Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Rod Stewart - Human (2001)


  

Released February 2001

This has traditionally been lambasted by critics as a clumsy, ill-considered attempt by Rod Stewart to "go contemporary" and embrace current programmed r 'n' b stylings (r 'n' b as in polished contemporary soul). It is true that he tried to do that, but in my opinion it was actually quite successful and listenable, the album being nowhere near as bad as many would have you believe. It is far superior to some of the lifeless, synthesised "disco/dance" experiments in the mid eighties, for example. Yes, I understand that recording some typical Rod Stewart songs but giving them a 2001-style chart backing was maybe not the best idea, and he should have stuck with what he does best, but listening to it with an open mind I find that I actually I don't mind it, and I'm not one one for new millennium chart music in any way.

"Human", the title track, despite the admittedly programmed, bass heavy contemporary beat, is actually very catchy, featuring a strong Stewart vocal and some searing industrial guitar at the end which turns into a Santana sound-alike piece. "Smitten" is an appealing and infectious slow number and although "Soul On Soul" is a bit syrupy in its radio-friendly plastic chart soul sound it does have a laid-back appeal, as does the livelier, but similar "Loveless". The duet with "Helicopter Girl", "Don't Come Around Here", is probably the most obvious nod to current chart styles but again, it's ok.

"If I Had You" is quietly and melodically anthemic. Stewart does this sort of thing so well, while "Charlie Parker Loves Me", while lyrically strange, is an atmospheric piece of easy listening, late-night groove with some addictive backing rhythms. "It Was Love That We Needed" features some excellent vocals from both Rod and his female backing singers. It also has some sumptuous, mellifluous guitar parts at the end too. "To Be With You" has Stewart rocking just a little on a mid-tempo ballad and "Run Back Into Your Arms" is beautifully orchestrated and soulful in its vocal delivery.

"Can't Deny It" was a single and it has an instant singalong refrain, not a bad track at all. "Peach" closes the album with some heavy-ish guitar riffage and another catchy chorus. This was certainly nowhere near Rod Stewart's best work. It is nowhere near his worst either. It is very much of its time, however. I'll forgive him though.

C

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