Sir Rod Stewart
BLOOD RED ROSES
Every Song Tells a Story and Then Some.
Is a new Rod Stewart album still something to be celebrated and get excited about? Hmm; as a fan for well over 40 years I did still got a little tingle of excitement when this package arrived (a couple of days after the release date due to an ‘administrative error’) but more than a touch of a apprehension too, as his output this century has been patchy, to say the least.
Human, in 2001 started things off so well, and Mrs Magpie is still partial to a couple of songs from it, and it was a similar story with TIME too, but those covers album? Nah; and as for the Great American Songbook Vol’s 1 – 57? They sure ain’t for this old Mod.
So without comparing and contrasting with his classics that helped change Rock music in the 70’s where does his 31st studio album, BLOOD RED ROSES fit into Sir Roderick’s canon of work?
Let’s find out shall we?
Opening track Look In Her Eyes is actually a very good song, that needs less Bass n Drums and more guitar to give it the oomph that the lyrics and melody deserve.
Hole In My Heart, which follows is more like it with Rod giving it his all on a cracking rocker of a song about loving and losing; and the Blues Brotheresque horn section ain’t half bad too on the choruses.
The clever lead single Didn’t I is quite fascinating; as it’s about a father talking about the perils of the Rock n Roll lifestyle to a daughter that is on the verge of a wayward life; but you can tell he is troubled by the hypocrisy in his own words as she fights for her life in a hospital bed. Not for the only time on this record; I’d love to hear an acoustic version of this song.
Obviously there are a couple of now obligatory Irish/Celtic folk songs; with Grace being a delightful and windswept love song, but the title track Blood Red Roses is sure to be a showstopper on the Live Tour especially when (I guess) a troupe of River Dancers come on stage; but hmmmm….it sure ain’t Rock & Roll, is it?
At times the songs can be ‘Rod by Numbers’ with Give Me Love sounding like it’s an out-take from Blondes Have More Fun, and Rest Of My Life and Farewell both sounding like something he’s written before, dusted off and basically just tarted up…… but Mrs Magpie actually loves the latter, which is about a great friend/relative from his youth who is no longer with us (about a friend called Ewan Dawson and not Ronnie Lane as I first thought).
But; when he puts his mind to it Rod can still be the electrifying Rod Stewart we all love and adore. Honey Gold; about an intriguing yet unnamed young woman who, again, has the essence of Killing of Georgie running through it and should have been the lead single; and still has the time to rack up quality radio plays across the whole Western World.
Possibly drawing on the Great American Songbook days; the beautiful ballad Cold Old London which closes the disc is very theatrical in construction and one of the few of his songs with a full orchestral backing that I will admit to liking.
Then, while not exactly groundbreaking Rest of My Life is as good a Love Song as our man has recorded in 30 odd years and doesn’t just get you tapping your toes but it will put a zing in your heart too! Plus, it’s now Mrs Magpie’s Favourite Song here.
My own Favourite song here is an either/or between the ‘obvious,’ Muddy Water’s Rollin’ and Tumblin’ which I last heard on Full Cream; and shows that even now; Rod still has great taste when it comes to covering songs (more like this please next time!) and the lovely and wistful story of unrequited teenage love Julia (14 to Rod’s 10 years)……funny how these things come back to us, isn’t it?
It’s a ‘given’ for a fan like me to think that everything here is a little bit over-produced with some weird Disco-Bass and electro backbeat combos distracting from Rod’s voice and his really well written and constructed songs; even if Mrs. Magpie vehemently disagrees (as usual!).
If I give it time, like my wife has and actually will, BLOOD RED ROSES will definitely grow on me in a way very few from the last 35 years has ever managed, so I will place it on the shelf next to Human and Foolish Behaviour.
Released September 28th 2018