PERCHED AT the top of
the UK album charts on 1 January 1980 was Rod Stewart's Greatest
Hits, as if Rod was declaring: 'Slate me all you like, but I'm
still here and I'm still Number One!' The albums success was testimony
to Rod's sheer staying power. It held the top slot for five weeks,
punctuating the seventies perfectly and marked an end to yet another
chapter in the Rod Stewart story, as a change in direction was just
around the corner.
Fans had been starved of new material throughout 1979 with only
Greatest Hits to plug the biggest-ever gap between new Rod Stewart
recordings. By May 1980, there was still no sign of anything new.
Press releases issued earlier in the year pointed out that Rod was
in the studio and a new album - likely to be a double - was imminent.
Eventually, Riva Records realised that Rod's year-plus absence from
the singles chart was far from desirable and If Loving You Is
Wrong from Footloose And Fancy Free was released as a
single. The record made a respectable No. 23, but its timing could
not have been worse. Shortly after release, a strike at the BBC
put Top Of The Pops out of action for six weeks, denying the record
The new album titled Foolish Behaviour eventually surfaced
in November, a full two years after Blondes Have More Fun.
In an array of publicity, a string of UK dates were announced for
December which formed part of a ten-month tour commencing in Europe
and concluding late summer in the States. The album wasn't a double
after all, although the cassette version featured an extended Passion
and a bonus live version of Willie Dixon's I Just Want to Make
Love To You.
Discounting the Dixon song on on the cassette, it was the first
time a Rod Stewart album had featured all original material. Although
more satisfying than Blondes Have More Fun, press and fans
alike were quick to notice that much of the album seemed derivative.
The opener Better Off Dead took its title from an Elton John
song and guitar licks from a T Rex hit; the title track was a fine
piece, but blatantly borrowed lines from Jagger/Richards 'Sympathy
For The Devil'; So Soon We Change bore more than a passing
resemblance to 'Walking On The Moon' by the Police and Dance
With Me was a dead-ringer for the Stones 'Respectable'. Even
Passion, by Rod's own admission, was an attempt at writing
a song to match Marvin Gaye's 'Inner City Blues'. Only Oh God
I Wish I Was Home Tonight with it's acoustic quality and squeaky
fiddle offered the unique Stewart style of old.
Foolish Behaviour was not received well by critics. The
British music press no doubt decided they were going to hammer it
before hearing it and the majority of reviews consisted of personal
attack, rather than constructive comment. Despite such negative
press, it quickly reached platinum status on both sides of the Atlantic,
peaking at No. 4 in the UK and No. 12 in the USA. But it's success
was short lived. Whist Rod's four previous albums had remained on
the UK charts for at least eight-months each, Foolish Behaviour
managed only 13 weeks. This was partly to do with the below average
performance of the singles from the album. The first choice was
Passion, the first in a string of excellent, up-tempo rock/pop
hits Rod scored throughout the decade. It was a great record, yet
only managed No. 17 in the UK. Notable, as each album since 1971
had spawned at least one immediate Top 10 hit. Things were not helped
by Dave Lee Travis's introduction of the song on a live edition
of Top Of The Pops. Travis randomly selected a spotty youth in the
audience and asked if he liked Rod Stewart. The response was an
immediate 'no!' The tone of the answer and screwed up look on the
young mans face suggested he had been most offended by the question!
An embarrassed Travis quickly introduced the record which subsequently
dropped down the charts the following week. My Girl was hurriedly
released as the follow-up single only to stall at No. 32. A final
attempt at a third hit with Oh God I Wish I Was Home Tonight
was halted in its tracks when the BBC banned the record due to its
lyrical content. In America things were slightly better. Passion
managed a healthy No. 5, although Somebody Special the soulful
follow up stalled at No. 81.
It was, however, a time of mixed blessings. Tickets for the UK
tour sold faster than any previous tour of Rod's career. Applications
for a six night string of dates at Wembley Arena were an incredible
100,000 over subscribed! The reception from fans at the concerts
was as enthusiastic as ever. At the opening Wembley concert, one
reporter noted fans appeared to be bodily climbing over each other
in order to get near to the stage! In fact in every town Rod ventured,
whether it be Leicester, Glasgow or for the first time, Dublin,
he played to highly enthusiastic crowds. The tartan horde were still
in evidence and the community singing as loud as ever. Not bad considering
rock stars didn't come more un-fashionable than Rod in 1980!
