Friday, 14 September 2018

Rod Stewart - It Had To Be You - The Great American Songbook Volume 1 (2002)


  

Released October 2002

It is impossibly easy to dismiss these albums of crooning covers of songs from the "Great American Songbook" as lazy examples of a once-great artist just putting out cheesy old covers to make some money, appealing to grandmas and totally forgetting the super material he put out in the early seventies. All of that is true, however, I have to say that I sort of agree with it. So many artists do this sort of thing, every Christmas. Some of them are not even "proper" singers, just TV personalities. One thing this has going for it is that is the best of the crop, just. The problem is that Stewart's voice is made for rock or soul covers as opposed to the precision needed for these crooning standards. It all can sound a bit self-satisfied and lazy, to be honest. That is an opinion certainly backed up by the four, yes four, subsequent albums in the series.

Anyway, on to the positives. A few years ago, my Wife and were having dinner with some friends and they played this as the background music. It actually seemed to be perfect in that setting and there have also been the odd late night occasions when I have played it and found it relaxing and enjoyable. The songs, of course, are timeless classics and Stewart delivers them effortlessly and with a certain élan, it has to be said. Of course I prefer the old early seventies stuff, this material should just be viewed separately, for what it is. It is acceptable background music. Maybe that is a sad indictment for an artist with such a history, though.

Highlights are - the lovely "You Go To My Head"; the timeless, romantic "The Way You Look Tonight"; the catchy, singalong "It Had To Be You"; "These Foolish Things" (although I much prefer Bryan Ferry's version); the smoochy "The Very Thought Of You" and the plaintive "The Nearness Of You".

As I said, easy to criticise it. More difficult to admit to enjoying it. Probably, the best of the five albums series too, although there is a case for number five.

C

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