Rod Stewart's Atlantic Crossing saw its release in 1975, his first on Warner Brothers records. After a run of soulful rock albums with Mercury, the album marks the point where Stewart forsook his place as a rock classicist for superstar fluff. The intensity of his earlier albums is gone. His voice remains remarkable, but the overall vibe has relaxed to the point where the music is unfocused. The album's ten tracks are divided in half, with a "fast half" (which isn't so much fast as meandering) and a "slow half" (where Stewart's magical handling of balladry provides a fairly strong finish).
The new limited edition two-disc reissue offers a chance at redemption. In addition to a bevy of bonus cuts, the entire tracklist is repeated as in alternate versions. Since the whole album feels like a gooey soft-rock confection, blending together into one generic mass, I hoped the alternate versions would possibly restore some of the earlier Stewart artistry. Turns out the alternate versions are basically simply different mixes (often with a slightly longer duration). While they are somewhat less polished, usually with Stewart's voice more prominent in the mix, only fanatics are likely to be thrilled by their inclusion.
Atlantic Crossing is an ultra-commercial piece of product. There are minor pleasures to be found throughout, as the entire project is actually very easy on the ears. Kicking off the album, "Three Time Loser" practically sounds like classic Stewart. Later on, the Steve Cropper collaboration "Stone Cold Sober" is an agreeable bit of good-time rock'n'roll. In fact, the alternate version in this case is truly a different take on the song. Presented with a working title, "Too Much Noise," this version presents the song as a more straight-forward rocker.
A cover of "This Old Heart Of Mine" is the highlight of the ballads, especially in the alternate take with Stewart backed up by The MG's. In fact, the bonus tracks include a trio of excellent covers featuring laid-back, soulful backing from The MG's. The Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody" features one of Stewart's strongest vocals on the entire reissue and should've made the final cut. Allen Toussaint's "Holy Cow" is nearly as good. A re-working of Elvis Presley chestnut "Return To Sender" is less striking, but entertaining nonetheless.
All things considered, this reissue is easily recommendable to Rod Stewart junkies. But for general fans, get all the earlier albums (as well as the Faces albums) first. Then proceed with caution. Atlantic Crossing isn't worthy of this lavish treatment, but it certainly tries to give fans their money's worth. The remastered sound is strong and the liner notes are extensive.