- The Washington Times - Monday, September 25, 2006

People, don’t get ready. The train’s not coming.

That, in so many words, is Jeff Beck’s summation of Rod Stewart’s declining vocal abilities, according to a news item I’m very late in commenting on.

The reason I bring it up now is that, coincidentally, I’ve been listening a lot to Stewart’s best — and, for some reason, largely neglected — solo album, 1972’s “Never a Dull Moment.”

Man, Stewart used to cook — and not just in the amped-up style of the Faces. Rock music saw some heavy hitters in the early ‘70s, most notably Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Obviously, Rod Stewart never fit in with that lot. Nevertheless, he carved out a unique identity of his own: a sort of mid-Atlantic hybrid of American folk and British rock.

“Dull Moment” is Stewart at his jangly, eclectic best. Listening to “True Blue,” I get that where-have-I-heard-that? tingle, and then it hits me: Paul Westerberg borrowed from it on “Gun Shy.”

There are fabulous covers of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind” and Bob Dylan’s “Mama, You Been On My Mind” (which wasn’t officially released by Dylan himself until the first volume of “Bootlegs” came out). You need, in particular, to hear the accordion line on the latter. Trust me, it’ll make your day — and make you weep anew over Stewart’s “American Songbook” spectacle.

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