Something Else! sneak peek: Rod Stewart – Time (2013)

Rod Stewart’s first original studio release in two decades, due on May 7, 2013, via Capitol Records, is aptly titled: Time. Sparked in part by Stewart’s work on a memoir, it’s the sound of someone looking determinedly backward.

That leads to a comfy sense of nostalgia, as Stewart touches all of the bases on a victory lap through a varied career that started with his tenure in the rough-and-tumble Faces before taking a series of detours as a solo artist — from stripped-down balladeer to synthesized disco maven to songbook slickster.

It’s all here, for good or for ill. The sawing fiddle on “Live the Life,” for instance, hints at the rootsy joys of 1971’s “Maggie May.” “Can’t Stop Me Now” and “Make Love to Me Tonight” both have the stamping, cyclic nature of Scottish-inspired Stewart hits like “Ooh La La,” originally recorded in 1973 with the Faces. Stewart hoots and howls on “Finest Woman” with a brio unheard since perhaps “Hot Legs” back in ’77. “Pure Love” is a slower, grayer, sadder version of 1988’s “Forever Young.”

There are moments, too, when Time seems to provide deeper glimpses into his heart’s actual miles. “She Makes Me Happy” is a hooky paean to marital bliss, while “It’s Over” tries to sort through the wreckage as a lengthy union is torn apart. Live long enough, Stewart seems to be saying, and you’ll see both sides.

You wish for more moments of tender honesty like that, times when Stewart peeks out from behind his bleached-coiffed persona. Instead, pleasant enough reminiscences like “Brighton Beach” and “Time” are counterbalanced by the souless misfires of “Beautiful Morning” (with its utterly vacuous MOR groove) and “Sexual Religion” (which, quite frankly, sounds unsettlingly pervy considering Stewart’s advancing age). Of course, any career retrospective would have to include his id-driven Blondes Have More Fun-era debauchery, too. So maybe that’s to be expected.

Worst of all, though, is “Picture in a Frame” — which is so string-soaked and lugubrious that it would have easily found a home on any of the snoozy standards sets Stewart’s been cashing in with over the past decade. I thought we were done with all of that goopy junk.

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Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.
  • http://bloggerhythms.blogspot.com Charlie

    The Rod of his first 4 solo albums was one of my favorite artists, especially Every Picture Tells a Story which is still one of my all time top 10 favorite albums of any genre, period. It makes what he became later all the more distressing.

  • JC Mosquito

    There was a 3 CD Rod Stewart Mercury Years box that came out in 2002 – all 5 albums from before Atlantic Crossing. You also have to remember he was with Faces at this point, who often had members playing on his solo albums, and on tour they would often play songs from both sets of releases. He/They were really churning out the tunes for a few years back in the day.