Rod Stewart takes a break here from his American Songbook albums of pop standards to deliver cover versions of a variety of classic rock songs. The recordings are professional, comfortable, and will have appeal to many casual rock fans. However, it is impossible to avoid a feeling that it's all a bit too laidback and lazy. That whiff of money in the air is the aroma of Rod Stewart cashing in.
Pour a Glass of Wine or Grab a Beer, Sit Back and Enjoy
The song choice here is impeccable. Every tune is an undisputed classic. The arrangements are close to the originals, Rod Stewart is in fine voice, and right out of the package this album fits like an old comfortable pair of jeans.
You can practically hear the wink in Rod's voice on Elvin Bishop's "Fooled Around and Fell in Love." His version of "It's a Heartache," originally a hit for Bonnie Tyler when she sounded like a female version of Stewart, gives a perfect sense of being resigned to fate. The accusatory tone makes "Still the Same" more biting than Bob Seger's original, and Rod Stewart's version of Van Morrison's "Crazy Love" brings back memories of his masterful take on Morrison's "Have I Told You Lately."
Could It Have Been Better?
Listening straight through Still the Same...Great Rock Classics of Our Time is an enjoyable experience, yet there is still plenty of room for making a merely good album a truly great one. Too many of the performances here fail to add anything to the original recording, and you won't hear Rod Stewart try anything different with his voice. I suspect that the American songbook series was put on hold due to the fact the albums were all starting to sound the same. Here we have a different genre of song, but ennui is starting to settle in after the very first album of this approach. However, Rod Stewart obviously has a legion of fans that just want to hear him sing familiar songs. If you listen very closely, you may even hear the far off sound of cash registers scanning sales of this latest collection.
Top Tracks on 'Still the Same...Great Rock Classics of Our Time'
- Fooled Around and Fell in Love
- Still the Same
- It's a Heartache
- The Best of My Love
- Crazy Love
Next Step for Rod Stewart?
At age 61, Rod Stewart is as popular as he has ever been. 4 American Songbook collections of pop standards have sold a combined total of over 8 million copies. Expect this new set of rock songs to sell just as well. However, is Rod Stewart, the gifted storytelling songwriter, gone for good? Will he content himself with simply recording gravelly versions of well-known pop songs for years to come?
Rod Stewart gave us the definitive tale of young male sexual naivete in "Maggie May." He then delivered the confusion between expectations from the stage and personal life on "I Was Only Joking." Later years brought revelatory songs about aging gracefully such as "Forever Young." Let's hope Stewart musters the energy to take up the writing pen once again to help serenade his generation through steps forward in the days ahead.