Just for the record: Back to boozy Rod ’n’ roll

Lifestyle

Just for the record: Back to boozy Rod ’n’ roll

FREE TO READ | A fortnightly review of music on vinyl

Andrew Donaldson

Rod Stewart’s been in the news lately. The 74-year-old rocker was the unlikely cover star for the December issue of Railway Modeller magazine, which featured the staggering 38m-by-7m model rail layout the singer had been building in the attic of his Los Angeles home since 1996. The intricately detailed layout depicts the industrial centre of a US city of the 1940s, and contains hundreds of buildings, factories and warehouses surrounding an enormous shunting yard, all in accurate miniature period detail.

Ugly rumours swirled that Stewart did not build the layout himself – a charge that is anathema to hardcore hobbyists – and that he merely had the system installed in his home. Stung, the singer called up a BBC radio station to put paid to this nastiness. “I would say 90% of it I built myself,” he said, “the only thing I wasn’t very good at, and still am not, is the electrics, so I had someone else do that. I started it 23 years ago … I’ve been into it all all my life.”

Fair enough, but what is of concern here is the other stuff that Stewart has been into all his life, a fair bit of which has been collected in the 14-disc CD set, The Studio Albums: 1975-2001 (Warner Brothers). Which we will ignore, not only because it’s not available on vinyl, but because most of it is terrible. The only exceptions would be Stewart’s first two releases for Warners, 1975’s Atlantic Crossing, which featured the stadium-pleasing anthem Sailing, and its successor, 1976’s A Night On The Town. From this point on, sadly, we enter the realm of diminishing returns, as Stewart pursued a career firmly rooted in suburban MOR...

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