Stardust...The Great American Songbook: Volume
(October 19, 2004)
Rod Stewart - (J Records/BMG)
The Great American Songbook Volume III
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.
Stardust: The Great American Songbook Vol. III
( J )
Town On Line
Review by Sarah Rodman
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
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."
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
third "Songbook" is hardly a charm
St. Louis Today
Sunday, Nov. 28 2004
Stewart "Stardust: The Great American Songbook: Volume III"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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