Rod Stewart

Sweet Little Rock N Roller

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The years -- from 1969 to 1974 -- that Rod Stewart spent with Mercury Records found him at the very top of his game as a singer, writer, and arranger, and the five LPs he recorded for the label during this timespan all balance brilliantly between a soulful, loose rawness and carefully planned arrangements that merge with an immediacy that Stewart never came close to achieving again after he left the label. Several of Stewart's most inspired tracks, including the garbage can rumblings of "Cut Across Shorty," the fragmented but still somehow epic-feeling "Every Picture Tells a Story," and a beautiful version of Jimi Hendrix's "Angel," among others, are collected in this nicely paced set. It doesn't tell the whole Mercury story, though, since there are a lot of essential songs, like "Maggie May" and "Mandolin Wind," to name just two, that aren't found here, but what is included gives a nice glimpse at how good this guy really was once upon a time.

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