characteristically over-wrought and catchy rockers ("Cindy Incidentally"; "My Fault"; "Silicone Grown," with hysterical lyrics about accidental pregnancy and intentional silicone, uh, enhancement). The only low point is a brainless instrumental ("Fly In The Ointment"). If nothing else, the record is much more consistent than any of the other Faces efforts. Stewart continued the "Faces" for a full two years after this, mostly for the purpose of touring.
However, the post-Lane lineup did release did A-sides that sold well in England: "Pool Hall Richard" and 1974's "You Can Make Me Dance, Sing Or Anything." (JA)
Coast To Coast: Overture And Beginners (Faces: 1974)
For serious fans only. Shortly after Lane's departure from the group, the Faces replaced him with Tetsu Yamauchi (ex-Paul Kossoff band) and knocked off this live album. And it's definitely a knock-off, with long, sloppy performances of mostly well-trodden material such as "It's All Over Now" and "Cut Across Shorty." The only "new" stuff is a pedestrian ballad (the Temptations' "I Wish It Would Rain") and yet another high-profile cover ("Jealous Guy"; Wood's noodling is nice, but Stewart only proves that this one belongs to John Lennon and nobody else).
Occasionally the Faces do get their act together - "Angel" is almost done justice, sounding more sincere live than in the studio; and "Stay With Me" retains some of its power even with the band being less than enthusiastic. But bootlegs from this era prove that the Faces could have done a lot better. (JA)
Anymore For Anymore (Lane: 1974)
Lane's first solo album, mostly consisting of original material.
Like all of his solo work, the record is almost impossible to find in the U.S.
Lane had dubbed his band Slim Chance, but the original lineup collapsed shortly after the release of this record, and the "Slim Chance" band on his next couple of albums is entirely different.
There are no Faces members or other big names among the players here, but drummer Bruce Rowlands later appeared on Mahoney's Last Stand. (JA)
Smiler (Stewart: 1974)
This was the last full-blown Wood-Stewart collaboration, and it's a let down. All of Rod's regular players are here, augmented by Rick Grech on violin, Kenney Jones on drums, Ian McLagan on keyboards, etc. But Stewart comes up short with material, covering everyone from Sam Cooke to Bob Dylan to Chuck Berry to Elton John ("Let Me Be Your Car," featuring Willie Weeks, Andy Newmark, and Elton himself) to Carole King ("You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Man" - it's just as terrible as you might guess). And Paul McCartney gave Rod the ballad "Mine For Me," one of only five new numbers.
Stewart's also abandoning his sound, going with an overblown boogie-woogie approach on the the Memphis Horns-energized "Sailor" and "Let Me Be Your Car"; sappy strings on "Bring It On Home To Me/You Send Me" and "Girl From The North Country"; a jazz band on "Dixie Toot"; and steel drums on "Mine For Me," one of the few bright spots. Only a few tracks get the standard treatment, and of course they're the best ones (Pete Sears' ballad "Lochinvar," with shuffling drums, country fiddling, and a jangly mandolin; Stewart-Quittendon's fine love song "Farewell"). Smiler was a deserved flop; afterwards, Stewart split with Wood, went soft-rock, and sat back as his career really took off. (JA)
I've Got My Own Album To Do (Wood: 1974)
You can see how Wood was perfect for the Stones' - he's loud, he rocks, and, well, he can't sing to save his life (the hysterical, charming "Shirley"). Hence, he's always been a perfect foil for the domineering Mick Jagger and Keith Richard(s). It's even hard to make out Wood's gravelley, astoundingly Dylan-esque voice from Richard's when they're singing together ("Sure The One You Need"). In fact, Richard (no 's' at this point, as slyly hinted at on the album cover) contributes two songs and is given full credit, along with Ian McLagan.
