Sunday, 16 September 2018

Rod Stewart - Footloose & Fancy Free (1977)


  

Released November 1977

This was perhaps the last completely credible Rod Stewart album for many a year. The firs five had been excellent, the two "American" ones - "Atlantic Crossing" and "A Night On The Town" were more than acceptable. This was another one recorded since he became a Transatlantic superstar and the quality was still pretty good, just about holding on in there. Critically, I have seen it regularly panned as a lazy, complacent offering. I have to beg to disagree here. The next album meets that description, but this one, in my opinion, still has a lot to offer.

It includes two copper-bottomed Rod Stewart anthems - the evocative "I Was Only Joking", with its killer acoustic guitar solo from Jim Cregan and the paean in praise of a lover "You're In My Heart", which, although somewhat cheesy in places, is also totally infectious and endearing. "The big-bosomed lady with the Dutch accent who tried to change my point of view.." was a great line.  A slow, soulful cover of Millie Jackson's "If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don't Want To Be Right)" is impressive.  The one track that doesn't convince me on the album is the strangely slowed-down cover of Diana Ross & The Supremes' "You Keep Me Hangin' On". For some reason it has never done it for me. It sounds clumsy. The experimentation is interesting, but flawed. Its Deep Purple-esque organ intro and rock guitar riff doesn't fit this particular track at all. It is also, at over seven minutes, way too long. He would have done better covering it straight.

"You're Insane" is a grinding piece of funk-rock with an industrial-sounding guitar and a bluesy rhythm. This is Stewart on Faces-style rocking form, which is good to hear. "Born Loose" is another solid, upbeat rocker which owes more than a passing nod to The Rolling Stones' "Star F*****" in both its melody, pace and its slightly risqué lyrics. The line "I wanna get a belly full of beer" comes directly from old mate Elton John's "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)". The track finishes with a bit of "Midnight Rambler" guitar and harmonica interplay.

Everyone knows saucy old Rod's "Hot Legs". Again, it is corny and contrived, but it rocks, it has to be said, with some great guitar and vocals. There is a great, little-mentioned Stewart gem in the atmospheric and haunting, folky ballad "You Really Got A Nerve". This is certainly no self-satisfied track, it is as good as anything he recorded in the 1974 period onwards.

Overall, this is an underrated album and deserves more than the occasional listen. Things got considerably worse from now on, remember.

B-

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