At the end of January 1981, Rod summoned band members Gary Grainger,
Phil Chen and Kevin Savigar for an American television appearance
to push Passion. The response of Grainger and Savigar was
far from enthusiastic. Rod was furious and immediately sacked all
three. This gave him the excuse he needed to inject new blood into
the band. Out went Billy Peek to be replaced by Robin Le Mesurier,
Grainger was replaced by Danny Johnson and Chen by Jay Davis. For
some reason, Kevin Savigar was forgiven and re-joined! When the
new line-up made their debut in the Far East during May, they played
in a noticeably heavier style than the previous band. It soon emerged
that drummer Carmine Appice was behind many of the changes in an
attempt to give the band a more rock based sound. After the tour,
Rod planned to release a live album. However, Warner Brothers rejected
the idea as they didn't approve of the audience singing! As a result,
Rod postponed his tour of the States and returned to the studio.
Rod's next album, 1981's Tonight I'm Yours, was a classic,
possessing many of the hallmarks of his early seventies work. It
was received well by several music papers - notably Sounds and Rolling
Stone, who pointed out that the spark missing from Rod's previous
two albums had re-ignited. The sound was modern, fresh and slick
and the selection of songs superb. The albums title track gave Rod
his first UK Top 10 single for three years. However, the albums
real gem was Young Turks a song about teenage pregnancy.
It cracked the American Top 5 and went to No. 11 in the UK. Had
it not been for a two week gap in the British charts over the Christmas
period, it would have almost certainly made the Top 10.
On 11 November, Rod
started his first North American tour in over two years. It clashed
with a Rolling Stones tour and it soon became evident that Rod and
Jagger were in direct competition. Both acts talked of plans to
beam their concerts around the world. In the event it was Rod who
stole the Stones thunder, when on 19 December, his Los Angeles Forum
concert was beamed live around the world and to London's Leicester
Square Odeon, attracting a worldwide audience of some 60 million.
Rod invited a struggling Tina Turner to sing a couple of songs with
him at the show which is unanimously regarded as the turning point
in her career, paving the way for her belated solo success in the
eighties. Several notable critics were ecstatic about Rod's return
and the word on the street was that the Stewart shows were knocking
the Stones for six! However, whatever the success of the album and
the feelings of the press, clashing with the Rolling Stones was
not a good idea. When the worlds greatest rock 'n' roll band enjoyed
more publicity and sold more concert tickets, Billy Gaff, Rod's
manager, got the blame. It wasn't long before he was sacked. However,
the bad timing of the tour wasn't the only factor in Gaff's removal.
Reports were rife that Rod's wife Alana, was keen for her husband
to sacrifice singing in favour of a career in films. She was tired
of the constant touring and the couple had endured endless rows
on the road. Members of Rod's band and entourage noted how one by
one, working colleagues appeared to be disappearing at Alana's request.
Eventually a live album was released in November 1982. Backed by
a strangely low-key publicity campaign, Absolutely Live boasted
a superb selection of eleven hits. It should have been an instant
winner with fine renditions of Sailing and I Don't Want
To Talk About It (featuring the communal singing from London
that Warner Brothers had so strongly objected to) and two previously
un-released songs.The double album came lavishly packaged, the band
played well and Rod's voice was in fine form, yet it bombed! It
made an astonishingly low No. 35 on the UK charts selling fewer
than 50,000 copies and only No. 46 in the USA where it took over
a decade to pass the half a million mark. Amazingly, it appeared
that Rod was more than happy to sit back and watch as it disappeared
into oblivion. In private though, he was mortified and immediately
returned to the recording studio. At the same time, there was a
looming court case hanging over his head with Billy Gaff who boasted
to the press that he'd warned Rod not to release a live album: 'I
didn't think it would do his career any good, but he wouldn't listen.'
Seven months later came
the new studio album Body Wishes. It featured ten original
songs and some interesting lyrics: Ready Now was directed
at Gaff and even made No. 2 on the Heavy Metal charts! Dancin'
Alone proved that Rod had lost none of his sense of humour and
Strangers Again appeared to be a plea to his wife. It was
by no means a bad album, although it was universally slammed by
the critics. Once again, Rod had been away from the singles chart
for over a year and rumours were rife that he was worried. It had
also been another long period away from the British stage - this
time two and a half years. A planned tour of football stadiums,
which was to have included Leeds and Bristol, was shelved in favour
of a low key string of dates at Earls Court, London and the Birmingham
NEC. Only Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow survived from the original tour
itinerary. Fans in Manchester, a Rod Stewart stronghold since the
days of the Faces, were bitterly disappointed that their city was
not to be visited, as were fans in Leicester and Brighton where
Rod had played on previous tours. In all, the total number of dates
in the UK and Ireland was a miserly eight. It seemed that just as
Rod needed to cultivate the market and expose himself to as many
fans as possible, he did just the opposite.
