People with taste tend to ignore Rod Stewart albums released after the demise of Faces. That’s a bit hasty–for one, “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy”, the hit off 1978′s otherwise insipid/forgettable Blondes Have More Fun, is one of the most effective, trance-inducing dance singles ever, even as it lifts its chorus hook from Brazilian Samba-rocker Jorge Ben Jor’s “Taj Mahal.”
But where Blondes… finds Rod the Mod moving questionably into Rod the Bod territory, 1980′s Foolish Behaviour(purchased for 99 cents at The Groove) is exponentially more dangerous, independent, musical, and fun. Only the hit, “Passion,” attempts to create another “Do Ya” styled dance single, going so far as to employ the latter’s verse melody in the chorus hook.
First shot fired is “Better Off Dead,” a ridiculous, three-minute ’72 Stones blaster sporting soccer-chant-grade gang vocals in its chorus. It’s one of four tough, Faces-style rockers on the album, the best being the paranoid “Gi’ Me Wings.” Rod the Bard sings: “Driving in my car/There’s nothing on the air/Play a song that’ll ease my pain/D.J.’s telling me/That this is what’ll be/Help me I’m depressed again.”
Buried at the end of Side One is “Oh God, I Wish I Was Home Tonight,” an indispensable, seven-verse, homesick folk-rocker knocked out of the park by Stewart and his hot band who, tellingly, are individually credited as co-writers on every song. Again, the lyrics: “Would have wrote you a letter, but the telephone calls are free/’Cause the boys in the next apartment are working all day/They’re a great bunch of guys but I think they’re all gay.”
There’s certainly some lite rock at this party, but only one song–the final cut, “Say It Ain’t True”–is saccharine enough to make me reach for the stylus. Indeed, “My Girl” and “Somebody Special” may be two of the best stabs at by-the-book, blue-eyed soul Rod has committed to record. Once I stop expecting him to be the white Sam Cooke, it’s easy to realize: he’s the British Sinatra.
The stories in these songs are vivid and full of laughs, the band brilliant, and Stewart in fine voice. Rod himself said on Oprah back in the 90′s that Foolish Behaviour was his favorite album. It sounds like he enjoyed himself, and the feeling is mutual for this reviewer. For those wishing to take post-Faces Rod seriously, this is an excellent point of entry.
Michelle and I paid a visit to The Groove (103 South 11th Street) yesterday. We scored a copy of The Osmonds ‘ Phase III, in which these Mormon teeny-boppers first attempt to shed the Jackson 5 routine for a hard rock sound. The follow-up, Crazy Horses is infinitely more successful in this campaign, and helluva lots more listenable, although “He’s The Light of The World” is some legitimately groovy God-rock, I suppose. The main attraction of this dollar record find was the HUGE poster of the Osmonds (pictured above) which, unfortunately, was covered with black mold. It’s sitting on my front porch. I can’t commit to throwing this beautiful thing in the trash, but I don’t really want it in my house, either. –Brett Rosenberg