Rod Stewart : Album Review Every Picture Tells A Story

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 In 1971 Rod Stewart released the album, Every Picture Tells A Story. You have to ask, “what was he thinking”? Stewart croons, “I firmly believed I didn’t need anyone but me”, and for this album his confidence outweighed his fear of criticism. With no apologies he made a clean sweep with music genres including rock, blues, country, folk, and soul. He and Ron Wood had a story to tell and if you listen to this album from beginning to end, the next song is always a curveball.

This album was recorded in ten days which adds to the continuity and tightness of the vocals and instruments. The instruments seem to vie for Stewart’s attention and shove their way into the rhythm of the lyrics. Just when you think Ron Wood is paying no attention he throws in a guitar riff like he and Stewart are in a private conversation.

 

LYRICS

Sarte said, “Words are loaded pistols.” On this album Rod Stewart shot out the lyrics, his vocals leading every instrumental note. In the song, “Maggie May”, which Stewart wrote, the lyrics romanticize the anecdote that at 16 he lost his virginity to an older woman. Stewart sings, “You stole my soul and that’s what really hurts”, but a bit of cockiness in his voice can easily be detected. And then there’s, “Every Picture Tells A Story”, that Stewart and Wood wrote together, where Stewart quips, “Combed my hair in a thousand ways, but I came out looking the same”. In the folk tune, boasting British and American influence, “Mandolin Wind”, Stewart wrote and sang, “No Mandolin Wind could change a thing”. The lyrics make sense if you’ve ever been in a no win relationship.

Rod Stewart Every Picture Tells A Story

Photo: By Jim Summaria, http://www.jimsummariaphoto.com/ (Contact us/Photo submission) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

And then there’s the songs that Stewart borrows that he sings like they’re his own. In, “Seems Like A Long Time”, it’s easy to imagine Stewart and his band in choir robes professing a spiritual message. Stewart sticks to rock in John Lennon’s song, “I’m Losing You”, as his band hums behind Stewart’s lyrics, “Your love is fading”. The arrangement of Bob Dylan’s, “Tomorrow is A Long Time”, reflects a country flair which makes Stewart’s voice sing each word with his soul.

 

INSTUMENTATION

The camaraderie of instruments and vocals are led by guitarist, Ron Wood. At times it seems that Rod Stewart has something else to say and Wood answers back intuitively with each guitar note. After spending many years being overshadowed by Jeff Beck, with Stewart, Ron Wood’s creative license is loose and intuitive.

And now to the drums played by Micky Waller. In every track the drums make an impact. It’s obvious that Stewart and Waller have a connection from the past with the Jeff Beck group. In the song, “I’m Losing You”, the drum solo is worth the price of admission.

The mandolin player, Ray Jackson, has to be mentioned because Rod Stewart forgot his name for the liner notes and improvised with, “The mandolin was played by the mandolin player in Lindisfame. The name slips my mind”. This was too bad because the mandolin is prominent in “Mandolin Wind”, and “Maggie May”.

FINAL WORD

This album does paint a complete picture. The only song that seems out of place is, “That’s All Right”. Stewart’s band does a fine rendition, but there is nothing that sets their version apart. “Every Picture Tells A Story”, is the kind of album that you want to listen to in one sitting. Stewart seems to be saying that life is hard, you never know what’s coming next, so take chances – because after all, “every picture tells a story, don’t it?”

TRACK LIST

  1. Every Picture Tells A Story
  2. Seems Like A Long Time
  3. That’s All Right
  4. Amazing Grace
  5. Tomorrow Is A Long Time
  6. Henry
  7. Maggie May
  8. Mandolin Wind
  9. (I Know) I’m Losing You
  10. Reason to Believe

 

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