1971 was a great year for Rod Stewart, but I still have conflicted feelings towards him
today at 6:00 am
Wake up, Maggie, I think I got somethin’ to say to you
It’s late September and I really should be back at school
I know I keep you amused, but I feel I’m being used
Oh, Maggie, I couldn’t have tried any more
I’m conflicted about Rod Stewart. I love the music of the 60’s-early 70’s Rod. But then I hear disco Rod and just shake my head. Confliction!
I see Rod doing interviews and love how funny he is, usually at his own expense. Then I hear one of his standard tunes, realize he’s done three albums of them and just shake my head. Confliction!
I love how much time he’s given and how much money he’s raised for cancer charities (he’s a two-time cancer survivor), but then I hear one of his Christmas songs and I just shake my head. Confliction!
Two of Rod’s biggest albums turn fifty years old in 2021. “Every Picture Tells A Story” was released in May of 1971. It received some wonderful reviews. Lots of five stars. Rolling Stone magazine ranked it number 173 in its list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time. It also was a big moneymaker. It sold more than 1,700,000 records, achieving platinum album status.
It also has one of the legendary classic rock songs. Fifty years later, “Maggie May” is still great. When you hear the guitar intro, you know you aren’t changing the radio station for the next five minutes. It’s also likely, you’ll join in with Rod and start singing the lyrics that are still seared into your brain after fifty years. That’s a great thing. How many songs can you say that about?
As for the rest of the album, side one is pretty dull, but when you flip over the vinyl and get “Maggie May, “Mandolin Wind”, “I’m Losing You” and “Reason To Believe” on side two, you’ll find Rod at his best. Maybe that’s why the vinyl was better than the eight-track or cassette version of this record. You could go right to the great stuff!
Six months later, Rod was at it again. The band, Faces, released “A Nod Is As Good As A Wink To A Blind Horse.” What a great, underrated fivesome of musicians these guys were. Ronnie Wood on guitar, Ronnie Lane on bass, Kenney Jones on drums and Ian McLaglan on keyboards were legends. The gravelly voice of Rod Stewart topped it off.
The album received some good reviews, but not nearly as good as the Stewart solo album of six months earlier. It also has good sales. It was certified as a Gold album, but again not as good as Rod on his own. This record also has the one hit song that you can still hear on a regular basis fifty years later. “Stay With Me” became a hit single and like “Maggie May”, when you hear the searing opening guitar from Woody, you aren’t going anywhere. Most likely, you’re playing air guitar with him.
However, on the whole, “A Nod…” doesn’t hold up well fifty years after its release. Besides “Stay With Me”, only “Miss Judy’s Farm” and a cover of “Memphis” held my interest. Maybe if you put these three together with side two of “Every Picture…”, you’d have one great album that you would still listen to half a century later….maybe.
Back to my Rod confliction….in the late 1980’s I was living in Southern California and some friends came out to visit. We went to Beverly Hills, got one of those maps of the star’s homes and went on a star tour. We found Rod’s home and pulled into his gated driveway. As I started to back out, two dogs ran out and started barking. They were followed by Rod’s then-wife, supermodel Rachel Hunter. I guess she just wanted to see what the fuss was all about.
That’s how I like to think about Rod. “Maggie May”, “Stay With Me”, two dogs and Rachel Hunter as opposed to “Do You Think I’m Sexy” and Rod having himself “A Merry Little Christmas. See?? Conflicted!!!
In the mornin’ don’t say you love me,
‘Cause I’ll only kick you out of the door
I know your name is Rita ’cause your perfume’s smellin’ sweeter
Since when I saw you down on the floor.
*Song lyrics from “Maggie May” and “Stay With Me”
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