The Rod Stewart Sessions 1971-1998

Rod Stewart

Rhino, 2009

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


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

The Rod Stewart Sessions 1971-1998 box set has just been released. My first reaction was those were good years to choose, since they avoid his forays toward an easy listening sound, which has already been captured on four volumes of The Great American Songbook. While that style has been commercially successful, it is a little tepid in my opinion, and far removed from Stewart as a rock ‘n’ roll icon of the 1970’s.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

This four-disc, 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 as Rod Stewart & 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, adding up to a lot of recording sessions, which in turn left dozens of tracks unused, as this box set demonstrates.

There is a lot to be heard 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, however.

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

Rating: B+

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