But uncredited appearances abound: Jagger shares lead vocals on "I Can Feel The Fire," a pleasantly loud, up-tempo reggae tune; Rod Stewart moans along on "If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody" (indeed!); George Harrison sings, shares the writing credit, and creates his characteristic sound on the enjoyable "Far East Man," which also appeared simultaneously on George's Dark Horse; and the rhythm section of warp-speed bassist Willie Weeks and drummer Andy Newmark appeared not only on that record, but later on Young Americans with David Bowie. And rumor even has it Mick Taylor appears somewhere. In sum, a bargain for late-period Stones fans. And gee, who's that guy with the white hat on the back cover? Looks familiar. (JA)
Ronnie Lane's Slim Chance (Lane: 1975)
By now Lane had formed a proper band that he called Slim Chance.
Mostly originals again, although there are some covers of 50's oldies by Fats Domino and Chuck Berry. (JA)
Now Look (Wood: 1975)
The last record was a chuckle of relief after escaping from the Faces. By now Wood had regained his bearings, and he recruited Bobby Womack to serve as foil guitarist, singer, and producer. Womack's flawless professionalism and agile, understated rhythm parts are written all over the album - a well-known songwriter and session player, he then was at the peak of his solo career. Indeed, you can't imagine that Wood could have pulled off tasteful 70s R & B balladry like the smooth "If You Don't Want My Love" on his own, and almost nothing here really rocks out like a Faces or Stones record.
Still, though, there are enough dueling guitars and funky bass and drum parts to avoid the tackiness of contemporary Rod Stewart albums, and although Wood's vocals are still painfully rough, the production is so careful that it's never embarassing.
The catch is that none of the songwriting is even as memorable as the last record's, and there are too many six-minute arrangements that aggravate the problem. The rest of the band is Newmark, Weeks, and McLagan; since
Wood was a de facto member of the Stones at this time, Keith Richard and Mick Taylor show up on a couple tracks, as does Kenney Jones. (JA)
Atlantic Crossing (Stewart: 1975)
A commercial rebound from Smiler, guided by producer Tom Dowd of Allman Bros./Eric Clapton fame. Rod ended up with a pleasant, but tasteful trifle. On the first side there's heavy Muscle Shoals R & B firepower: several tracks were cut with the MG's (Cropper, Dunn, Jackson), and others feature Jesse Ed Davis (guitar), David Hood (bass), Roger Hawkins (drums), and the Memphis Horns. Nigel Olsson, Elton John's steadfast drummer, even shows up.
That stuff is a blast; the great, gritty Stax-Volt sound weds itself nicely to Stewart's chugging rock instincts and the then-flashy chorus guitar effect. But on the second side Rod overindulges his romantic ballad fetish, with some dull 70s orchestration courtesy of Arif Mardin.
The frightening thing is that it's far less nauseating than the equivalent ooze on the very similar Dowd-produced albums that followed. Half the record's tunes are covers, most of them obscure except an energetic "Drift Away" and a soothing, near-disco slow dance "This Old Heart Of Mine" (an old Holland-Dozier-Holland hit for the Isley Brothers). Rod wrote the rest himself, with Davis helping on "Alright For An Hour" and Cropper on "Stone Cold Sober." Although the album sold well, Rod didn't score another Top 40 hit until the next time around. (JA)
One For The Road (Lane: 1976)
Lane's last proper solo album for a while, featuring his band Slim Chance.
Although the title makes it sound like a live album, it actually features a complete set of new original tunes. (JA)
A Night On The Town (Stewart: 1976)
Thinking not to mess with a good formula, Stewart and Dowd again split the record between smooth, romantic ballads on one side and slightly harder-rocking numbers on the other. And again, the MG's and Muscle Shoals players alternate with L.A. dudes like Joe Walsh, Joe Lala, and Lee Sklar, plus the then-hot Willie Weeks/Andy Newmark rhythm section. But it's a mess; the rockers are really dull, mostly being derivative Chuck Berry rehashes (the entertainingly smutty "Balltrap"; "Big Bayou") - at this point Rod couldn't even remember how to rip off his Faces sound.
