The lilac satin tracksuit, remember it? The smooth bare chest, the quail's-egg navel, the haircut worn better by Steve Harley, slightly yellow on the Mod. Why the Union wristbands? I never knew. I let it be, and bopped to Bolan, and fell in love to Wings.
The history I caught up with, eventually. His Long John Baldry, Julie Driscoll and Reg Dwight years. His bit of Tommy. America getting Rod Stewart before we did. That was cool. Jeff Beck, Ronnie Wood, blotchy Faces albums, blondes. One of them, the prettiest, Dee Harrington, is now my personal trainer. Get me. Famously a great band member, too good a ligger, the solo move at the end of '75 surprised. He became entangled in tinsel and was swallowed by LA. I kind of forgot about him.
All these years. The gravel-in-a-biscuit-tin voice has smoothed now. It no longer grates. The raucous in Rod has subsided. Even the tartan is less, and somehow tasteful, his best brazen laid to rest, his hormones halted by too many children, and even grandchildren. His what is there left to do? Only this. 'Time', his first studio album in more than a decade, bounces right to number one. Eleven original tracks, written and produced by he himself, every one of them heaving with the familiar and the heard it all before, yet new, yet loaded, with all our yesterdays and sentiment and been there and wept it and laughed and choked, and smiled, and loved you more.
Listen no further than 'Brighton Beach' for the meaning of Rod Stewart, then. Weep at the timeless effortlessness of dear Jim Cregan, the song's co-writer: can't you still see his green grin on Top Of the Pops as he took to the guitar solo of 'Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)' for the Rebel Steve? Wallow in 'Live The Life' and 'Picture In A Frame', full-tidal with echoes of 'Amazing Grace', and 'Time'. Wish, and know that they won't, ever, that someone would some day write a song like 'Pure Love' about you.
Do I think he's sexy? At sixty eight? Not much. There are men who do hold it, whom I could name, but let's not. Rod doesn't. Penny thinks so, or maybe she doesn't. Who knows? Her portraits of her husband, featured in the CD booklet, certainly suggest mutual attraction, and are reminiscent of those taken by lovely Linda of Paul. Perhaps it takes the look of true love through a lens to capture one's deepest essence. Most of us wait in vain for a lifetime, sometimes knowing how much we love someone, knowing that they do not love us back. That's hopeless. Rod gets it. He's been listening. This is an album for loved-and-losts, as well as winners-take-all.
Love: the last indefinable, the great unfathomable, all our beginnings, our ends of the world, is the thing that this album celebrates. Love drove Rod's recent autobiography, which also topped the charts. Elegant and dignified, most of its mischief lay in careful whispers between the lines. Rod learned long ago to close the bedroom door. The paradox - that life's most tender moments are both universal and personal, is Rod's big life lesson learned. Finally. 'Time' reminds us to hope, and to believe. Someone like you? There was a reason. I always knew.
Monday, 20 May 2013
Aztec Camera said it all in their greatest hit 'Somewhere In My Heart', from their 1987 album 'LOVE':
'From Westwood to Hollywood,
The one thing that's understood,
Is that you can't buy time,
But you can sell your soul,
And the closest thing to heaven is to rock and roll ...'
I was pregnant with my first-born at the time; ducking and diving between Sunset Blvd and the shadowy confines of Fleet Street, covering the biggest rock tours on the planet for the Daily Mail. I would have sold my soul for Roddy Frame. We all would. He got us.
So is the inexorable passage of time eased any by life's soundtrack? I have always believed so. Keep listening, kids, the past is yet to come. Yet it can't all dangle from nostalgia, can it. Music must keep tiger-feeting on. It can nod to the old guys, pay a little homage, and must certainly immerse itself in influences - for inspiration is what it's all about. But it must, must do its own thing. It must invent as well as re-invent. It has got to keep laying its neck on the line, keep putting it out there. If you're any good, the establishment and even your own fans will be suspicious of you. Nobody loves a winner, until they know how.
I don't want to sound jaded, but very little stops me in my tracks these days. I've heard it all before. And yet. Every now and then, I have to stop the car, get out for a few moments, take a jig down the freeway, hurl my hat, let down my hair, have a swig. Guess what did this today? Daytona Lights did.
I've raved about them before, with good reason. I make no secret of the fact that I've known their guitarist Louis Souyave since he was twelve. What a thrill it is to hear the irresistible music that he and his band mates are making now. So go, spend a little money on their brand-new five-track EP 'Old-Fashioned Love'. Immerse yourself in its spunky, necessary heart-throb beatiness. Its jangly attitude and cheek, its echoey Brian Wilson lilts, its le Bon-ness, its Rhodes-and-Taylor cockiness. Its rhythm, its blues, its light and shade, its sparks and chimes and don't-know-who-you-are. Get this. Drown yourself in its harmonies and hooky choruses and indie-pop energy. Be thrilled that people can still do this.
I booked my August ticket to Ibiza today, by the way. If they're not playing this in the clubs, I'm heading for the Midnight Beach, me. It's what I do. X