The knives were out and critics were keen to slate Rod in writing.
Simon Kinnersley reached new depths in a vicious article in the
News Of The World magazine entitled 'Too Old To Rock And Roll' in
which he predicted Rod's career was at an end. Even more disgusting
was the famous NME comeback interview by Paolo Hewitt, someone who
should have known better. Hewitt demonstrated a clear lack of understanding
and reduced a lengthy chat to just two pages consisting mostly of
his own misguided and confused thoughts.
When Rod appeared on stage at Earls Court he faced the biggest
challenge of his career and admitted to the crowd how nervous he
was. He needn't have worried, the fans were still behind him and
even the most diehard of critics were silenced! No one could deny
that it was a remarkably triumphant return! If Rod had succeeded
on stage, then he excelled himself in the charts beyond his wildest
dreams - Gaff, Kinnersley, Hewitt and all the other knockers must
have been dismayed! Body Wishes became the first ever Rod
Stewart album to produce three consecutive hits. Baby Jane
went to No. 1 where it stayed for three weeks! The album did amazing
business throughout Europe and stayed on the UK charts for 27 weeks.
In August What Am I Gonna Do? shot to No. 3 whilst the ballad
Sweet Surrender climbed to No. 23 at the end of the year.
'Bollocks to the music papers' Rod told the audience at Birmingham
NEC. 'Fuck the art, lets rock 'n' roll' proclaimed the shirt on
In America the story was different. Body Wishes only managed
No. 30 and the singles Baby Jane and What Am I Gonna Do
No's 14 and 38 respectively. The album was the first Rod Stewart
album to fail to reach gold status in the States since his 1969
debut and it quickly became public knowledge that Rod was far from
happy with the situation. The original plan following the 'Body
Wishes' tour, had been for a tour with Elton John. The pair would
perform soul standards together, rather than their hits and dates
were booked. However, Rod was so worried about the poor American
sales of Body Wishes he pulled out, much to the dismay of
Elton John who promptly denounced him in the press. Rehearsals for
the tour would have meant no time for a new album and Rod was keen
to hit all the right buttons in the States. He was also in need
of a manager - enter Arnold Stiefel.
If ever there was an
album aimed at the American market, it was Camouflage. It
was Rod's fourth offering of the decade and an album that probably
wouldn't even have been made but for the poor sales of Body Wishes.
With a new manager and much determination, the aim was to turn the
clock back, yet at the same time retain a modern up-to-date sound.
Rod had heard the Donna Summer record 'She Works Hard For The Money'
and liked the sound and chose Michael Omartian, Summer's producer,
to work on the album. The previous year, Rod had met up with Jeff
Beck in Los Angeles and when the pair were out at dinner, apparently
suggested to Beck that they form a new band. After years of mistrust
and constant digs at each other, it seemed as if the rifts had been
healed. As a result, Rod helped out on a Beck recording session
and Beck agreed to play on Camouflage appearing on three
out of the eight tracks.With the exception of an ill advised cover
of Free's Alright Now and the rather dull ballad Trouble,
the album held it's own. It reached a respectable No. 18 in the
States, quickly turning gold and was Rod's first ever album to produce
two back-to-back Top Ten singles: Infatuation made No. 6
and Some Guys Have All The Luck No. 10. Following the UK
success of the singles from Body Wishes, expectations of
Infatuation were high. It enjoyed a prime plug on BBC1 when Rod
lip-synched the song on The Montreux Pop Festival and also secured
a play on Top Of The Pops. Surprisingly though, it only managed
No. 27, with the honour of the biggest hit from the album going
to Some Guys Have All The Luck which made No. 15. Meanwhile,
Camouflage continued Rod's proud run of Top Ten albums in
the UK making No. 8.