The string-smothered love songs are worse; five minutes of "Trade Winds" is five minutes too many. And "Tonight's The Night (Gonna Be Alright)," Rod's first song in four years to hit the Top 40 and second #1 hit single? It's proto-disco garbage, crass beyond the point of camp. The biggest embarassment, though, is Rod's fictional ode to a slain gay friend, which weds clumsy lyrics to a bloated mess of an arrangment ("The Killing Of Georgie"). Two decades on, it's frightening to recall that both it and the cover of Cat Steven's sappy "The First Cut Is The Deepest" did moderately well in the Top 40. So despite the players and a fair number of original tunes, the album is a waste of time for any but the most devoted late 70s Stewart fans. (JA)
Mahoney's Last Stand (Lane & Wood: 1976)
Actually recorded before the Faces split, this is a mostly instrumental movie soundtrack with a raw, good-timey, bluesy, quasi-acoustic early Faces sound ("Tonight's Number").
All the originals are co-credited; they also do an a capella take on the traditional "I'll Fly Away," more recently revived on the Oh Brother soundtrack.
The record's dominated by short jam tunes ("Hay Tumble"), and several of them are underdeveloped blues ("Chicken Wire," done vocally as "Chicken Wired"; Wood's vocal spotlight, the down-home "Mona - The Blues"; and the archaic "Woody's Thing").
They only sound like they're really trying on a couple tracks (the slow-paced, smiley-faced country-western numbers "From The Late To The Early" and "Rooster Funeral").
But Wood gets in some of his tasty slide work ("Car Radio"), while Lane gets to sing and play guitar and banjo.
Plus there's one great riff tune that's almost worthy of the Stones ("Title One"), as well as the record's big moment, a really nice, characteristic Lane ballad ("Just For A Moment," also done instrumentally).
A harmless, light-weight Faces side project.
Produced by Glyn Johns.
There's no set band, but Ian McLagan (piano), Bruce Rowlands (drums), Bobby Keys and Jim Price, and Rick Grech (bass, violin, drums [!]) all show up repeatedly, and there are guest shots by Pete Townshend, Kenney Jones, Micky Waller, and even Ian Stewart.
The next year Lane recorded the duo album Rough Mix with Townshend. (JA)
Foot Loose And Fancy Free (Stewart: 1977)
An improvement over A Night On The Town, but not much of one. The two big hits here are throwbacks - despite its feathery electric piano and silly backup vocals, "You're In My Heart" has the same mellow acoustic guitar and cheerful fiddle of Rod's early solo records; and "Hot Legs" sounds exactly like all those glorious old Faces rockers (and "Born Loose" like some of the less auspicious ones). Other than that, though, the production is fully modernized, alternating between syrupy, orchestrated ballads, and arena-friendly rockers with funky bass lines and screeching guitars ("You're Insane").
Most of the material is original, with the major exception being a listenable, but overblown cover of the Supremes' "You Keep Me Hangin' On" (also done by the Vanilla Fudge!), which runs 7 minutes in a laughable attempt to emulate the rock epic style of "Stairway To Heaven."
The rhythm section consists of former Vanilla Fudge/Jeff Beck drummer Carmine Appice and fellow Beck alum Phil Chen (bass) (what is this, the Jeff Beck fan club?); Nicky Hopkins, John Mayall, and Steve Cropper all make guest appearances. Not only that, Tom Dowd is back, and the arranger is Del Newman (Goodbye Yellow Brick Road). (JA)
Blondes Have More Fun (Stewart: 1978)
Probably Rod's commercial peak: his second and last #1 album, it features a huge #1 hit single - the disco monster "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy," co-written with Carmine Appice. It's still a good laugh after all these years, and for many people it's the sine qua non of Rod Stewart. But it's not typical of his work, having been ripped off from a Brazilian disco tune. The rest of the record was written by Rod working with assorted band members; the only exception is the disco-ized Four Tops/Holland-Dozier-Holland hit "Standing In The Shadows Of Love."
Throughout the album, the production is as refined as a shiny new sports car: it's quiet, clean-running, formulaic light rock. As a result, the endless Latin, reggae, country-western, and 50's rock references are never prominent enough to be interesting. Still, Rod's tongue-in-cheek party-boy lyrics are often hysterically funny ("Attractive Female Wanted"), and the album is loads of fun as long as you don't take it too seriously. "Ain't Love A Bitch" was the other single; it's cheerful, insubstantial pop like the rest.
