Saturday, 15 September 2018

Rod Stewart - As Time Goes By - The Great American Songbook Volume 2 (2003)


  

Released October 2003

Almost a year to the day since Rod Stewart released the first of this somewhat ill-conceived series of covers of "easy listening" crooning standards, he released more of the same. There was no change in the method whatsoever - more cocktail lounge, slickly orchestrated backing, and Stewart's not really suitable for these songs voice. His seventies covers of rock songs like The Rolling Stones' "Street Fighting Man" or The Small Faces' "My Way Of Giving" were classics of their type, showing just how versatile Stewart's voice was. Here, though, it is not so apparent. He doesn't have a Sinatra or Bennett type of voice, so the concept is essentially a bit flawed.

That said, there is definitely a huge market for it (the albums sold very well) and it certainly makes pleasant background music. A slight change from the first album in the series is that there are a couple of duets - with Cher (an odd choice) and Queen Latifah. Stewart's seemingly ad hoc asides may suit a spur of the moment "live" sounding rock or soul cover but on these songs they sound contrived, clumsy, awkward and not a little embarrassing. "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" has always irritated me. It does even more here. "Time After Time" sounds lazy as indeed does the lovely song that is "I'm In The Mood For Love". The latter's sumptuous saxophone backing saves it, however. A similar effect is to be had from the saxophone on "Until The Real Thing Comes Along". "Where Or When" has always been a lovely song. Bryan Ferry does it better, mind you. "My Heart Stood Still" is a nice one too.

So, Stewart survives, riding the smooth waves of the lush instrumentation, which it has to be said is immaculate, so nobody really notices. The people who like the concept will like it anyway, so where's the problem?

C-

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