It would be fair to say that the ‘80s were not so kind to Rod Stewart (and many of his contemporaries, too). Following his incredibly prolific and successful previous decade was always going to be tough, and although he did enjoy the odd hit single, the bulk of his ‘80s output was and still is dreadful. Foolish Behaviour, Body Wishes, Camouflage, and Every Beat Of My Heart were the worst albums he had ever recorded to that point and their failure to deliver anything even remotely interesting almost spelled the end for Stewart.
He was still writing a few songs for each record back then, but not one of them could even hold a candle to the stellar gems he wrote during his heyday. It wasn’t all bad news on the creative front, though, as out of the six albums he released during the ‘80s, two of them are actually pretty solid.
Tonight I’m Yours (from 1982) found Stewart embracing the synth-pop genre and for the most part, he turned out a pleasing but safe record (it did contain, however, one of his best singles to date, the brilliant “Young Turks.”) The only other decent album from the decade was, of course, 1988’s Out Of Order, which kind of picked up where Tonight I’m Yours left off, albeit in a heavier style.
Rod produced the record with Bernard Edwards and Andy Taylor, who both also played on all of the tracks. There’s no doubt that the boys had a definite plan to make a high energy pop record full of potential hits all in major keys. They did succeed on both accounts, but none of the hits are really that memorable at all, and the moderate success that Rod enjoyed with this record would be eclipsed by his mega-selling 1991 effort Vagabond Heart.
Of the hits, though, easily the best of the bunch is the mid-tempo love song “My Heart Can’t Tell You Know.” Stewart loves a good love song, and this one was a very good choice, as was the decision to cover the old soul classic “Try A Little Tenderness,” which is not a patch on the Otis Redding version but it’s given a nice arrangement and Rod’s voice was still fine enough to do it justice back then.
“Forever Young” was so close in both lyrical content and melody that eventually Stewart agreed to share the credits (and royalties) with Bob Dylan, who had penned the too-similar original way back in the mid-‘70s. The song is a fine pop song, though, and again Rod’s performance is convincing enough. Some of the rockers here are pretty decent, too, with “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out” and “Lost In You” being the standouts.
“Lethal Dose Of Love” is heavier still but a little too close to Robert Palmer’s “Addicted To Love” for my liking, and I still can’t believe that Stewart and Taylor (the song’s writers) didn’t have to cough up and share this one with Palmer as well. “Crazy About Her” and “Almost Illegal” (the latter again by Stewart/Taylor) are more original attempts to rock out they are all the better for it. This album though is not void of crap, and all of the following fall deeply into that category: “Dynamite,” “The Wild Horse,” and “When I Was Your Man” (but that’s the ‘80s for ya.)
Out Of Order is one of Rod Stewart’s more decent albums since his glory days, and although it has dated, it hasn’t done so all that badly and it still gets a semi-regular spin at my joint.