Dowd and Newman are both back here; the band is Appice, Chen, and a trio of no-name guitarists; and guests include Paulinho da Costa, Nicky Hopkins, Tom Scott, and the insufferable Mike Finnigan, who sings some backup. (JA)
See Me (Lane: 1979)
Lane's last solo project before MS forced him into retirement; here he mostly just sings and leaves the bass playing to Brian Belshaw (ex-Slim Chance) or Chrissie Stewart.
Alun Davies is the main guitarist and the drummer is usually Bruce Rowlands; there are prominent guests including Eric Clapton, Mel Collins, Henry McCullough, Ian Stewart. (JA)
Gimme Some Neck (Wood: 1979)
This is a fairly predictable return to solo records: backed by Charlie Watts, Ian McLagan, and a sharp studio bass player ("Pops" Popwell), Wood serves up some crunchy, nutritious Stones-esque rock - replace his lead vocal with Mick Jagger's and you'd have a decent Stones record. To top it off, Jagger and/or Richards supply backing vocals on about half the songs, and Stones backing band veteran Bobby Keys plays sax on another. There are still further guest appearances by Mick Fleetwood, Jim Keltner, Dave Mason, etc. Wood's singing is more like Richards' than ever, and it's all solid and enjoyable, but mostly forgettable - the rockers in particular all sound the same, but a few ballads like "Lost and Lonely" stand out. The best track (no surprise here) is Bob Dylan's "Seven Days" (no, Dylan doesn't play on it). (JA)
Foolish Behavior (Stewart: 1980)
Indeed. This and the rest of Rod's 80s records were moderate commercial successes, commensurate with his status as a Big Deal Pop Star. In this case, the Top Ten hit was "Passion." (JA)
1234 (Wood: 1981)
Don't have any details on this at the moment, other than that Rod Stewart doesn't appear, and a pile of people including Carmine Appice, Jim Keltner, Nicky Hopkins, Ian McLagan, Charlie Watts, and Bobby Womack do. Jeez, Ron must be the friendliest guy in the rock industry. (JA)
Tonight I'm Yours (Stewart: 1981)
Includes "Young Turks," a really big hit that really annoyed the heck out of me at the time. The title track also broke the Top 40. Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics for a couple of the songs. (JA)
April Fool (Lane: rec. 1968 - 1981, rel. 1999)
A compilation consisting of a few old Faces tunes and a bunch of outtakes and live cuts that span Lane's entire solo career, including collaborations with Wood and Pete Townshend.
There's a bonus EP disc, so the track listing is quite long. (JA)
Absolutely Live (Stewart: 1982)
I've seen this one, it's a double LP that's been squeezed onto one CD by cutting out some tracks. (JA)
Body Wishes (Stewart: 1983)
I'm pretty sure the moderate hit "Baby Jane" is on here; the record was less commercially successful than others in this era. "What Am I Gonna Do (I'm So In Love With You)" also came out this year and may be on it. (JA)
Camouflage (Stewart: 1984)
Whoa, two big-time Top Ten hits here - "Infatuation" and "Some Guys Have All The Luck." (JA)
Rod Stewart (Stewart: 1986)
"Love Touch," which appeared in the movie Legal Eagles, was a Top Ten hit this time. Apparently the British title was Every Beat Of My Heart. (JA)
Out Of Order (Stewart: 1988)
Includes a rewrite of Bob Dylan's Forever Young" co-credited to Stewart and band members.
Co-produced by Stewart, guitarist Andy Taylor, and bassist Bernard Edwards, with an all-star session musician lineup including Cregan, Michael Landau, David Lindley, Lenny Pickett, Bob Glaub, Edwards' Chic compatriot Tony Thompson, and Bobbye Hall. (JA)
In A Broken Dream (Stewart: 1989)
Live At The Ritz (Wood: 1993)
Features Bo Diddley.
