During the early stages of his career – one that now has lasted nearly a half-century – Rod Stewart emerged as a flamboyant performer, an admirable songwriter and a top frontman with the Faces. Throughout the whole thing, however, Stewart has always been a phenomenal singer.
Stewart, despite his flirtation with disco, has always been a blue-collar rock ‘n’ roller, but with his signature raspy voice ideally suited for both. He’s had his ups and downs, but his popularity at one point rivaled that of his friend, countryman and fellow soccer fan Elton John. Unlike John, though, Stewart’s voice has never really deserted him. John’s vocals remain decent, but he just can’t hit the high notes the way he used to.
Stewart can still hit those notes, and in 2006 he released Still The Same… Great Rock Classics of Our Time, a compilation of covers that pays tribute to the Eagles, Bob Dylan, Elvin Bishop, Nazareth, Van Morrison, Bonnie Tyler and Creedence Clearwater Revival to name a few.
This 13-song LP features covers of “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” The Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand by You,” Bob Seger’s “Still the Same,” “Love Hurts” and John Waite’s “Missing You.”
Throughout his long and illustrious career, Stewart has covered such classics as John’s standards like “Your Song, “Country Comfort” and “Let Me Be Your Car.” He’s also done his interpretations of the Rolling Stones’ classic “Street Fighting Man,” Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away,” Cat Stevens’ “The First Cut is the Deepest,” Crazy Horse’s 1971 classic “I Don’t Want to Talk About It” and the Fab Four’s “Get Back.”
So Stewart has made a habit of interpreting songs by others, making this album a good idea. And the execution is good because of the quality of Stewart’s voice..But it’s not great. On some tunes, Stewart sounds like nothing more than a very good karaoke singer as he merely copies these tunes.
The LP, however, does have some stellar moments. Stewart’s version of Elvin Bishop’s “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” is flawless and can stand admirably alongside the original, Stewart also covers Dylan’s “If Not for You,” which is perhaps the most covered Dylan tune aside from “All Along the Watchtower,”
Artists such as George Harrison and Olivia Newton-John have covered the song. And like the former Beatle and country/pop singer of the ‘70s/’80s, Stewart knocks this one out of the park.
Stewart also admirably performs the Eagles classic “Best of My Love,” a song that could’ve easily been written for him.
In the late ‘70s, Bonnie Tyler released “It’s a Heartache,” a song that paid homage to Stewart himself and was a hit on both the country and pop charts. Trouble is, Tyler sounds more like Stewart than he does.
Ultimately, the few great songs here make this a must-have for Rod Stewart fans.