Album release: Rod Stewart Rarities
Label: Mercury / Universal
Release date: September 9 2013
Before Rod Stewart became known as a global rock superstar and master interpreter of the Great American Songbook, the albums he made for the Mercury label between 1969 and 1974 established him as one of rock’s most distinctive and expressive singers and gifted songwriters. The five solo albums that Stewart released during that period— The Rod Stewart Album (1969), Gasoline Alley (1970), Every Picture Tells a Story (1971), Never a Dull Moment (1972) and Smiler (1974) —feature a rootsy, folk-blues-leaning style, steeped in traditional soul and R&B. On Rarities, which will be released September 3, 2013 on Mercury / UMe, Stewart’s blend of playful swagger and modest introspection provide a complementary contrast to the raw, boozy rock ’n’ roll that he was recording in his parallel career as frontman of the seminal U.K. quintet Faces.
The brand-new, two-CD, 24-track Rarities, offers a comprehensive selection of alternate versions, non-LP singles, B-sides, studio outtakes and BBC Radio One performances and covers of songs by The Who (Pinball Wizard), Bob Dylan (Girl from the North Country), Gerry Goffin and Carole King (Oh! No Not My Baby, the gender-bending [You Make Me Feel] Like a Natural Man with Jerry Wexler), Jimi Hendrix (Angel), Cole Porter (Every Time We Say Goodbye), Jerry Lee Lewis (What Made Milwaukee Famous [Has Made a Loser Out of Me]), Brewer & Shipley (Seems Like a Long Time) and Stealer’s Wheel (You Put Something Better Inside of Me).
The collection also spotlights alternative takes on such Stewart classics as Maggie May and Elton John/Bernie Taupin’s Country Comfort, recorded with the Faces' guitarist Ron Wood, bassist Ronnie Lane, keyboardist Ian McLagan and drummer Kenney Jones, live for BBC Radio One, both of which are previously unreleased.
Among the two-disc sets other highlights are re-workings of Gasoline Alley’s Bobby Womack by way of Rolling Stones’ It’s All Over Now, in its leaner, edited version released as a single, and two separate versions of Every Picture Tells a Story’s #1 U.S./U.K. hit Maggie May, one an early rendition with completely different, unfinished lyrics, the other a September 1971 performance on BBC Radio One that is available for the first time on an official release. Offering a peak into Stewart’s future successful series of albums extolling the Great American Songbook is a cover of Cole Porter’s Every Time We Say Goodbye,as well as a version of Jerry Lee Lewis’ weepy, honky-tonk lament, What Made Milwaukee Famous [Has Made a Loser Out of Me], originally the non-LP B-side of the single which featured Jimi Hendrix’s “Angel.” Rarities also includes both sides of the 1973 single - credited to Rod Stewart and the Faces - featuring the Goffin/ King-penned Maxine Brown hit Oh! No Not My Baby and the Stewart/Wood/ McLagan collaboration Jodie, co-produced by Stewart and Wood, with Rod backed by Wood, McLagan and drummer Kenney Jones.
As Scott Schinder’s Rarities liner notes put it, “For many serious fans, Stewart’s Mercury years represent his creative peak, and the music that he made during that period retains a special place in the hearts of his admirers.”
Stewart recently released Time, his first rock album in a dozen years, on Capitol Records. The album features 11 original tracks and marks Rod’s return to songwriting after nearly two decades. Time entered the UK Albums Chart at No. 1, setting a new British record for the longest gap between chart-topping albums by an artist - and in the US, it marked Stewart’s highest-charting album of original material since 1979. Most of the release was born during the period he worked on what would later become his internationally best-selling book, Rod: The Autobiography. The collection, Rarities, offers crucial musical insight into his early creative development, and his emergence as a major artist.