I reviewed the new Rod Stewart standards disc in today’s Daily News. The key in evaluating these kinds of records — wildly popular, necessarily compromising — is to put yourself in the shoes of those (and there are many) who buy them. Here’s the lede:
Guys like Stewart have all the luck. The crooner has sold 13 million of these “Songbook” discs since the series began in 2002, with a new one issued each year. But can Rod the (former) Mod hit the notes? Yes, and some impossibly high, too. Are the arrangements top notch? Absolutely. And one thing about that voice – it’s an original.
Here’s a quibble:
As on Stewart’s earlier standards discs, instrumental solos are limited to restating the theme in eight bars or less, no solos allowed, even by big-name guests. Trumpeters Chris Botti and Roy Hargrove, guitarist George Benson and saxophonist Dave Koz are wasted.
And a caveat (Ilene says this part is too musically nerdy):
But on all 13 songs, Kenny Asher’s bread-and-butter piano and Bob Mann’s steady rhythm guitar keep the proceedings humming along.
And summing up:
If you love Stewart’s voice, there’s no better way to hear it than here. And if you can’t stand it, at least give the guy credit for tackling the Great American Songbook, although the millions he’s made from the venture is probably thanks enough.