Saturday, 15 September 2018
Rod Stewart - Stardust - The Great American Songbook Volume 3 (2004)
Released October 2004
For the third October in a row, Rod Stewart released an album in "The Great American Songbook" series. This time on the cover he shows his old cheeky "laddishness" by having a pair of attractive female legs sticking out from behind him as he grins and adjusts his tie. From that, one might expect a bit of cheeky, off the cuff "attitude" to be displayed on the album's material. Not to be. It was more of the same. As The Beach Boys' Mike Love once famously said to Brian Wilson - "don't f*** with the formula. This series had been a huge success of a formula and had a market who wanted more.
My comments for Volumes One and Two apply here. Apologies for repetition but the point remains the same - Stewart was considered by the production team and by the many fans who bought the album to be able to deliver cocktail lounge standards from the "Great American Songbook" with ease. As it was, he delivered them somewhat lazily and awkwardly. His voice was far better suited covering rock, blues, folk and soul, all of which he had covered magnificently in his long career. A great production doesn't necessarily mean that it is a great album.
Some have suggested that the production is a bit lighter and warmer than on this first two albums in the series. Personally, I don't see that. It all sounds the same - slick, polished and highly competent, but Stewart sounds the same - slightly detached and a bit tired and perfunctory. There are, of course some lovely parts on it - the sumptuous trumpet solo on "Stardust" for example and "A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square" is always such an evocative song, whoever sings it. There is a bit more of a jazzy feel on some of tracks, I have to admit, and "Isn't It Romantic" exemplifies that, featuring some infectious percussion and saxophone. Similarly, "I Can't Get Started" has some killer trumpet on the intro. Rod's duet with Dolly Parton on "Baby It's Cold Outside" is absolutely awful, however. I have always loathed the song anyway. Sorry. It's like "Santa Baby" in its execrability.
Look, lots of people enjoy these albums very much and I, who owns them all, does too, up to a point. They are excellent relaxing background music, soothing late night fare and all of them are immaculately played. They are not without good points, it has to be said.
- September 15, 2018