Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., Dec. 18, 2009
Rod StewartAtlantic Crossing (Warner Bros.)
Rod StewartA Night on the Town (Warner Bros.)
Rod StewartUnplugged ... and Seated (Warner Bros.)
Rod Stewart was over the top, literally, when 1975's Atlantic Crossing and 1976's A Night on the Town were released. The Faces' pub rock had been dispatched in favor of stateside musicians and a new label, giving Stewart the strength of the Muscle Shoals rhythm section on Crossing. It also delivered blistering rockers ("All in the Name of Rock 'n' Roll"), tender ballads ("I Don't Want to Talk About It"), and beloved covers ("This Old Heart of Mine," "Drift Away"). By the time he recorded A Night on the Town, Stewart was a U.S. citizen and acting like it, with a coterie of L.A. musicians in tow. Two hits from it further defined his career, "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)," with girlfriend-actress Britt Ekland on "multilingual vocal appliances," and "The First Cut Is the Deepest," a holdover from Crossing, yet the surprise is the depth of his self-penned pro-gay anthem "The Killing of Georgie (Part I and II)." What makes these two reissues notable isn't just bonus tracks but the additional disc that mirrors the original tracks with alternate takes, an improvement over the outtakes box set just issued. By reuniting with Ronnie Wood and recording Unplugged ... and Seated on MTV in 1993, Stewart recouped dignity he lost during the spandex 1980s. Stripped-down, roots-driven hits plus Faces faves such as "Handbags and Gladrags," "Maggie May," and a smokin' "Cut Across Shorty," plus a DVD of the show, makes it the best of the three. Lather, rinse, repeat.
(Atlantic Crossing; A Night on the Town)