The lilac satin tracksuit, remember it? The smooth bare chest, the quail's-egg navel, the haircut worn better by Steve Harley, slightly yellow on the Mod. Why the Union wristbands? I never found out. I lost interest, bopped to Bolan, and fell in love to Wings.
The history I caught up with. His Long John Baldry, Julie Driscoll and Reg Dwight years. His bit of Tommy. America getting Rod Stewart before we did: that was cool. Jeff Beck, Ronnie Wood, blotchy Faces albums. Bondes. The prettiest, Dee Harrington, became my personal trainer. Get me. Famously a great band member, too good a ligger, the solo move at the end of '75 surprised. He got lost among the tinsel and was swallowed by LA. I forgot about him.
All these years. The gravel-in-a-biscuit-tin voice no longer grates. The raucous has subsided. The tartan is less, and somehow tasteful, his best brazen laid to rest, his hormones halted by many children, and grandchildren. What is there left to do? Only this. 'Time', his first studio album in more than a decade, bounces straight to number one. Eleven original tracks, self-penned and produced, all heaving with the familiar and the heard it all before, yet new, yet loaded, with sentiment and been- there and wept-that and laughed and choked, and smiled, and loved you more.
Listen no further than 'Brighton Beach' for the meaning of Rod Stewart. Weep at the talent of Jim Cregan, the song's co-writer. You still see his green grin on Top Of the Pops as he played the guitar solo of 'Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)' for the Rebel Steve, can't you? Wallow in 'Live The Life' and 'Picture In A Frame', full-tidal with echoes of 'Amazing Grace', and 'Time'. Wish, and know that it won't ever happen, that someone should some day write a song like 'Pure Love' about you.
Do I think he's sexy? At sixty eight? Well. There are men who do hang onto it Rod doesn't. Penny thinks so, or maybe she doesn't. Her portraits of her husband, featured in the CD booklet, do suggest mutual attraction. They are reminiscent of those taken by Linda McCartney of Paul. Perhaps it takes true love through a lens to capture someone's deepest essence. Most of us wait in vain, sometimes knowing how much we love, knowing that they do not love us back. Hopeless. Rod gets it. He's been listening. This is an album for loved-and-losts, as well as winners-take-all.
Love. The last indefinable. The great unfathomable. Our beginnings, our ends of the world. It's all here. Love drove Rod's recent autobiography, which also topped the charts. Dignified and reserved, most of its mischief lay unsaid between the lines. Rod learned long ago to close the bedroom door. The paradox - that life's most tender moments are both universal and personal - is Rod's big lesson. Finally. 'Time' reminds us to hope. To believe. There is a reason.
Monday, 20 May 2013
Aztec Camera said it in their greatest hit 'Somewhere In My Heart', from their 1987 album 'LOVE':
'From Westwood to Hollywood,
The one thing that's understood,
Is that you can't buy time,
But you can sell your soul,
And the closest thing to heaven is to rock and roll ...'
I was pregnant with my first-born at the time; ducking and diving between Sunset Boulevard and Fleet Street, covering the biggest rock tours for the Daily Mail. I would have sold my soul for Roddy Frame.
Is the passage of time eased by life's soundtrack? I've always thought so. Keep listening, kids. The past is yet to come. Though it can't all dangle from nostalgia, can it. Music must keep reinventing itself. It can nod to the old guys, pay homage and immerse itself in influences. But it must also do its own thing. It has to keep sticking its neck on the line, keep putting it out there. If you're any good, both the establishment and your own fans will be suspicious.
Very little stops me in my tracks these days. I've heard it all before. Every now and then, I have to stop the car, maybe get out for a minute, do a jig, hurl my hat, let down my hair, have a swig. Guess what did this today: Daytona Lights.
I've raved about them before. Full disclosure, I've known their guitarist Louis Souyave since he was twelve. What a thrill to hear the great music that he and his band mates are making now. Go, spend a little money on their brand-new five-track EP 'Old-Fashioned Love'. Get into that throb, its jangly attitude, its lilts, its le Bon-ness, its cockiness. Get this. Drown yourself in its harmonies and choruses and indie-pop energy. Be thrilled that people can still do this.
I booked my August ticket to Ibiza today, by the way. If they're not playing this in the clubs by the time I land, I'm heading for the Midnight Beach.