Where To Start With... Rod Stewart
With a career that has spanned six decades, produced 28 studio albums and achieved record sales believed to exceed a staggering 100 million copies, Rod Stewart is not only one of the most prolific artists this little old island has produced, he's also one of the most commercially successful. To put those numbers in into some sort of perspective, he's sold more records than Stevie Wonder, more than the Beach Boys and – incredibly – more than Prince.
It goes without saying then that 'Rod the Mod', as they called him in his days as frontman of the Faces, isn't a man with anything left to prove to anyone. But, as the dusty old adage says, you can't keep a good man down and just two years ago he scored his eighth Number One in the UK Album Chart with Time, setting a new record for the longest gap between Number One albums in the process. Now he's back again with album 29, Another Country, hoping to repeat that success when it drops onto shelves this Friday (October 23rd).
Produced by Kevin Savigar, who has worked on Stewart's previous two albums and whose list of production credits includes Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp and Marilyn Manson, Another Country is a bit like a microcosm of all Stewart's previous work; although he is usually thought of almost exclusively as a 'rock' artist, trawling through his extensive back catalogue reveals a number of stylistic experiments. So it is with this new album, where the straight-up rock groove of tracks like 'Please' are augmented by the Celtic lilt of 'Love Is' and the reggae-infused 'Love and Be Loved'.
After several years churning out covers in his Great American Songbook series of albums, Stewart is clearly enjoying writing his own material again and the other thing that really strikes you about Another Country is that although the singer is entering his seventh decade, age seems to done nothing to diminish that unique and instantly recognisable voice.
It's not as if there's anything particularly groundbreaking on offer here, but to his millions of fans the new album – which you can preview and buy on the right-hand side of this page – will no doubt be well received.
For those of you who are new to Rod Stewart's music, you might be surprised how many of his songs you know all the words to. We've picked five of them his long career as an introduction to his work below...
'Ooh La La'
Rod Stewart's solo career has produced many memorable hits and there are more than enough to choose from just including the records released under his own name, but it didn't feel right to omit his time as the lead vocalist in the Faces, and if you're going to pick just one of those tracks, it really has to be this. Taken from the 1973 album of the same name, its hook is the key to understanding Stewart's incredibly broad appeal and the song has been used in numerous films and TV shows, such as the closing credits to Wes Anderson's Rushmore.
Surely one of his most famous songs, Stewart's songwriting is at its best when he is at his most honest and the lyrics to Maggie May were reportedly written about his real experiences with an older woman while he was still a very young man. Taken from Every Picture Tells A Story, it's almost like a love letter to her set to music. We dare you to try not singing along...
'Handbags & Gladrags'
Probably best known these days as the theme tune to Ricky Gervais' brilliant sitcom The Office, 'Handbags & Gladrags' was actually first written and released by former Manfred Mann frontman Mike d'Abo, but even though it's been covered many times by the likes of Stereophonics and Big George Webley (whose version appears on the TV show), Rod Stewart's version is hard to beat and the song is still a regular fixture in his live shows.
There's no getting away from the fact that Stewart's most successful era, commercially speaking, was the 1970s, but the arrival of the 80s saw Rod trying out some new moves and many of his songs on albums like Body Wishes and Tonight I'm Yours feature a much more electro-pop sound than you might imagine. Taken from the latter of those records (and subsequently included on several of his Best Of compilations), 'Young Turks' is one of the best of these, and whatever style he's playing with, that voice remains a constant.
'Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?'
We couldn't really leave out this cut from Blondes Have More Fun..., could we? Co-writer Duane Hutchings explains the story behind this track better than anyone, so we'll leave it to the experts: "[The song is] a spoof on guys from the 'cocaine lounge lizards' of the Saturday Night Fever days. We rock & roll guys thought we were dead meat when that movie and the Bee Gees came out. The Bee Gees were brilliant musicians and really nice people. No big egos. Rod, in his brilliance, decided to do a spoof on disco. VERY smart man.”