A Night On The Town and Atlantic Crossing were the albums that saw Rod Stewart junk his old buddies in The Faces, bring in a host of top notch session musicians and move fully into the world of adult contemporary music. For a lot of people it was where he lost his mojo, but as he teetered on the edge of becoming a fully fledged cartoon character, there were still some songs worth listening to.
Starting with the lesser of the two, A Night On The Town, from 1976, solidified the success of Atlantic Crossing, but with a stodgier set of songs, and the final smoothing of the rough edges. That smoothing helped create a couple of massive hit singles in the shape of "Tonight's The Night (Gonna Be Alright)" and "The Killing Of Georgie (Part I and II)", both from the ever diminishing pen of Rod himself. This remastered set comes as a 2-CD edition, with the first one adding in B-side "Rosie". The second set adds in early versions of the whole album and B-side, along with a studio outtake called "Share" and an alternate version of the Beatles tune "Get Back". The earlier versions actually work very well, as they're less polished than the issued ones. However, the album isn't a classic with only the aforementioned "Tonight's The Night…" and "The First Cut Is The Deepest" making the cut on my personal best of Rod.
Moving back nine months (yes only nine months) we have Atlantic Crossing, the last truly essential Rod Stewart album. Despite the cries of sell out and the move to Los Angeles, this album saw the friction between his past and his future creating something a bit special. Some of the songs were recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and even if the Fast Side / Slow Side split doesn't work as well on CD, this still remains a cracker. Now I loathe "Sailing" as much as the next man, but by the time you get there, you've already heard fabulous renditions of "Three Time Loser", "Drift Away", "Stone Cold Sober" and the big, non-Sailing hits, "I Don't Want To Talk About It" and "This Old Heart Of Mine", the latter recorded with the MGs. Not to forget my favourite of them all, the Barry Goldberg / Gerry Goffin song "It's Not The Spotlight". The main album is augmented with an extra instrumental featuring The Atlantic Crossing Drum & Pipe Band playing the "Skye Boat Song", so you may want to hit pause after "Still Love You".
Over on the second disc you could alternate versions of the entire album, along with three outtakes well worth hearing, as Rod takes on covers of the Bee Gee's "To Love Somebody", Lee Dorsey's "Holy Cow" and Elvis Presley's "Return To Sender". If you're someone who wrote Rod Stewart off after his first couple of solo albums, then you really should give this one a chance. It's well worth the price of admission.