Next month Record Collector magazine celebrates the 40th anniversary of Rod's landmark album Never A Dull Moment. In a major article by Dave Lewis (author of the excellent Led Zeppelin magazine Tight But Loose) the album is reappraised and proves to stand up remarkably well to the test of time .
John Gray and Neal Webb from SMILER Retro assisted Dave with the research with John contributing his memories in a corresponding article.
The relevant issue of Record Collector will be in the shops on 11 October. Don't miss it!
Meanwhile, here's an exclusive taster in the form of John's article. This is the un-edited version which has been shortened for the final feature:
NEVER A DULL MOMENT
I was 11 years old when I first saw Rod Stewart on Top of The Pops singing ‘Maggie May’. The single would become the first record I bought, although I already had a collection that had been passed down to me by an older cousin with excellent taste, including singles by Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Cream and The Kinks. However, none of these had anything like the impact Maggie May had on me and that first purchase marked the start of a love affair with Rod Stewart’s music that has stayed with me ever since.
A few months later, thanks to Top Of The Pops again, I found out Rod was lead singer of The Faces when that classic Sounds For Saturday performance of ‘Stay With Me’ was premiered on the show. When Jimmy Saville announced that the Faces were to be featured in their own television show on BBC2 a few months later it would not be long before I got a taste of Rod Stewart live.
Following ‘Maggie May’ so quickly with ‘Stay With Me’ was a master stroke. It sowed the seed that kept me interested and made me hungry for more. I kept watching Top Of The Pops - and Rod soon turned up again, this time singing backing vocals on ‘Iko Iko’ for Long John Baldry . I soon discovered the music papers and found out that Rod had a past, as well as a future. And it was that future that the papers seemed most interested in with anticipation for his fourth solo album at fever pitch.
Rod was all over the music papers during the summer of 1972 and was keen to talk about ‘Never A Dull Moment’ in what would prove to be some of the most revealing interviews of his career. The album was unique as it was the first Rod had made as a genuine superstar. It combined all the qualities of the previous solo Stewart sets with a bigger nod than usual to the Faces, making it his most Faces-like album to date. It was the first album I ever bought and when I hear it today, the second Kenney’s drum beat kicks the party into action I can still taste, feel and smell the summer of 1972.
‘Never A Dull Moment’ cemented my fascination with Rod and the Faces. As I left primary school and started secondary school, pop music would enter a classic period with Rod and the other new superstars of the day - Bolan, Bowie and Elton - dominating the charts. Glam rock had arrived and Rod - always a flashy dresser - had been glam long before the phase had been coined. He fitted the scene perfectly and was at the top of his game.
There were four original songs on ‘Never A Dull Moment’, but more significant for me were the covers. The album pointed me, as an eager 12 year old, in the direction of Bob Dylan, Sam Cooke and Jimi Hendrix. Whilst many of my peers were listening to music that offered little reference, Rod provided me with a musical education that I will always be grateful for. By the time the Faces split up, I had consumed both Dylan and Cooke’s back catalogues in their entirety.
Critics sometimes cite ‘Never A Dull Moment’ as the point at which the Faces became merely a backing band for Rod. As a fan, that wasn’t how I saw it. In fact quite the opposite was true. Including the solo works of Ronnie Lane, the Faces together and individually, would release no fewer than eight albums and three non-album singles over the next three years. This was an astonishing amount of music that kept fans like me more than satisfied… and during this time the band continued to tour relentlessly. Then Ron Wood hooked up with the Stones. Rod made that decision at the end of 1975. And things would never be the same again.
When ‘Never A Dull Moment’ was released Rod was considered our most down to earth rock star. Fifteen years later I got to know him pretty well and for over a decade spent a lot of time in his company where I was privileged to talk to him about his contemporary career and his days in the Faces. By then, the press had decided he was out of touch and had little in common with his fans. How wrong they were. He really was still the man of the people - the superstar with the common touch. I had seen with my own eyes the way he’d pop into pubs he’d never been to before and instantly get on with the punters talking football. There were no airs and graces - and he was never surrounded by body guards.
Rod may not be one to play small cosy venues, but he always has time for his fans and treated me extremely kindly. He invited me to his wedding, I propped up bars with him, he paid for me to see Scotland play England at Wembley, he made sure I got concert tickets for his shows in the USA, he invited me to back stage parties, I even ended up in a New York nightclub with him once! I got to know his family - his lovely sister Mary, his brother Don and sister-in-law Pat, both great supporters of the fanzine Smiler and the nicest people you could ever meet. Not forgetting his other brother Bobby and his family who always treated me very well. Rod proved time and time again to me that he is a thoroughly decent and pleasant man who has no problem engaging with his public. If anyone thoroughly deserves his continued success it is Rod. And long may he continue. As John Peel once said… I don’t care what he does, as long as he does it!
Never a dull moment indeed.