I have this one and I think it's pretty slim, with Wood letting Diddley take control through most of the record and Wood's spotlights not really adding anything to what you might hear on Slide On Live. (JA)
Vagabond Heart (Stewart: 1991)
Includes a version of the Stylistics' "You Are Everything." (DBW)
Slide On This (Wood: 1992)
My god, Ron Wood knows how to sing. It took him a quarter-century, but he finally and decisively figured it out. This is his best solo record, and it's even better than contemporary Rolling Stones product. Why? First, when Wood can stay on key he's a grittier and more sincere singer than Jagger - a traditionalist soul/R & B crooner of the best sort. Second, with Richards not around Wood seems overjoyed to let loose with slide, rhythm, and lead guitar. It's some of the most unrestrained, but wizened and well-informed lead guitar work you'll hear on a 90s rock record.
A couple tunes are donated by hack writer Jerry Williams, but at least the material is more diverse than usual, not just R & B (a rocking cover of Parliament's "Testify") but orchestrated experimentation and acoustic balladry (the memorable, aching "Breathe On Me"). And the backing band is good too, including Stones associates Charlie Watts (drums), Doug Wimbish (bass), and especially Bernie Fowler (vocals, keyboards, co-production, co-writes).
Plus there are guests like Chuck Leavell, Ian McLagan, and even the Edge and the Hothouse Flowers, who turn "Like It" into an unimaginatively overdriven rocker. (JA)
Lead Vocalist (Stewart: 1993)
Unplugged... And Seated (Stewart: 1993)
Stewart cut this collection of 15 mostly-oldies for an MTV appearance with Ron Wood, who is featured not only on guitar but on the front cover (!). Sounds good in theory, but in practice Wood doesn't help much - he shows up late and often gets drowned out by the backup guitarists, even though his ecstatic slide guitar work brings everything to a fever pitch on a few numbers ("Cut Across Shorty").
Worse, Rod's voice dies on the high notes, and he indulges himself with a string of sappy, orchestrated ballads like "People Get Ready," the nauseating, "Desperado"-like "Tom Traubert's Blues (Waltzing Matilda)," and a "new" cover of Van Morrison's "Have I Told You Lately."
Still, there's so much attention here to early, Faces-era material like "Handbags And Gladrags" and "Stay With Me" that any fan is going to get a solid nostalgia rush out of it.
The large backing band is pretty anonymous, outside of bassist Carmine Rojas and veteran Stewart guitarist Jim Cregan. And don't even get me started with my list of the other 50-something rock stars who have plugged in to the Unplugged resuscitation machine... (JA)
Slide On Live: Plugged In And Standing (Wood: 1993)
What a blast: now that Ron Wood been on the road for a million years, he's able to tear through his old Faces and solo standards with the kind of effortless, ragged self-confidence you expect from a real master. Most of the tunes here are two decades old, and most of them are more fun than on the original records.
The material that does get repeated from Slide On This is generally strong: "Testify, "Josephine," and a rapturous "Breathe On Me" ("Show Me" does devolve into insincere boogie-woogie self-parody).
And only a Rolling Stone could get away with the wild, messy slide guitar jam toward the end of the record ("Around The Plinth/Gasoline Alley/Amazing Grace/Prodigal Son" - he even sings a snippet of Rod's part on "Alley"!). Features Ian McLagan and Bernie Fowler, who pulls off respectable Rod Stewart imitations on "Flying," "Silicone Grown," and a boisterous "Stay With Me" encore; the other players are Chuck Leavell (some keyboards), Johnny Lee Schell (guitar), Wayne Sheehy (drums), and Shuan Solomon (bass). Co-produced by Wood, Fowler, and Eoghan McCarron. (JA)
A Spanner In The Works (Stewart: 1995)
You can't blame a singer for lacking artistic pretensions. But at his peak, Rod Stewart at least wrote his own material and led his own band; here, he acts as if being creative was somebody else's problem.
You'd expect him to cover Bob Dylan ("Sweetheart Like You") and Sam Cooke, and he does; but the rest is cobbled together - some well-known writers (Tom Petty's vaguely countryish "Leave Virginia Alone"; Tom Waits), a bunch of hacks (Chris Rea; Paul Buchanan), and just a couple of originals.
Rod's "Muddy, Sam And Otis" is crass Baby Boomer nostalgia, and he even brazenly retitles "Wild Mountain Thyme" and credits it to himself ("Purple Heather").
