Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Rod Stewart ~ Still The Same: Great Rock Classics

(Click heading to visit official website.)
Style: hard rock, country
Label: J Records
Year: 2006

Home: Los Angeles, California

Members: Rod Stewart ~ vocals
Dean Parks, Tim Pierce, John Shanks ~ guitars
Leland Sklar, Paul Bushnell ~ bass
Patrick Warren, Jamie Muhoberac ~ keyboards
Kenny Aronoff ~ drums
Lenny Castro ~ percussion
Julia Waters, Maxine Willard Waters, James Grundler ~ backing vocals

The problem with this album is not the music, which is better than expected, but in what I remember Rod Stewart doing in the past. I grew up inheriting my mom's Rod Stewart album collection, which I later added to, & loved singing along with his trademark rasp wanting a voice like his & the ability to write such great songs. I even learned "Maggie May" on guitar. I loved it all from the Small Faces to "Do You Think I'm Sexy". Still The Same lacks the punch of those old songs. It's a commercial appeal cluttered with unnecessary layers while Stewart's voice no longer has the range or the rasp. Of course, part of this is from his 2000 cancer operation & natural aging. I don't have a problem with that. The Rod Stewart I know has always been old. I don't remember the wild young rocker my mom would tell me stories about, explaining the meaning behind his Unplugged & Seated. I grew up with an already mellow 80's MTV rocker with such softer hits as "Forever Young", "Rhythm Of My Heart" & "This Old Heart Of Mine". I loved his Unplugged ... & Seated. But, after that something changed. I'm reminded of Eric Clapton who also hit a peak with Unplugged only to follow it with albums that were a shadow of himself. It's as if Stewart & Clapton didn't get the youthful audience they wanted so gave up on trying & settled back into adult friendly soft soulless rock. I like a few songs from Stewart's Human & recommend the under-appreciated Unplugged follow-up A Spanner In The Works, but the jazz albums that followed remind me too much of Kenny G ... jazz for non-jazz fans or passive jazz with no personality. I give Stewart kudos for reinventing himself for his aging fans like noone has done before, something just beginning to be imitated by Robert Plant &, though younger, Jewel with her reinvention as a country singer. In terms of reinvention this album is a welcome addition, in terms of Rod Stewart classic rocker this is just another declining moment while some of us wait for him to do what he does best. The song collection is superb, including: Creedance Clearwater Revival ("Have You Ever Seen The Rain?"), Elvin Bishop ("Fooled Around & Fell In Love"), The Pretenders ("I'll Stand By You"), Bob Seger ("Still The Same"), Bonnie Tyler ("It's A Heartache"), Badfinger ("Day After Day"), John Waite ("Missing You"), Cat Stevens ("Father & Son"), Eagles ("The Best of My Love"), Bob Dylan ("If Not for You"), Nazareth ("Love Hurts"), Bread ("Everything I Own") & Van Morrison ("Crazy Love"). While Stewart turns in a great, if not excellent, performance which is far more comfortable & relaxed than his jazz outings. I've always thought that after his operation he lost some of the rasp & became a technically better singer, but for me the rasp also equalled soul. He lost some soul & the music doesn't offer any. Still The Same might be named after a Bob Seger song but ends up being a description of the predictability & facelessness of the music. Decades ago Stewart would have wrapped himself up in these songs & made them his own, but here he sounds like he's a session singer called in for another anoymous gig. He's lost his soul & personality. What I found particularly suprising is the country flavor that underlies some of the songs. Maybe this is where he's going down the road? He did jazz, more jazz, more jazz, more jazz, rock, Motown & soul, even more jazz, why not country? Albeit, I'd prefer the blues, which is where Stewart started from. This is an album targeted for those too old to rock ... folks who tell their kids about Jefferson Airplane but don't play them the music because they believe their music is out of dated or their too old to share in the listening pleasure ... forgetting that great music is timeless & for any generation, let alone it keeps youth alive inside. If you're interested in hearing what the older Stewart can do but isn't doing hunt up A Spanner In The Works. It's a warm & personal album with a great collection of soft rock songs covering a ranging of styles but never letting the mood down & it reeks of personality. & when Stewart sings an ode to past musicians ("Muddy, Sam & Otis") you believe he means every word ... considering he co-wrote the song he very well might ... while on Still The Same he's just, well ... many critics have called these days Stewart's night out at karaoke. I hate to agree, but I understand.


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