Rod Stewart

1964-1969

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This double CD purports to assemble "every Rod Stewart recording from the '60s with the exception of his own work with the Jeff Beck Group." It doesn't seem 100 percent certain that the compilers managed to do so, but even if they didn't, the 30 tracks on these discs must represent virtually everything Stewart did in the 1960s aside from those Jeff Beck Group tracks, and aside from his solo debut album (which is usually given the release date of 1969 in discographies). As with David Bowie, there's a sense of a talented singer who took a long time to find his musical identity and secure first-rate material. Don't, nonetheless, think this disc is meaningless trivia; the music's good to not bad, although the 1964-1966 cuts are usually somewhat routine R&B numbers, assembled from a 1964 single as part of Long John Baldry & the Hoochie Coochie Men; his 1964 solo debut single for Decca; various 1964 soul/blues demos; his rather attractive late-1965 orchestrated pop single for Columbia; the demo cuts he sang on with Steampacket; his third Columbia single ("Shake"); and his lone track with Shotgun Express. Post-1966, Stewart really starts to come into his own, with richer, grittier vocals and harder blues-rock arrangements, again in a wide assortment of contexts: his 1967 soul-pop single "Little Misunderstood"; the 1967 vocal duet with P.P. Arnold, "Come Home Baby"; a performance fronting the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation; the songs he sang on with Python Lee Jackson, including the famous "In a Broken Dream"; a track with the GTO's; and, finally, two demos done in 1969 with Art Wood's Quiet Melon, an aggregation that grew into the Faces. The whole lot is accompanied by a 48-page booklet that has an interesting, lengthy interview with early Stewart associate Long John Baldry.

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