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October 13, 2018

What a good year for the Roses!

Blood Red Roses Review By Dominic Murphy

posted by Mike Walton

Rod is on record that he now writes and records songs for his family, friends and loyal fans and BRR, his 30th studio release does not disappoint.

This album will resonate with everyone who has followed Rod since the early days and I feel this album takes Rod almost full circle since the Old raincoat and Gasoline Alley days.

Rod is sharing his lifetime experiences, memories and stories directly with us just ordinary everyday people who have made him the Rock superstar he is today and still top of the pile with no equal. The voice is distinguished and as strong as ever on this album and like the classic Time has that unmistakable Stewart sound, feel, style and honesty about it.

Rod has managed to extract almost every style of music from Blood Red Roses from folk to Rock, Cajun, skiffle Motown , Funk, disco, soul, songbook and even reggae and all the arrangements fit and work well. This album takes the listener on a long journey with Rod driving the bus and happy to share his personal thoughts, feelings and emotions with his trusted fans and those people closest to him. Don’t get me wrong the mischievous rebel rocker is still very much there alongside that famous Stewart humour, laughter, sadness and that God given talent which personally engages the listener on a one to one basis.

The opening track Look in her Eyes is vivacious, powerful and raunchy and a timely reminder to all us folk, shall we say of advancing years of exactly how used to be with our eager ambitions and pre planned club excursions be that – “out on the pull “ or simply a night on the town. Despite our best endeavours to catch the pretty girl Rod quickly reminds us “she’s not pretending it’s just the look in her eyes!”

Hole in my heart is a decent enough rocker and I dare say a good live track but lyrically is Rod telling us he can’t cook an egg now the girl has left the kitchen and our hero not only heartbroken but undomesticated too!

Farewell is a heartfelt tribute to Rods dear old soulmate Ewan and is delivered with sincerity, honesty and detailed flashbacks of the famous swinging 60s in London town. Feels like those times were only yesterday Rod as you keep us forever young.

Didn’t I is my second favourite track and packs a real punch and a serious message to those with children and loved ones. The lyrics are sublime, original and meaningful. Every picture tells a story with Rod warning us of the dangers of drug abuse, Didn’t I try to warn ya about them folk in California is a classic line but for me it’s the closing lyrics on this number that really grab me and hits home / …where’s the innocence/ where’s the future/ where’s the beauty/where’s the promise. Love this number…. Rod at his best.

To lift the mood the title track Blood Red Roses has that feel good factor straight from the kick off and I defy anyone with Celtic roots or a love of music not to be toe tapping on the floors and chairs whilst singing along to the catchy and infectious chorus line -Go Down you Blood Red Roses. The band and violins by J’Anna and Adrianna make this tune a memorable offering and one Moby Dick would indeed be proud of.

If ever there were just one love song suited to Rods incredible voice it is Grace and leaving aside any outside opinion and prejudice Rod really nails this one. A true and tragic love story it is impossible for anyone not to be moved by the shear emotion and delivery Rod brings to this classic sad song. Yes, Grace will bring a tear to the eye there is no question about that.

Give me Love will grab the attention of Jay kay and Jamiroquai in particular, with its slick and funky sound, heavy baseline riffs and arrangements. Love the trumpet in there (a touch of Dixie toot in there from Smiler). The musicianship and mixing skills of Kevin Savigar is top draw and again shows off the versatility of Rod and his ability to cover just about every type of music.

Rest of my Life is an out and out Motown number … wow the Temptations would certainly love this. Clearly Rod is expressing his love of life and this song has that indefinite feel good factor. Rod does not have a bad bone in his body and plenty of loving in his heart and soul …so much so he wants to feel like this for the rest of my life.

Now no Rod Stewart album would be complete without a good old blues tune and Rollin & Tumblin made famous by the legendary Muddy Waters hits the bullseye. Those Rod fans fortunate to be at Hyde Park to hear Rod play this live will remember how well this was received at that gig and I am thrilled Rod has recorded it. Dave Palmer plus the excellent percussion and backing vocals make this number a must play on the live circuit. Love it.

Back to the ballads, Julia is a touching story of young love and let’s be honest we have all been there. The double irony of this song is the girl I myself had a
crush on from no 4 was also called Julia!!! No joke Its really true. She loved the Bay City Rollers I seem to recall, so my numerous Rod tartan silk scarves gave me an edge or so I thought, but like Rod ’s Julia I never did get the chance to take her to the pictures.

Honey Gold is well 24 carat gold and a peach of a song. Rod has written some great lyrics here that have a depth and feeling (qualities Rod has in abundance) So just who is the girl who used to party with the Faces and is untouchable? Joanna Lumley would be my guess and maybe one day Rod will let us know ..Whoever she is for Rod to write and dedicate a song to this special lady is unique in itself and a moment in time. Is it just me but I am sure there is a little touch of Tonight’s the night in this fine and touching tune.

On to route 65 now with the Vegas Shuffle where Rod is trying to bring his fans, who have yet to see him live at Caesars Palace to a Vegas gig. This song is a grower with some excellent guitar plays and a rock n roll swagger to it.

Cold Old London brings to a close the standard album and like Rod, being London born myself this song strikes a chord with me. Another tale of lost love delivered with panache and style…this is classic Rod and has him reminiscing about the one true love he allowed to get away. As Rod sings the lines /now I’m getting older and the girls are getting younger he is reflecting on those early times in London still pining for the one true love. Memorable track and well produced with lovely vocals from Bridget Cady.

On the deluxe version Who designed the snowflake is a bit of a quirky number and not quite sure if it fits on this album, but hey, Rod loves it and after all he is a genius at work.

It was a very good year has a songbook feel to it, but I do like the wonderful touching tribute to Penny with the added verse at the end. Forever the gentleman is our Rod. Like Another Country and Time before it Rod finishes up with another uptempo reggae number I don’t want to get married, which is fun and catchy, and I dare say he must have had a glass or two of that special rum before laying this track down. Give up on football? …No, we just can’t do that!!

To conclude my friends for those lucky enough to have secured the super deluxe BRR album there is a bonus track called Priceless and wow believe me this song really is just that Priceless. Vintage Stewart Rock n roll and for me some of the best lyrics Rod has penned in recent times. I absolutely love this track which is my own personal favourite. The song is all about the simple everyday things available to us all. Life is a diamond, with the mighty oceans and the burning sun. Live every day like it is your last and picture the smiling faces that a new born brings and that iced cold beer when the days work is done.

As Rod signs off Let the good times roll and the people rejoice. An absolute gem of a song and must for the live shows.
Thank You Rod for Blood Red Roses …these are truly vintage years and roll on the next one.

Dominic Murphy ( Smiler)
October 2018

© 2019 SMILER Magazine

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