Still the Same...Great Rock Classics of Our Time
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2006, Volume 13, #11
Written by John Metzger
Rod Stewart’s return to a rock ’n‘ roll-oriented framework certainly is something to cheer. Though he has penned or co-penned a number of notable nuggets in his career — Maggie May, Every Picture Tells a Story, Mandolin Wind, Gasoline Alley, and Stay with Me, among them — he was equally adept during his heyday in the early ’70s at interpreting the works of Bob Dylan, Bobby Womack, and the Rolling Stones. Unfortunately, in crafting his latest endeavor Still the Same...Great Rock Classics of Our Time, Stewart drew inspiration not from the fiery exuberance of his youth, but rather from his prosaic yet commercially successful romp through pre-rock standards on his four-volume Great American Songbook series.
Throughout Still the Same...Great Rock Classics of Our Time, Stewart is backed by a stellar set of studio vets that include pedal steel wiz Greg Leisz, drummer Kenny Aronoff, guitarist Dean Parks, and bass player Leland Sklar, but producers John Shanks and Clive Davis never allow the ensemble to cut loose. Instead, the backing vocalists merely hint at the gospel power that they could wield, while the musicians simply provide a series of sturdy but tasteful accompaniments to Stewart as he perfunctorily delivers the material. In covering songs by John Fogerty (Have You Ever Seen the Rain), Cat Stevens (Father & Son), John Waite (Missing You), Bob Dylan (If Not for You), and Van Morrison (Crazy Love), Stewart sounds more comfortable than he has seemed in years. Nevertheless, there also is an air of disconnection that pervades the affair, one which undoubtedly is an inauspicious and increasingly prevalent side effect of the Pro Tools era. Granted, the entirety of Still the Same...Great Rock Classics of Our Time is pleasantly innocuous, but Stewart truly needs to ditch the karaoke act and reconnect with his past in order to regain some semblance of his artistic credibility.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box