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Rod Stewart's "Time" Reviewed

Rod Stewart’s best album since 1998’s sublime When We Were The New Boys, is the first to feature Kevin Savigar since 1998. ANd I don’t think it is so much that Stewart needed Savigar to write his look back at a life ell spent “Time” but more that he chose Savigar when he knew he wanted to write songs to supplement his biography and to move his recording career forward for the first time in 25 years.

It isn’t that STewart had retired, it is that his collection of Great American Songbook covers where he asphyxiated the classics with his Van Morrison meets Sam Cooke voice got old after the first one and the Soulbook collection came close to messing with his “You Send Me” memories of long ago covers.

But we knew Stewart still had it going on because he remained pretty excellent in concert and maybe never more than the 2011 greatest hits tour: my review began with the legend “There’s no sin in giving an audience exactly exactly what they ppaid for” and ended with “Concert of you”. If nothing else it proved Stewart, currently 68 years old, was still a force.

The recorded results is the very fine Time.  Ten tracks, nine originals and one a return to Tom Waits, who he once covered to great effect on “Downtown Train”. “She Makes Me Happy”, the wonderful title track, is a good little thumper like it was 1975, and by the fourth track, a haunting memory of a girl gone by “Brighton Beach” the fight is over. “Finest Woman” jump starts with a yelp and sound s like “Hot Legs” if Stewart had a little more Stones influence in the late 1960s.

The lyrics just glow with a deep easy going happiness. On song after song, whether happy with the present or not upset with the past, Stewart seems to have figured out life has not only been but is being pretty good to him. The searching searing pain of Never A Dull Moment and Every Picture Tells A Story to the emotional contortions of his 1970s work are over. The man who once complained “My 30s over without costume change” has changed costume. He is where he should be. This sense of deep pleasure makes this.

Now, what do I care if he is happy or otherwise, right? It happens to matter because of the standard of craft and perfection on these songs. The deluxe version waivers a little, but the ten track original album is very fine indeed. The loss of “Time” is a darkening but it is removed on “Beautiful Morning” and “Can’t Stop Me Now”.

Stewart thought he’d written his last song till this album, where Jim “Cockney Rebel”  Cregan pushed him and pushed him and Rod came up with “Brighton Beach -a fabulous track. Stewart told the Guardian: ” Songwriting’s never been a natural art for me; it’s always been a bit of a struggle. I just thought it had got up and left me.” Which makes it especially a pleasure to hear Stewart sing a remembrance of himself past like “this scruffy beat up working class teenage troubadour”.

Grade: A-

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