Sunday, 16 September 2018

Rod Stewart - Vagabond Heart (1991)

Bring over your old Motown records....


Released March 1991

The eighties had been a pretty barren period for Rod Stewart, with some pretty poor synthesiser-dominated eighties pop albums doing nothing to restore his diminishing reputation. Some synthesised backing still swirls around this album, unfortunately, giving it a slightly tinny sound in places, but it is still undoubtedly such better album than some of its predecessors, notably 1983's "Body Wishes" ,  1984's "Camouflage" or 1986's "Every Beat Of My Heart". 1988's comparatively impressive "Out Of Order" got him back on track, however.


1. The Rhythm Of My Heart
2. Rebel Heart
3. Broken Arrow
4. It Takes Two
5. When A Man's In Love
6. You Are Everything
7. The Motown Song
8. Go Out Dancing
9. No Holding Back
10. Have I Told You Lately
11. Moment Of Glory
12. Downtown Train
13. If Only                                

This was actually a great way to start the nineties. The old Rod Stewart seemed to be back. The opener, the hit single was excellent - the singalong, Caledonian-inspired "Rhythm Of My Heart". All very atmospheric and inspiring. The upbeat, vibrant feel continues with the solid rock of "Rebel Heart" which harks back to the mid-late seventies albums. Stewart is on great vocal form on this album - strong and enthusiastic. The Band's Robbie Robertson's "Broken Arrow" is convincingly covered so much that it seems made for Stewart. The old Motown classic "It Takes Two" is a rousing, ebullient riffy duet with the seemingly ageless Tina Turner.

"When A Man's In Love" is a chugger of a rocker, with some cheesy lyrics and a Springsteen-esque guitar feel to it in places and the cover of Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye's "You Are Everything" is soulful enough, but no real competition to the original. It's ok, however. The next track is a killer, though. "The Motown Song" is a lively, infectious tribute to Motown featuring the Temptations on backing vocals. It has a great hook and just a joie de vivre about it that is irresistible.

"Go Out Dancing" is a bassy, rocking good-time piece of barroom fun. "No Holding Back" is a bit of a synth-pop ballad that drags along a bit too long, to be honest. It does have an anthemic, singalong chorus, however. "Have I Told You Lately" is an excellent cover of the Van Morrison romantic classic, warm and comforting, but "Moment Of Glory" is a slightly embarrassing, grating tale of an unfaithful computer executive who commits his adultery on a night away. It has a searing "Hot Legs" guitar riff but some defining backing vocals that tend to overwhelm the song.

"Downtown Train" is actually a superb, evocative cover of Tom Waits's song, with Stewart on great vocal form. "If Only" is a mournful, but beautifully-delivered lament from a brokenhearted lover to end what was a timely decent album from Stewart. Some would say about time too.


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