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Music Review: Rod Stewart – The Rod Stewart Sessions 1971-1998

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I have found the solo Rod Stewart to have been brilliant (1970s), very good at times (1980s- 1990s), and tremendously popular but inconsequential (2000s). I am now adding interesting to the Rod Stewart list of definitions.

The Rod Stewart Sessions 1971-1998 box set has just been released. My first reaction was those are good years as it avoids his forays toward an easy listening sound which have been captured on four volumes of The Great American Songbook. They have been commercially successful but a little tepid in my opinion and far removed from the rock ‘n’ roll icon of the 1970s.

This four CD, 65 track set is a nice addition to his catalogue and legacy. It is not a regurgitation of previous material but instead is comprised of alternate versions of many of his well known songs, some unreleased and polished gems, and a number of unfinished or abandoned tracks. As previously stated it all adds up to an interesting listen.

Roderick David Stewart began his career way back in 1962 as a short time member of the Ray Davies Quintet and then Rod Stewart and The Moonrakers. Stints with The Jeff Beck Group, and Faces led to a long and distinguished solo career and enshrinement in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. His number one 1971 album, Every Picture Tells A Story, with songs such as “Maggie May,” “Mandolin Wind,” and “Reason To Believe” remains one of the definitive releases of its era.

Rod Stewart released close to twenty albums between 1971 and 1998 and that adds up to a lot of recording sessions which in turn left dozens of tracks unused as this box set shows.

There is a lot here. There are acoustic versions of “You’re In My Heart” and “The Great Pretender,” alternate versions of “First Cut Is The Deepest,” “Maggie May,” and “Girl From The North Country,” piano versions of “Forever Young” and “In My Life,” plus a plethora of unreleased material such as “Maybe Baby,” “I’m A King Bee,” “A Good Lover Is Hard To Find,” “Thunderbird,” and “The Wheels On Fire.” Of particular note is a remake of the old Python Lee Jackson song, “In A Broken Dream” which features David Gilmour, John Paul Jones, and Nick Lowe. These songs are only the tip of the iceberg.

The Rod Stewart Sessions 1971-1998 is a nice romp through the musical world of Rod Stewart that never was until now. It should please his vast fan base as it fills in a lot of blanks in his career. As such it is an essential addition to his vast and impressive catalogue.

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About David Bowling

  • http://whatwouldmargochanningdo.blogspot.com/ Kate Shea Kennon

    Hi David: You are so right that he was brilliant back in the Mandolin Wind days, but he wasn’t good or inconsequential in follow-up. The days of “Do you think I’m sexy” are unforgivable. As are the current Songbook discs which he stole from Bryan Ferry while bringing nothing new except the need for more alimony payments. To quote High Fidelity: “is it in fact unfair to criticize a formerly great artist for his latter day sins?” No, it’s not unfair, but thanks for the review anyway!