Rod Stewart: Maggie May - The Essential Collection (2-CD)
(Spectrum-Universal) 36 Tracks - Anthology 1964-1995. - Picture This, People.
Rod Stewart's girlfriend, the model Dee Harrington, is in bed asleep in
their Windsor mansion. A noise awakens her. She sits up, discovers that
Rod is not beside her. Somewhat concerned, Dee heads downstairs. As she
gets near to the front room, she starts to hear music. She enters the
room. Rod is sitting cross legged by his record player. He looks up at
Dee and it is obvious that he has been crying. 'Rod?' Dee says. Rod
points at the record playing. 'This record,' he tells her. 'What of it?'
she asks. Rod laughs. 'I don't think I will ever be able to make a
record as good as this.'
Image is all. One associates many things
with Roderick David Stewart. Good times, fun times, flamboyance, a
certain outrageousness, but rarely do we link such naked emotion with
this mercurial singer. And yet if anything has sustained and driven his
remarkable career it is precisely that quality, the desire to create the
best music possible, to find valuable expression within the structure
of the song. Nowhere is this quality more wonderfully displayed than
during Rod's stint as a solo artist with Mercury Records. Yet who
exactly was this man who cried at records and laughed at the world and
exerted such an influence on his generation? Rod Stewart was once a
young man who thought all he had to do was smile. He lived in Archway,
and he played up at school, and he loved football, andhe loved music and
he loved clothes and he sought to bring all three elements together.
And this he did courtesy of his voice, a wondrous voice that was always
recognisably his and his alone.
Rod also had other weapons in his
armoury. He had bags of charm. Bags of an endearing cheekiness. At a
time when pop had been usurped by prog rock, Stewart's down to earth
character, his lack of pretention, and his obvious desire for success
and riches and girls and a big house with flash cars parked outside,
made for the proverbial breath of fresh air. He was the act the girls
loved but the boys adored, the boys who wore button down shirts bunt and
crombies and went into the barbers and asked for a Rod haircut, which
was the 1964 Mod style grown long and thicker.
In interviews and
in his songs, Rod talked about sex and football and getting drunk and
having yourself a real good time, and millions loved him, because every
weekend that is exactly what they tried to do. In Rod, they saw someone
of their own kind, their man, their boy. His musical instincts were as
sharp as his clothes. He knew what songs to cover, how best to cover
them. He brought folkie Dylan to the masses, made him appealing with his
versions of songs such as Girl From The North Country or Only A Hobo.
He covered Hendrix and The Stones, Goffin And King, and he nominated Sam
Cooke as his all-time favourite singer. That made sense. Like Cooke,
Stewart's voice did not go for the all out climatic explosions so loved
by singers such as Otis Redding. His voice was more controlled, more
organic and therefore more restrained and that only added to its depth.
Later on he said David Ruffin of the Temptations was also a major
influence and when on tour in America actually had the butterflies
before being introduced to him. And when you read that you thought, he
is like us, he is a fan at heart.
Stewart sang (very good)
rock'n'roll with a band named The Faces but with
his solo albums he tended to look for more light and shade. His
breakthrough came with his single, Maggie May, which was originally
intended as a b-side before a DJ in America flipped it over and said
this is the song people. And he was right and suddenly Rod was a major
world star, the all conquering hero. His songwriting partner on Maggie
and its superb follow up, You Wear It Well, was a Martin Quittenton but
Rod also brought in Faces partner Ronnie Wood to create other great gems
such as Lost Paraguayos, Every Picture Tells A Story and Dixie Toot.
Perhaps his greatest song in this period, the achingly beautiful
Mandolin Wind, he wrote himself and for that alone we must very
respectfully tip our pork pie hats towards him. Like all great stars he
changed his mind consistently. One minute he was saying he would never
sing a Sam Cooke song, next thing you know he was belting out Twistin'
The Night Away. He said The Faces were as important to him as his solo
work but he always seemed to invest just that little bit more into his
Above all he was a hero, creating landmark albums,
influencing our clothes and our attitudes, bringing joy and fun into our
lives, a great and wondrous thing. But then Hollywood beckoned and he
could not resist its entreaties and we knew he couldn't because what
true Jack the Lad could? A mansion, a model, a swimming pool and
constant sunshine? So he quit The Faces and quit making albums with the
old crew and headed off to begin a whole new chapter in his career. He
had outgrown Britain and would now conquer the world. But what a story
he left behind. (Paolo Hewitt)
Article properties: Rod Stewart: Maggie May - The Essential Collection (2-CD)