Back in America, Rod
was astonishing the critics with some of the best live shows he
had ever given! The original idea was that Jeff Beck would tour
with Rod and have his own spot, as well as guest on several of Rod's
songs. In the event, the fiery guitarist walked out after only seven
shows, famously blaming Las Vegas type audiences full of blue-rinsed,
middle aged women as the reason for his desertion. Although this
was somewhat an exaggeration, as according to record company research,
Camouflage was being predominately purchased by males between
the ages of 18 and 25. On the classic San Diego home video (for
some reason never released in the UK) Rod's new found energy and
youthful audience are there for all to see. Virtually every concert
was a sell out and the evidence of Rod's electrifying performances
on this tour has thankfully been preserved on video forever. The
Camouflage tour continued into the first quarter of 1985, resuming
with two concerts in South America at the Rock In Rio Festival.
The two shows, in front of 200,000 people each night, were the biggest
audiences Rod had ever played to! Next it was onto Australia and
New Zealand, before a controversial, and much criticised, string
of ten concerts at Sun City in South Africa. A few weeks later Rod
was one of only four white performers invited to sing at a celebration
concert at the Apollo in New Yorks Harlem district. The venue is
universally regarded as the home of black American music and the
birth place of Motown. Billed as 'Motown Returns To The Apollo'
Rod described the show as the highlight of his life, appearing on
a bill which included Wilson Pickett, Little Richard, Smokey Robinson,
Diana Ross and The Four Tops, in front of a predominately black
As far as record releases were concerned, 1985 was a lean year.
Following the bust up between Rod and Jeff Beck on the USA tour,
Beck surprised everyone by including People Get Ready on
his album Flash. Rod handled the lead vocals on the track and it
was originally thought record company problems would prevent it
from ever being released. When the track was released as a joint
single it was universally hailed by critics to be Rod's finest work
of the decade. People Get Ready was a haunting rendition
of the old Curtis Mayfield song and had first been performed by
Beck during the ARMS tour of Britain in September 1983 with Andy
Fairweather-Low on vocals. When the ARMS tour went to the States
during late 1983, Beck invited Rod to sing on the track and the
result, according to Epic's press release was 'a totally spontaneous
and brilliant rendering. A classic.' However, no amount of critical
acclaim could save the record from the RSFS (Rod Stewart Flop Syndrome.)
The record received zero promotion, sparse airplay and no major
advertising. Although a fine video was available for television
use, most programmers were unwilling to use it without personal
back up from either Beck or Stewart which was not forthcoming. The
result was one of Rod's finest ever performances on record failing
to make even a dent on the British charts. It peaked outside of
the official listings at a lowly No. 85. Ironically, the record
went on to make No. 49 six years later when re-issued to push a
Jeff Beck box set and charted yet again when the 'Unplugged' version
was released as a single in 1994 and reached No. 45.
Live Aid, one of the greatest musical events in rock history, took
place in 1985. The line-up included Elton John, David Bowie, Mick
Jagger, Queen, Tina Turner, Paul McCartney and just about everyone
else imaginable - except Rod that is! Rod publicly expressed an
interest in playing at the show during the early planning stages,
and just days before the event, the Daily Mirror announced he would
perform a duet with Madonna. In the event, he did not appear and
no official reason was ever given. A year or so later, he claimed
his absence was due to his guitarist, Robin Le Mesurier, not being
able to obtain a visa to enter the USA. If that was the reason,
it was a poor excuse. Those who observed the situation at the time,
still suspect that the real reason was that he had been snubbed
by the organisers. Perhaps they were afraid he would steal the show?
Who knows and who cares! Looking back at Live Aid from the vantage
point of 1999, it comes across as more of a mutual back-slapping
publicity stunt for the music industry than a charity event for
the starving in Africa. In any case, prior to Live Aid, Rod was
almost certainly rocks biggest contributor to the cause, having
quietly donated seven years of royalties from Da Ya Think I'm
Sexy?, his biggest selling song of all time. Two years earlier,
he had also donated the royalties from Ghetto Blaster on
Body Wishes to the charity World Vision. It was a cause close
to Rod's heart and if anyone should have been invited to play Live
Aid and had a right to be there, it was Rod Stewart.
Rod spent the latter part of 1985 writing and recording songs for
his next album. Although there were a few token live appearances,
including Aids Aid in Los Angeles where he dueted with Cyndi Lauper
and an appearance at one of Elton John's Wembley Arena shows where
he dueted with George Michael. The year concluded with a huge one-off
concert at Tampa Stadium in Florida on 7 December.
