Loosen off that pretty french gown....
Released June 1976
Recorded in the USA
Of the albums released after Rod Stewart "sold out" and became a somewhat preposterous, preening superstar, this is by far my favourite. I prefer it to the incredibly successful predecessor "Atlantic Crossing". It is packed full of excellent, riffy rock songs and big rock ballads of the sort that Stewart did so well.
1. Tonight's The Night
2. The First Cut Is The Deepest
3. Fool For You
4. The Killing Of Georgie (Parts 1 & 2)
5. The Balltrap
6. Pretty Flamingo
7. Big Bayou
8. The Wild Side Of Life
9. Trade Winds
First up is the sensual, seductive majesty of "Tonight's The Night" with Rod going all lecherous as he tells his innocent young companion just exactly how good her night is going to be. It is ludicrously corny, of course but I can't help but love it. The original recording had Rod's squeeze at the time, Britt Ekland, sighing and cooing all over the end part. Subsequent releases have deleted it out, which was a shame as the vocals added a certain erotic atmosphere. "The First Cut Is The Deepest" is an absolutely stonking cover of Cat Stevens' tender original. Stewart turns it into a soulful anthem. "Fool For You" is a romantic tribute to a lover, with Rod preferring her to Streisand, Bardot and Loren. This is very much a typical mid-seventies Rod Stewart melodic organ-driven ballad.
"The Killing Of Georgie" is a remarkable song. A slow tempo, moving narrative about a friend of Stewart's killed (possibly) for being gay in the mid-seventies in New York. It may seem strange now, but a song like this was genuinely ground-breaking in 1976. Songs treating homosexuals sympathetically were extremely thin on the ground. Stewart's song was extremely tender and sensitive, coming from such a "lad". Fair play to him at the time.
The old "side two" was the "fast" side, for a night out. It is full of classic Stewart rock. "The Balltrap" is a pulsating tale about having continual sexual encounters with the same woman, who has poor old Rod by the balls, it would seem. Manfred Mann's "Pretty Flamingo" is covered soulfully in true Stewart style, not detracting from the original in any way. "Big Bayou" is a pounding, horn-driven Stewart original rocker and "The Wild Side Of Life" is given a barroom honky-tonk makeover.
"Trade Winds" ends on a slow tempo note with a captivating ballad ending in a big singalong chorus. In many ways this is a commercial album that gets critically-ignored, which is a shame as it has hidden depths. A quick half hour of this every now and again is good for you.