My Record Collection 189

Rod – The Later Years  – it is incredibly difficult for any artist to sustain a very long career, especially with the record industry screaming for new product.  Rod had had an incredibly good run – but as the Eighties beckoned he seemed to be both still chasing fame and sounding weary of it all.  Foolish Behaviour came out in 1980, and apart from 2 songs really it was below par.  ‘Oh God, I Wish I Was Home Tonight’ and the closer ‘Say It Aint True’ are pretty good, but the other songs sound either frenzied rockers or soppy ballads.  Tonight I’m Yours 1981,  had a couple of good songs but was another shouty album; Rod trying too hard.  Best were the title track and ‘How Long’.  Body Wishes came out in 1983 and has the dubious distinction of not only being his poorest album, but the worst title and cover too.  Only slightly redeemed by having one great song – ‘Baby Jane’.  Camouflage 1984 was not much better really; best tracks – ‘Some Guys Have All The Luck’ and ‘Trouble’.   Every Beat Of My Heart 1986 was hardly any better; the title track obviously a big hit, but little else appeals, except maybe the final track – a cover of Beatles ‘In My Life’.  Out Of Order followed in ’88 – the lengthening between albums not really improving the quality.  Apart from the opening track ‘Lost In You’ this record just passed me by, like traffic when I was waiting for a bus.  Vagabond Heart 1991 – was much better -it was as if the curse of the Eighties had passed and Rod, to some degree, had re-found his mojo. Opener ‘Rhythm Of My Heart’, although a bit mawkish was a big hit, but the album also contained a duet with Tina Turner ‘It Takes Two’ and a cover of Van Morrison’s ‘Have I Told You Lately’ but best of all are ‘Broken Arrow’ and ‘Downtown Train’; both covers but probably better then the originals.  I also like ‘The Motown Song’.  It seemed that Rod had finally stopped trying to be the latest thing, be it Rock screamer or Disco dolly and just be himself.  A Spanner In The Works 1995 was possibly even better, a quiet reflective sort of album, hardly any fast songs.  One thing I have noticed was that once CDs became the main medium they just got  longer and longer.  When Vinyl was all we had 20minutes a side was it, but with the new found freedom of CDs, albums just got longer; 12 songs rather than 8 or 10 and many over 5 minutes.  So, tedium starts to set in as you wonder if the blinking record is ever going to end.  Anyway, a nice selection of very good songs;  best of which are probably ‘Leave Virginia Alone’, Dylan’s ‘Sweetheart Like You’ and ‘This’ – though there isn’t a poor track on it really.   1998 saw When We Were The New Boys – which in some ways was a tribute to old band The Faces, especially as the track ‘Ooh La La’ was never sung by Rod at the time and was written by Ronnie Lane, who died a year before this record.  The title track also harks back to those early 70’s days.  But best songs are ‘Secret Heart’ – written by Ron Sexsmith (see S), the infectious and naughty ‘Hotel Chambermaid’ and ‘Shelly My Love’.  A very nice collection of songs.  2001 was Rod’s last album for Warner Brothers – Human. An album of soul covers, well sung but not quite as brilliant as maybe he hoped it might be; possibly because there were about 15 different producers, so no overall sound.  Still – a pleasant, if not his best album.  Best are ‘Smitten’ and ‘Peach’.  In 1993 Rod released a bit of a retrospective album Lead Vocalist – with a great cover.   A good resume, including 3 Faces tracks – but 5 or 6 songs I had never heard before; three were later released as singles.  The best are of course ‘Shotgun Wedding’ and ‘Waltzing Mathilda’, but I really like ‘Ruby Tuesday’ and ‘First I Look At The Purse’.  And  of course another chance to hear 3 or 4great Faces tracks. Next is a 4 CD collection Storyteller  released n 1989, it is career wide resume, and excellent.  Disc 1 covers early years with a track from Steampacket, and also has some excellent singles and b sides.  As well as the cream on the cake…’In A Broken Dream’ recorded for a band ‘Python Lee Jackson’ which went to number 1.  Disc 2 – is the best really as it covers The Faces years.  All the hits plus ‘What Made Milwaukee Famous’, ‘Pinball Wizard’ and the last Faces single – ‘You Can Make Me Dance’.  Disc 3 The American years to 1980 is as expected very good, but nothing new. Disc 4 is 81 to 89.  Nothing really exciting about this last one, except to say how incredible Rod has been over a sustained career, and each album still managed to contain at least one outstanding song.  Then for what ever reason; maybe a real love, maybe the money – anyway Rod started on his American Songbook series – I have resisted the attempt to buy them…sometimes enough really is enough.  2006 and Rod released Still The Same – a collection of his interpretations of great Rock and Roll classics. Quite a nice album -nothing really outstanding – but Rod could read the phone directory and it would sound good.  He repeated the format in 2009 with Soulbook – a collection of Tamla classics.   Of course, the songs are all classics and Rod, mostly, does them justice, but somehow it doesn’t work – maybe because the songs are so familiar in their original versions that you cannot really enjoy Rod’s mostly authentic but unimproved versions.  Time (2013) is the latest I have of Rod’s.   And excellent it is.  A real return to form.  He wrote almost all the lyrics for the songs, and they sound quite heartfelt.  Great melodies and a couple of real rockers.  Much more like his first three or four American albums.  Best are ‘You Make Me Happy’, ‘Brighton Beach’ and ‘It’s Over’.  I get the feeling that Rod was looking back over his many girlfriends and wives and writing songs to specific ones.  I am still collecting, slowly – as Rod jeeps on knocking them out.  A real trooper