The Rod Stewart Collection
Art in Song: The Voice of Rod Stewart
For followers of Rod Stewart, the 2013 release of new material by the aging rocker must have seemed like a heavenly gift. It hadn't happened in almost 20 years, thus ensuring that his album Time would be snapped up PDQ.
In the UK, the BBC were also quick to celebrate this latest body of music in its arts series, Imagine. This one off documentary-style series of conversations, subtitled Rod Stewart: Can't Stop Me Now, took the viewer on a fifty-year journey into the singer's colourful past and musical triumphs. Its culmination was a discussion of Rod's latest album and some stories behind the tracks.
I must admit I have not heard Time, so I cannot pass judgement on it. However, I've been around long enough to remember a lot of Stewart's output from those five decades. Thus, my personal favourites from his back catalogue are compiled below. Some should be familiar, others not so much...
In A Broken Dream: Python Lee Jackson
Rod Stewart's vocals have never been put to better use than on this track by Australian group, Python Lee Jackson. In some ways, it seems that they appeared by accident.
Stewart wasn't a member of the group, but was drafted in to contribute vocals when the band's singer felt his own were not right for the song. Recorded in 1969, it was released in 1970 without success, but was a Top 10 hit in the UK once Stewart had found fame.
A rare still of Python Lee Jackson, the group with which Rod Stewart recorded In A Broken Dream.
I've Been Drinking: The Jeff Beck Group
Before Stewart went on to fame and fortune in his own right, he had been a part of a number of blues outfits. Not surprisingly, his rasping vocals were much in demand in the genre. He was active in one such band between 1967 and 1969: The Jeff Beck Group. His great friend Ron Wood was also a member and the band supplied its own unique version of blues, allied with large doses of psychedelic rock.
Stewart's interpretation of this styling is much in evidence on this track, I've Been Drinking: a mantra to both his reputation and his bluesy roots.
Rod Stewart Tracks to Download
The Killing of Georgie: From A Night On The Town 
In view of his Jack the Lad persona, this 1976 single release came as something of a surprise. I've always enjoyed a "story song" such as those you hear by Don McLean or Jim Croce. This one tackled a subject that was not often heard in songs of the period: homosexuality.
Rod Stewart has revealed that The Killing of Georgie is based on a true account of the death of one of his gay friends of the time. He admits that the track was something of a risk to release as a single, but he should have had no doubts about it. In the UK, it peaked at Number 2, although Americans did not embrace it quite so fervently.
Rod Stewart With The Faces
Rod Stewart combined a very successful solo career with duties as the lead singer of The Faces. Here he is pictured with the group during this period (alongside his longtime friend Ron Wood who went on to join The Rolling Stones).
Pool Hall Richard: The Faces
The Faces were around for six years in the late 1960s through to the mid-1970s.
With Stewart as lead vocalist, the band released five albums and eight singles. This is one of the latter. While it would be easy to choose Stay With Me as part of this Top 10, I prefer Stewart's vocals on Pool Hall Richard. He sounds as if he has smoked one too many cigarettes or downed several alcoholic beverages before the recording session, giving his voice the extra rasp it needs for this song.
Maggie May: From Every Picture Tells A Story 
Rod Stewart's first international hit, and one that most casual listeners will recognise, was Maggie May.
Released in 1971, it was the first track ever to simultaneously top both the UK and US charts and become a classic rock song in the process. Originally the B-Side to Reason To Believe, DJs preferred to play this one. As they say, the rest is history.
Rod Stewart On Stage
Sailing: From Atlantic Crossing 
Given the reaction by American record buyers to this song, Sailing capsized commercially, but across Europe Stewart's popularity was such that the track floated to the top of the charts, not once but twice.
Its success was spurred on by its use in a documentary series of the time, giving the singer his biggest selling single in the UK to date.
You Wear It Well: From Never A Dull Moment 
At this point in time, there was Never A Dull Moment as Rod once again strode to the top of the charts in the UK within a matter of months of his first major hit single, Maggie May.
Here he is performing You Wear It Well in 1972 on the must-watch TV show for most teenagers at the time: Top of the Pops. He is joined on stage by members of The Faces.
Handbags and Gladrags: From An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down 
Whether it's sung by Rod Stewart or somebody else, Handbags and Gladrags has always been a favourite song. Written by a former lead singer of Manfred Mann, Mike D'Abo, this 1967 composition has been recorded by a varied number of singers including Chris Farlowe, Engelbert Humperdinck and latterly The Stereophonics.
1960s Singles From Rod Stewart - Failures, but fun to listen to now
A couple of commercial failures from Stewart which were released during the Sixties when the singer was trying to establish a solo career.
As 'Rod the Mod', he covered the Sam Cook song Shake, while a year earlier he recorded another Mike D'Abo track, The Day Will Come.
As we all know, Rod Stewart has an extensive back catalogue of songs. The eight mentioned on this page are among my favourites. Vote for one of these or add one of yours in the comment section below.
Among these, which is your favourite Rod Stewart track?
© 2013 Richard