Rod Stewart

The Story So Far: The Very Best of Rod Stewart

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The irony of calling this two-disc Rod Stewart collection The Story So Far is that it only tells part of the story, and leaves off the one song, 1971's magnificent "Every Picture Tells a Story" from the album of the same name, that would have given this anthology's title some real credence. Oh, "Maggie Mae" is here, as it should be, but the version of Tim Hardin's "Reason to Believe" that comes at the end of disc two is an inferior late period re-recording. Most of what you get is the disco and post-disco Stewart when he was well past his sell-by date, and while his Sam Cooke phrasing and rough as sandpaper voice were still well intact during this middle period, one gets the nagging feeling that he was mostly going through the motions, no matter how many of his recordings hit the pop charts. It's the artistic difference between "Maggie Mae" and "Hot Legs." The former feels like a real portrait based on real emotions while the latter feels like a cheap Madison Avenue jingle for women's stockings. One wonders if Stewart can really tell the difference anymore. He knows how to pick a good song to cover, like his version here of Tom Waits' "Downtown Train," and he had a hit with the song, but it doesn't even come close to carrying the emotional power of Waits' original. It could have, and should have, given Stewart's undeniably effective voice, but he coasted on "Downtown Train," and anyone who has heard Waits' version knew it in an instant. This anthology will probably suffice for the casual listener who came to know Stewart during the MTV era, and that's fine, it delivers the hits and touches on Stewart's recent guise as a cultural balladeer, but it doesn't really tell anything close to the whole story. This is a gifted singer who did wonderful work with the Faces and Jeff Beck, and began his solo career in brilliant fashion, and little of that is here. You do get "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?," though, and the distance between that song and "Maggie Mae" is where the real story falls.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 5:46
2 4:43
3 4:33
4 5:04
5 5:31
6 4:19
7 5:15
8 5:01
9 4:13
10 4:39
11 3:58
12
feat: Ronald Isley
4:11
13 4:12
14 4:15
15 3:44
16
feat: Tina Turner
4:12
17
feat: Faces
4:37
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
blue highlight denotes track pick