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) (last update 5/23/2017)

May 17, 2013

Rod Stewart ~ Unplugged ... And Seated (live)

(Click on heading to visit official website)
Style: pop rock, blues-rock, acoustic, classic rock, live
Label: Warner Brothers
Year: 1993
Home: n/a

Members: Rod Stewart ~ vocals/banjo
Jeff Golub, Jim Creagan ~ guitar
Don Teschner ~ guitar/mandolin/violin
Carmine Rojas ~ bass
Charles Kentiss III ~ piano
Kevin Savigar ~ piano/accordian
Phil Parlapiano ~ accordian/mandolin
Dorian Holley, Darryl Phinnessee, Fred White ~ backing vocals
Marilyn Baker, Haim Shtrum, Mari Tsumura, Jay Rosen, Kwihee Shamban, Miran Kojian, Brian Leonard, Jean Hugo, Joel Derouin, Bruce Dukov, Joseph Meyer, Ronald Clark, Joan Elardo, David Shostac, Norman Ludwin, Drew Dembowski, David Shamban, Suzie Katayama, James Ross, Larry Corbett ~ strings

Guest: Ron Wood ~ guitar

Pumping bass, acoustic guitars of every shape, steady unelaborate drums kick off the show with the classic romp "Hot Legs". It's classic 70's RS time! But, then things move right into a more somber mood with the slow bluesy "Tonight's The Night". It's classic rock RS but expect there's also going to be a lot of crooning more in line with the 80's Vegabond Heart "Forever Young" RS. The result is a fusion of the 70's energized rocker with the 80's soft rocker, of mixed reviews, into a new 90's vibrant RS that isn't trying to recreate the past  nor defy his age but create a loose & fun evening rediscovering old songs & largely ignoring the less memorable 80's hits. Thus comes one of the best MTV Unplugged concerts in my opinion right alongside Eric Clapton & Nirvana. I'd always heard about the vibrant 70's RS who had an amazing live presence, but the 80's soft rock crooner presented a shadow of that reputation. This was the first live album I heard by RS & it introduced me to the RS of my parents generation. Though, unlike Clapton & Nirvana whose acoustic forays became accidental climaxes, RS needs a career boost after disaster album after disaster album & always having an eye for trends jumped right on board. He's doing his best to show the name RS still matters, even hamming it up at times with his banter, but yet it's hard to see this as totally acting but that he really has gotten into the moment & enjoying the nostalgic romp honestly as much as the audience is. It helps that former Faces bandmate Ronnie Wood comes out after the fourth song to man the guitar, which helps keep the vibrant 70's energy upfront & the weak 80's commercialism at bay, let alone its rare to see RS have someone to bounce off of. Yes, RS knew what he was doing inviting back his old bandmate from the Faces, he knew this would reinvent his career the way he needed. Particularly as they hadn't played together in twenty years. Excuse the deliberate nature, the well-planned set list, the backing strings, because it works & is a necessary album for anyone who wants to hear RS at his best. Oh, & excuse the fact that many of these songs originally were heavily acoustic so he's not taken to reinventing himself. But, many of the songs almost sound better here & certainly looser & his voice is raspier. Personally, I consider this the last album of classic RS as he'd never be this nostalgic nor vibrant again. This was also the formal goodbye to the slick RS that is full of RS's worst albums, the most uninspired music & one might be surprised how many albums he put out in the 80's that have gone intentionally forgotten by all parties sans a few songs that survived the garbage heap. What would follow Unplugged ... & Seated was the the under-rated Spanner In The Works, the brit-pop covers album When We Were The New Boys & the dance album Human. These would be would be nice codas, somewhat unmemorable but aging better than one might expect, but music of an artist unable to find a new direction after the high of his acoustic comeback & not wanting to return to the previous music. The later release also suffer from throat troubles that softened his vocal rasp, which some have said made him a better singer technically. Then RS would reinvent himself as the aging jazz & pop singer & cover artist to commercial success but critical failure. It might be one of the greatest facelifts in music become a torchsong balladeer, but the music lacks the vibrancy that made RS famous, let alone might be a pleasant collection of albums for a middle aged man but a lightweight listening that's too contrived & lacking depth. But, for one wonderful minute we have RS sitting in a transition stage & he turned in a classic album that was everything RS wanted & needed & maybe a bit more. He wanted a successful album but got a legacy maker.

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