When Rod returned to the British stage in June 1986, three years
had passed since his last UK appearances. There was talk about retirement,
not from Rod, but from the ever cynical press. After all, he had
reached the grand old age of 41. How much longer could it last?
Even Rod didn't seem too sure and expressed surprise at touring
the UK at all, telling one reporter that, at the time, he'd thought
the 1983 concerts were his last.
The promotional campaign
for Rod's 1986 album Every Beat Of My Heart began with a
live appearance on the Terry Wogan Show. It was Rod's first appearance
on a live chat show since the early seventies and it was well known
he loathed such engagements. Dressed in clothes not dissimilar to
his host, he engaged in general chat for 10 minutes before a brief
video clip of the single Love Touch was screened. This, it
appeared, was Rod's new mature image - a far cry from his seventies
chat show appearances where he appeared draped in satins and slightly
the worse for drink! Every Beat Of My Heart was a true attempt
to get back to basics. Featuring eight originals, one cover and
the specially written single Love Touch, it was,with the
exception of the single, a step in the right direction.Tracks like
Red Hot In Black were dead ringers for the Faces, featuring
thrashing guitars, rollocking keyboards and cheeky lyrics. Whilst
others such as Ten Days Of Rain confirmed Rod's strength
as a lyricist was still intact. A daring cover of the Beatles In
My Life was one of the most moving performances Rod had ever
put down on record and In My Own Crazy Way one of the most
soulful. The album sold well in the UK reaching No. 5 on the charts,
but Rod's absence from the States ensured it only managed a peak
of No. 30, although the single Love Touch made No. 6.
On a second Terry Wogan Show appearance a few weeks later, there
were no pretensions of maturity - no suit, no tie, no adult orientated
posture as he sat with his legs casually dangling over the side
of his chair. Sporting leather trousers and a red and white striped
shirt, he gave stand-in presenter Derek Jameson a brief interview
and appeared much more at ease than he did with Wogan. The main
reason for the appearance was to push the single Every Beat Of
My Heart and as a result the record soon shot to No. 2 on the
UK charts and at one point was only 1,000 copies behind the No.
1 single by Madonna.
The European tour was his longest of the continent yet - a full
five months. The key date was at Wembley Stadium on 5 July, which
was preceded by six indoor dates, two each in Belfast, Glasgow and
Birmingham. It was the first time Rod had played an outdoor show
in the UK for 12 years and his first at the stadium. Tickets were
put on sale just eight weeks in advance and sold steadily. The tour
was preceded by an appearance at the Princes Trust concert at Wembley
Arena where he performed Sailing alongside such Live Aid
favourites as Paul McCartney, Phil Collins and Elton John. Midge
Ure, one of the organisers of Live Aid, commented that he thought
the only reason Rod played the show was in an attempt to sell more
tickets for his stadium show.
The tour kicked off on 27 June in Belfast and by the time it reached
Wembley on 5 July Rod's confidence had been boosted. Any worries
he may have had about returning after a three year absence soon
faded as the fans welcomed him back like a prodigal son. The concert
was an extraordinary success, despite predictions of doom, gloom
and poor ticket sales. Rod pulled in a crowd of over 66,000 even
though it was a dull rainy day. As he took to the stage, it was
pissing down, but nobody cared. The community singing was as strong
as ever and on the likes of Maggie May, I Don't Want To
Talk About It and You're In My Heart the crowd sung their
hearts out. Rod was so impressed, that a few weeks later he released
the live version of I Don't Want To Talk About It on a special
edition single! The undisputed highlight of the show was a brief
Faces re-union. The crowd went wild as Wood, Jones, McLagan and
Bill Wyman staggered on stage, helping crippled Ronnie Lane to a
seat at the side where he watched and sang backing vocals. The band
played a short set consisting of Stay With Me, Twistin
The Night Away, (I Know) I'm Losing You and Sweet
Little Rock 'n' Roller.
A few days after Wembley, Rod announced he was so touched by the
reception he received that he would tour the UK again in the Autumn.
Meanwhile he continued throughout Europe, playing to huge crowds
wherever he ventured. To coincide with the Autumn dates, a third
single was released from the album. The hard rocking Another
Heartache should have been a hit, Rod had ample opportunity
to personally promote the record, even if it had been just by playing
it live at the concerts. However, yet again, due to RSFS, it stalled
at No. 54. An unprecedented attempt at a Christmas hit from the
album with the double a sided In My Life and In My Own
Crazy Way also failed for the same reason.
