Music And Concerts



Stardust...The Great American Songbook: Volume III
(October 19, 2004)

December 9th, 2004
Rod Stewart - (J Records/BMG)
The Great American Songbook Volume III
Bugs Burnout

After selling 10 million units of the first two albums in this awful series, Rod the Mod is back yet again milking his umpteenth comeback. This schlock makes his Do You Think I'm Sexy period look like high art. Guests Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder and Dolly Parton each ruin their good names, except Bette Midler who embarrasses Rod when they duet on Manhattan. Midler shows Stewart how it's done, though on this album Rod would be hard-pressed to out-sing even Miss Piggy.

Rod Stewart
Stardust: The Great American Songbook Vol. III
Grade: B-
( J )

Town On Line
Review by Sarah Rodman
Wednesday, November 10, 2004

You'd think he'd be getting better at this by now. On his third album of pop standards, Rod Stewart continues to snooze through some of the best songs ever. The arrangements are fine and Stewart's crooning is adequate. What's missing is any fizz or sophistication or even boozy charm. Rod the Mod simply sounds stiff, as if he's trying to atone for all those years he spent strutting around in leather pants singing about his own sex appeal. Stewart invites a few friends to the party to varying effects. Stevie Wonder and Eric Clapton add lovely, understated harmonica and guitar, respectively. The great Dolly Parton shticks her way through "Baby, It's Cold Outside," sounding more uncomfortable than Stewart. And Bette Midler outclasses her host and everyone else, running swellegant circles around Stewart on "Manhattan." Download pick: "Manhattan."

Editorial Reviews

It's a little hard to take Rod Stewart seriously when, on the first track of this third installment in his Great American Songbook series, he sings ruefully about his love life being "lean" ("Embraceable You"). But otherwise, Stardust...Volume III is as note-for-note solid as its predecessors--a cozy-up-to-the-fire treat that's also a pleasant reminder of these songs' staying power. "S'Wonderful" settles on the ears winningly, and Stewart's scratch-a-thon voice scalpels the cobwebs off of "Isn't It Romantic" in a way that compels the average listener to reconsider thinking it dopey. In addition, the parade of high-wattage pals recruited to pitch in continues here, resulting in a couple of must-hear combinations. Eric Clapton delivers a rather un-Clapton-like guitar solo on "Blue Moon" and Stevie Wonder blows harp like he means it on "What a Wonderful World," but it is the duets--"Baby It's Cold Outside" with the unsinkable Dolly Parton and "Manhattan" with the indomitable Bette Midler--that dazzle most. --Tammy La Gorce

Stewart's third "Songbook" is hardly a charm
St. Louis Today
Sunday, Nov. 28 2004

Rod Stewart "Stardust: The Great American Songbook: Volume III" J Records

At this point in his career, Rod Stewart is supposed to have the best years of his career long behind him. Actually, they are: "Every Picture Tells a Story" was more than three decades ago. Still, Stewart managed to see himself debut at the top of the Billboard 200 for the first time in his career with his latest CD, "Stardust: The Great American Songbook: Volume III," yet another collection featuring the singer putting his spin on classics.

Does this mean "Stardust" is one of the singer's best releases? We all know the answer to that. If anything, the CD shows how lazy Stewart has become - and how smart.

"Stardust" is Stewart's third trip to this well in two years, his new fall tradition, following 2002's "It Had to Be You ... The Great American Songbook," and last year's "As Time Goes By ... The Great American Songbook: Volume 2." Each has been successful, allowing Stewart to stay in the game and please his
new record label.

That's what makes this latest "Songbook" smart. But it also can be lazy to record a bunch of standards, especially in the case of versions like this, when the originals are barely tampered with.

Stewart's latest is nothing spectacular. Stewart's sandpaper voice remains an acquired taste (albeit one treasured by many) on songs such as "Embraceable You," "What a Wonderful World" (featuring a noticeable Stevie Wonder on harmonica) and "Isn't It Romantic." He comes off better when aided by guests like Dolly Parton on the fun "Baby, It's Cold Outside" and Bette Midler on "Manhattan." But they're not quite enough to make fans beg for a fourth volume. - Kevin C. Johnson Review

Stardust is the third instalment of Rod Stewart's nostalgic journey away from leopard-print rock and into a gentler world of traditional jazz standards. Mainly backed by a small combo of piano, bass and drums, Stewart has avoided the trend in big-band swing, putting his legendary showmanship aside in favour of a more relaxing sound based solely on his voice.

Opener "Embraceable You" is for the most part indicative of the rest of the album aside from a few vocal jazz tricks that don't sit too well on his gravelly, self-trained voice. "Manhattan", a duet with Bette Midler also highlights this lack of formal technique where his voice clashes with the rich, cabaret tone of Midler's. However, aside from these remembrances that Rod is a rock singer, the reason the American Songbook series is on its third volume is that he sounds fantastic singing this kind of music. Consistently through every song his apparently strained voice sounds effortless as he inserts a very natural dynamic feel. The highlight has to be "Baby it's Cold Outside", a wonderful duet with Dolly Parton who's warm, friendly, drawl complements him perfectly.

Stardust may not be the sort of music that would make him leap about and kick footballs at his fans but, Rod Stewart snr. has matured gracefully and seems very comfortable doing it. --David Trueman