Those who may have known me back in the day will probably acknowledge that I used to be a big fan of Mr Stewarts music of that there is no doubt.
The first time I heard one of his records it was of course “Maggie May” in 1971, I wasn’t one of the smart dudes who listened to hundreds of obscure bands in the 1970s just so that when they emerged with their one hit wonder you could smarmily tell everyone “Of course I’ve known about them for AGES”, it was chart music that ruled our senses at 14 years of age and so I went out and bought the single.
My rule of life in those days was that if you liked a song you’d go and buy the single (price 50p) and then if you found that you liked the B side too you’d sell the single to Rodney the Medic (not a Medic at that time, just a regular, if very small, schoolboy) for the same 50p that you;d paid (even though you’d played and scratched it to hell) and then go and buy the album.
So after I’d heard the rest of the “Every Picture tells A Story” album sat on the bed in our Rays bedroom after our Grandmothers funeral I sold the Maggie May single to Rod the Medic and went and invested £2.50 of my hard earned program selling money, and was hooked, there isn’t a bad track on that album and I’d still recommend it to anyone, thats ANYONE.
Then I went backwards down the timeline of where Mr Stewart had come from, I bought the “Gasoline Alley” album which, in my humble opinion, is even better the EPTAS, and which I’d still recommend to EVERYONE, “An Old Raincoat” took me back even further, its a bit weird but I still love its weirdness, its not on the recommended list but still – I even bought a Long John Baldry album and a couple of Jeff Beck albums because Mr Stewart had sung with both of those bands too – and then went sideways and discovered Bob Dylan, for on those early Rod Stewart albums there was always a compulsory Dylan ballad, ALWAYS.
And of course there was The Faces to track back for at the same time that Mr Stewart was releasing solo work he was still recording with them, “Long Player” and “First Step” were added to the record album wire rack underneath the radiogram.
And then with the full back catalogue in place we went forward, financed entirely by selling programs at the rugby and scorecards at the cricket I purchased with my own graft and money “Never A Dull Moment”, “A Nods As Good As A Wink”, “Smiler”, “Ooh La la”, “Atlantic Crossing”, “A Night On The Town”, the record collection was by now reaching an impressive storage requirement and I was left school and working at a full time job and still a fan, still cut my own hair, still used copious amounts of my mothers Sylvicrin hairspray to give my flowing locks the Rod Stewart look until my flowing locks flowed no more and fell out of my head to never return, I blame the Sylvicrin but looking at my brother and one of my cousins (the other one is clearly not of our genes) it appears to be genetic (or they were using Sylvicrin too), so lets blame Richard Atkinson then.
A couple of further albums were added but something had gone, something had changed, Mr Stewart was by now living in Los Angeles and was producing disco shite for the LA nightclub scene of the 1980s, gone were the exquisitely written ballad and rock lyrics, gone were the collaborations of Stewart/Wood/Lane, gone were the compulsory Dylan tunes replaced instead by disco crap, tunes you can’t whistle to unless you want to appear a maniac in your high street when trying to whistle them in broad daylight, Mr Stewart had gone crap, and worse was to come, I stopped buying his output and took to just shaking my now hairless head in pity when one of his tunes was played by too-enthusiastic radio presenters who thought that all you had to do was roll up the sleeves of your suit jacket to look as if you lived in Miami or LA instead of Milton Keynes.
During the past four decades Mr Stewart has kept working for the sake of large alimony’s and tax bills, but devoid of any creativity he was produced nothing worthy of listening to at all and if we thought that “the Great American Songbook” albums were the very bottom of a devoid pit then we were mistaken for then came “Still The Same” a full album of covers that were absolutely annihilated by his one key almost spoken refrains, its a shockingly bad album and the only reason I can think of for having released it is another wedding to pay for for its artistic quality is zero – I won;t even mention “Merry Christmas Baby” for that was a christmas album and every singer eventually has to have one of those if only to show how desperate they are for income at this expensive time of year.
And so its fair to say that for many years now I had written off Mr Stewart, I still listen to his 60s and 70s stuff, its still worth listening to in the same way that its still worth buying a 60s Ford Mustang rather than the current version, until now.
For now, amazingly, Mr Stewart has taken a retrospective look at his life and probably come to agree with me that he’s been tossing it off since 1978 and not produced anything worth of critique since then, so allegedly (for I still have not heard the album) he has sat down and written an albums worth of his own compositions which is released anytime now – the single (above) is a damn fine song and if the rest of the album is likened to it then it will be worthy of my own personal investment using my very own money, I look forward to the first listening with the same sort of expectation that I did when I was a mere stripling of 14 years, with hair.
As wonderful as Mr Stewart’s “Its Over” is, I just can’t get this version out of my head, the finale of the wonderful film “Little Voice” and Ray Say’s finest moment at the Cayton Bay Rendevous Club …