Rod Stewart

Blood Red Roses

(Decca)

A new album from The RodFather – as daughter Ruby calls him – and we are not trawling through The Great American Songbook…it’s his 30th studio album. Ten of the cuts are Stewart originals, Kevin Savigar co-produces. Rod’s general philosophy is that he makes records for ‘a few friends’ and it’s a bonus if others like them. A bit different from Stock Aitkin Waterman eh? It means that Stewart can create more personal songs, avoiding sloganeering, automatic beats and Vocoders.

Opening cut Look In Her Eyes almost sounds like vintage David McWilliams, but from the dancey rhythm track, a folky melody taken at a brisk pace with bursts of baroque strings. The vocal is well-recorded and a comfortable key for Stewart. Some thought has gone into the bv’s and the spooky trumpet underlines this as city-at-night music. It’s all rather catchy even if the production is a bit overdone.

Hole In My Heart is punchy American Rock with a tale of a wrecked romance. Again the machine-driven beat places the Rod voice in another world from the push-and-pull attack of The Faces. The bass in very busy pumping the tonic. Again though the voice sounds ace. The guitar is AOR over-eager. The song sounds as though it’s after opening a film. Farwell rides a haunting melody as Rod sings of early nights out in London. The Flamingo and all. I think it could be about Ronnie Lane or Mac? ‘like a brother to me’ Stewart sings. This roam around Soho in song piles on the memories of youth for this writer…Rod used to get us into Faces TV recordings and do requests.

Lead single Didn’t I leads off with reverse delay, Rod sings of times remembered and regretted. It has a cool romantic lope and insistent tempo. Slivers of delayed guitar embellish the roll of the song. A female vocal could be Ruby? I have no personnel notes at time of writing. Title track Blood Red Roses is a gipsy stomp, maybe meant to sound Celtic. It’s a seafaring tale and Rod puts it over with strength and stamina. The banjo and full-on strings make it all sound like a Pogues song, great if that’s your thing but for me the song is overloaded. On to Grace with its twilight-in-the-Hebrides vibe and Rod delivers a suitable tender vocal over a corny, well-worn melody.

Give Me Love takes a disco beat and you expect Donna Summer to start singing. The bassline recalls the Stones’ Miss You. Here the fat strings sound entirely right. My favourite on this collection. It does rather have the feel of a tribute to soul poet Bobby Womack. Rest Of My Life goes vintage MoTown and channels Stewart’s Smokey. It is spirited performance and listenable. Then we get Rollin’ & Tumblin’ with its slide guitar and late-Jeff-Beck arrangement. The band are too stiff to give the blues classic swagger it needs. Julia finds Rod crooning away over a mid-tempo ballad.

Honey Gold starts with acoustic guitar and has a brilliant Stewart performance, mining what makes him such a loved artist. The chorus is hard to resist and indeed why should it be. Fans will adore this recording. Next up Vegas Shuffle has a party-time flavour, lifting the fade from Jumping Jack Flash. Then an AC/DC lift. It’s a relief when closer Cold Old London floats in on strings which to these ears reeks of The Blue Nile. A superior moment.

Whilst I find much of this album over-produced, overloaded it is pleasing to hear Stewart singing with such feeling and power. The best moments are up there with the man’s finest.

A Deluxe edition extends to include Who Designed The Snowflake, It Was A Very Good Year and I Don’t Want To Get Married.

Pete Sargeant



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(Many thank to Henry Evans Harding at MBC for help with this article)

Rod Stewart's 30th studio album 'Blood Red Roses' is out now on Decca.

You can watch the official lyric video for 'Look In Her Eyes' in this article. 

For more information visit his official website here: http://bit.ly/2JK4UvU

In addition, Rod Stewart will embark on a Summer 2019 UK/Ireland Outdoor Stadium Tour. The tour will visit the following town and cities:

 

 

Wednesday 22nd May 2019 -  Ashton Gate Stadium, Bristol, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2xNrMHF

Saturday 25th May 2019 -  Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork, Ireland http://bit.ly/2Nd1vHR

Friday 31st May 2019 - St Mary's Stadium Southampton, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2zHaVHY

Saturday 1st June 2019 - York Racecourse, York, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2xM1S7i

Tuesday 4th June 2019 -  Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2y4T2ka

Friday 7th June 2019 -  Portman Road, Ipswich, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2NbiLNG

Saturday 8th June  2019 -  Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2xM2vxG

Wednesday 12th June 2019 - Outdoors at AECC Arena, Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2IrfOrr

Friday 14th June 2019 -  University Of Bolton Stadium, Bolton, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2NdISDq