The problem with Rhino's 2001 collection The Very Best of Rod Stewart is that it tries to be everything to everyone but is limited not only by its label constraints, but by the very fact that it tries to be comprehensive when it should have been limited. Rhino has open access to the Warner vaults, and Stewart had many, many hits for the label -- nearly two decades' worth, in fact. During those two decades, he was pursuing the shifting tides of pop fashion, delving into disco, new wave, adult contemporary ballads, and retro-rock with equal abandon. That alone would have made a collection of the Warner years difficult to assemble, but it's even harder when the fact that his first few solo albums, all for Mercury, were where many of his signature songs, and nearly all of his widely critically acclaimed recordings, occurred, including "Maggie May." To try to fix this problem, Rhino pulled "Maggie" and "You Wear It Well" from Mercury and randomly placed them in this arbitrarily sequenced 16-track collection, only adding to the confusion that this jumbled running order gives. Even though it's pitched too closely to his late-'80s/early-'90s adult contemporary hits (which perhaps makes sense, since those recordings have yet to appear on a single-disc collection), there aren't any duds, and there will be a certain brand of casual listener who will find quite a lot to like here. But, it does not showcase Stewart at his best, nor does it provide a coherent journey through his greatest singles, even if it does have a great majority of his Top Ten hits (there's no "(I Know) I'm Losing You," "The First Cut Is the Deepest," "Passion," "Infatuation," "I Was Only Joking"). So, even though it may please those who want "Maggie May," "Have I Told You Lately," "Young Turks," "Downtown Train," "Some Guys Have All the Luck," "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)," "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy," and "You're in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)" on one disc, it's a strangely unsatisfying listen.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
feat: Ronald Isley
feat: Ron Wood