Main producer Trevor Horn does know how to make a "Rod Stewart" record, adding the predictable strummed acoustic guitar, swirling organ, and perky mandolin or bouzouki parts ("Lady Luck"), and alternating between limp, soothing Adult Contemporary, chugging Stax-Volt R & B (Waits' "Hang On St. Christopher"; Cooke's "Soothe Me"), and mid-tempo "rock" (the blatant Stones imitation "Delicious," ironically the best entertainment value here).
But the whole effort is so slick and soulless that it sounds as if Warner Brothers' CEOs had written and recorded it themselves.
Bernie Edwards played some bass and got mixed up in the production; the band is often David Palmer (drums), Jeff Golub, Robin LeMesurier, and/or Tim Pierce (guitar), and Kevin Savigar (keyboards); and the bit players are innumerable - Paulinho da Costa, Jim Cregan, Mike Landau, David Lindley, Davey Johnstone, James Newton-Howard, Billy Preston, Carmine Rojas, Leland Sklar, Andy Taylor, several choirs, orchestras, and horn sections. (JA)
If We Fall In Love Tonight (Stewart: 1996)
I'm not sure what to say about this; just like everyone from Elton on down, Rod has been talked into releasing a greatest hits package spiced with enough bonus tracks to make it irresistable to fans. This release features ten old numbers and five new ones, including a rerecording of Out Of Order's "Forever Young" and guest appearances by Sting (yuck) and Bryan Adams (double yuck) on "All For Love" (triple yuck). Think I'll take a rain check here... (JA)
When We Were The New Boys (Stewart: 1998)
A new studio album, as if anyone really cares.
I've heard the title track, and it's a pandering, self-referential Baby Boomer nostalgia piece of the type that Stewart seems to specialize in these days, with overdriven acoustic guitars, unsteady vocals, and a mandolin part thrown in just in case you don't recognize the man's voice. (JA)
Human (Stewart: 2001)
Have this one.
A generic, low-key contemporary R & B record with mostly programmed drums and keyboards provided by a half-dozen different producers, plus guest shots by guitarists like Slash, Robbie MacIntosh, and Mark Knopfler, and an incredibly annoying duet with some woman who sounds like a midget.
There are no ill-considered attempts to manufacture the "classic Rod Stewart sound," but that also means there's nothing hinting at the blues, British folk, and hard rock influences that made his early 70s work so great.
Stewart didn't write anything and seems to have done little more than overdub his vocals onto the pre-fab backing tracks, and there are so many hack writers involved that there's no coherent sound.
At least it's never really offensive, and Stewart's distinctive phrasing is just a tad unpredictable.
But only a die-hard, middle-aged fan might enjoy it. (JA)
It Had To Be You... The Great American Songbook (Stewart: 2002)
As if Stewart hasn't already devolved into a walking soft rock parody of himself, now he's decided to cash in with a set of half-century old pop standards that no self-respecting rocker would have touched back in his glory years (except Ringo Starr, of course).
"They Can't Take That Away From Me"? "It Had To Be You"? Lawd help us.
Produced by corporate bigshots Clive Davis, Richard Perry, and Phil Ramone, with a cast of millions including nobody important - obscure but omnipresent session and lite jazz players like Michael Brecker, Arturo Sandoval, Dave Koz, Reggie McBride, Jeff Mironov, Jimmy Rip, Rob Mounsey, Alan Schwartzberg, etc., etc., even Chris Botti. (JA)
As Time Goes By... The Great American Songbook Vol. II (Stewart: 2003)
Honestly, what the world really needs is ANOTHER set of archaic standards sung by a man whose vocal and stylistic range has shrunk to a microscopic scale.
At least this time he rounded up a couple of profoundly talented superstar guests: Cher (okay, so Stewart isn't the most pathetic 60s veteran still out there), and Queen Latifah.
Same producers, a lot of the same players but also a bunch of new ones like Dean Parks and David Spinozza.
After all, aren't musicians just glorified day laborers? (JA)
What, you don't want to stay with me?