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I admit I'm a fan
Ok, I should admit upfront to being a bit of a Rod Stewart fan. I was converted way back in the late 70s when I went to see him live. Before that I wasn't really bothered one way or another but he had such a powerful stage presence, I left the concert totally hooked. He's one of those stars who has matured well over the years. I saw his Hits show last year at his Caesar's Palace residency in Las Vegas and he's still got it. I know there are many who say he can't sing, but personally I love that husky voice of his.
Until Time, Stewart hadn't written any new songs for 20 odd years. Boy does this album make up for that gap. Released in May 2013, Time was sparked by Rod writing his autobiography which incidentally I thoroughly enjoyed - it's witty, insightful and frank. But then we've already ascertained that I'm a bit of fan! Many of the songs on the album do have an autobiographical thread.
There are 12 tracks on the album, 3 more if you go for the deluxe version. The standard download from itunes is £8.99, £10.99 for the deluxe. £11.05 for the deluxe version CD from Amazon.
1. She Makes Me Happy - I love this song, a bright and chirpy tune dedicated to the current Mrs Stewart, Penny Lancaster. It's upbeat, definitely has a Celtic melodic theme and is a great way to start the album.
2. Can't Stop Me Now - dedicated to Rod's late father, this tells the story of Rod's break through to the big time with the success of Maggie May. Another catchy tune with a strong beat.
3. It's Over - this changes the mood of the album as 'It's Over' is a rather mournful and sad song lamenting the break up of a marriage. In Rod's case it could refer to either of his first two marriages but he's said it is about the break-up of his relationship with Rachel Hunter which left him devastated. However the plea in the song to remain friends for the sake of the children seems to ring true. Somehow Rod has managed to maintain good relationships with all his exes.
4. Brighton Beach - a beautiful ballad, this one dedicated to his first-born daughter, Sarah Streeter. The tuneful ballad tells the story of Rod's first love and the baby conceived on Brighton Beach when Rod was 18. I'm sure it's rather a romanticised view of what actually happened since Sarah was given up for adoption.
5. Beautiful Morning - another upbeat song about going away for the weekend to the beach at the beginning of the summer; I can almost hear the birds. This song just makes you feel good.
6. Live The Life - apparently written as advice for his son, this is another great song which is slightly reminiscent of some his earlier work; it actually reminds me a little of Mandolin Wind. Again, as well as a lovely melody, the lyrics are great. It's about accepting life for what it is and making the most of it
'So love the life you live
And live the life you love'
7. Finest Woman - one of the more 'rock' numbers, this is presumably another one written for Penny Lancaster. It's certainly on the same theme as 'She Makes Me Happy. The love interest is described as 'Six foot one with a golden heart'. Of course it could be any one of Rod's exes. His love for tall blonde women is legendary.
8. Time - another change in tempo with this bitter sweet song. It's about the break up of a relationship and letting go. Again Rod has said that he had Rachel Hunter in mind when he penned this one.
9. Picture In A Frame - this starts with a piano introduction and although a nice ballad, it is unlike the other ones. This is the only track on the main album that is not written by Rod. The song was written by Tom Waits who also wrote another of Rod's greatest hits "Downtown Train". He sings it really well, it's a pleasant enough ballad but for me it lacks the depth that the other songs have on this album.
10. Sexual Religion This track is back to pure Rod with this one. Rod has a reputation for being a womaniser. As the lyrics say Rod is 'a helpless disciple to the temple of love'. It's really not like the infamous 'Do Ya Think I'm Sexy' at all, but it did bring this older song to mind and is one of these songs that stick in your mind whether you want it to or not!.
11. Make Love To Me Tonight - this track clearly isn't autobiographical. It's about a factory worker who is worried about losing his job. 'I may be down but I'm not out' and with the love of his wife, he'll make it through.
12. Pure Love - a beautiful song to end this album, the lyrics actually bring a tear to my eye.
It's about a parent's love and wishes for their child - 'Journey far and travel safe'. It is very sentimental but any parent will recognise the sentiments:
'There may be oceans in between us now
But I think about you every living hour'
and the chorus line
'You will always be a part of me'.
There is a recognition that nobody's perfect -
'I wasn't perfect this I would admit,
I was always tryin to make the pieces fit'.
Isn't that how we all feel? We do the best we can as parent, but we know that we make mistakes.
~ Bonus tracks ~
13. Corrina Corrina - this is a traditional American folk song which Bob Dylan also recorded. It's quite bluesy with a harmonica track and for me is the best non-Stewart track on the album.
14. Legless - this is a fun song about Mr Jones, an ordinary working man who wins the lottery. To celebrate he intends 'to get legless tonight' (and he says worse at the end of the track). Who can blame Mr Jones. I think I'd do the same!
15. Love Has No Pride - Not my favourite track. In fact I had to listen to it again to write this review as I find it quite forgettable. It's an okay song - a little doleful. Again about a lost love but perhaps cleverly chosen for the last track on the deluxe version The last words are 'And I would do anything to see you again'.
For me it's not just the music that makes it a great album - and it is good music - it's the lyrics and the stories that the songs tell. Credit also needs to go to Kevin Savigar, Rod's long term musical partner who co-produced this album.
This album went straight to No 1 in the UK album charts so clearly I am not alone in loving this album. In my opinion it's Rod at his very best.
Definitely 5 out of 5
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 She Makes Me Happy
2 Can't Stop Me Now
3 It's Over
4 Brighton Beach
5 Beautiful Morning
6 Live The Life
7 Finest Woman
9 Picture In A Frame
10 Sexual Religion
11 Make Love To Me Tonight
12 Pure Love
13 Corrina Corrina
15 Love Has No Pride