Immediately after Christmas, Rod went back into the recording studio.
Although the album Every Beat Of My Heart had performed well
in Europe and reached No. 5 in the UK, it had not sold well in the
States. Once again, Rod was determined to put the situation right.
Recording took up most of 1987 and it was the first year there were
no concert appearances anywhere in the world. Rod explained his
absence from the limelight by announcing he wanted to spend more
time with his children. The only new material released was a re-recording
of Twistin' The Night Away recorded for the Stephen Spielberg
film 'Innerspace'. Released as a single, it failed to make any impact
on the charts, yet again due to RSFS.
It was the critics considered opinion that Body Wishes and
Camouflage were ill-conceived, musical hic-ups, on which
Rod followed trends, rather than set them. Or, as Mojo magazine
put it, crap! Certainly, there were a few synthesizers thrown in
for good measure and a number of non-descript tracks. Yet for all
their faults, both albums were lyrically strong and featured their
fair share of traditional Stewart stompers. Some, like Dancin'
Alone and Bad For You, as good as any that had gone before.
Two years on Every Beat Of My Heart was a genuine back-to-basics
move towards soulful ballads and Faces-type rockers, with for the
most part, Rod's voice competing with thrashing guitars. It was
a step in the right direction, but nothing as stunning as his final
studio effort of the eighties. Two years on, Rod took the back-to-basics
concept further. In a move not seen since his famous change in studio
bands on Atlantic Crossing, Rod gathered together many musicians
he'd never before worked with and set about forming an all-new,
all-American live band. Everyone was out, even his close friends
Jim Cregan and Kevin Savigar who had featured in every single post
Faces band. This was Rod taking chances and it was a gamble that
paid off handsomely.
Out Of Order, released
in the early summer of 1988 turned out to be Rod's strongest album
of the decade. It was an undoubted triumph, heralding Rod's entry
into the most successful five-year period of his career ever! The
album completely re-established him in the United States and owed
its success to the sheer brilliance and astonishing variety of the
tracks. Rod's new songwriting partnership with Andy Taylor also
played a part, as did the fact that he shared the production seat
with Taylor and Bernard Edwards. The line-up of musicians on the
album included Tony Thompson, Bernard Edwards, David Lindley, Andy
Taylor and Michael Landau all who played with fire, spark and enthusiasm.
The album was rich in musical style, covering everything from disco
to good time rock 'n' roll. The nucleus consisted of five songs
co-written with Andy Taylor, some on a par with the classic Stewart
/ Wood works! Added to these were two R&B covers, two of the
strongest ballads Rod had recorded in years, a fine stab at disco
and a song which would go on to become a Stateside audience anthem.
The different styles gelled together perfectly, but even more significant,
was the return to the use of acoustic instruments - mandolins featured
on Lost In You and The Wild Horse and the squeaky
fiddle made an appearance on Almost Illegal. Lyrically, Rod
surpassed himself, The Wild Horse told the kind of tales
not heard since Every Picture Tells A Story, and Lost
In You echoed You Wear It Well. In America, the album
soon topped one million sales, in Britain it wasn't the massive
seller it deserved to be and to this day is Rod's only studio album
to miss the Top Ten - by just one place!
The first single from the album, Lost in You, slowly, but
surely crept up to No. 11 in the States as Rod set out on a three
month tour. Meanwhile, the album held its own. Next came the single
Forever Young which soon made No. 12 - still the album held
up in the lower twenties, selling steadily. The tour was extended
and a third single My Heart Can't Tell You No released. It
went to No. 4 in January 1989 earning the distinction of Rod's biggest
hit of the decade. Still the album held on, finally reaching a peak
of No. 20. Incredibly, by May the album was still going strong,
as was the tour - extended from four months to 13 months! An unprecedented
fourth hit was achieved when Crazy About Her reached No.
11. One album - four Top 15 hits! Rod had only ever managed two
hits from one album in the past.
When the tour concluded in mid-1989, Rod quickly returned to the
studio. It was there with producer Trevor Horn that he played a
master stroke which would re-establish him in Britain and win him
more critical acclaim than he'd known in years. Rob Dickens had
become friendly with Rod and had started suggesting songs, one of
them was from the catalogue of Tom Waits. A song called Downtown
Train. Rod recorded it for his boxed set Storyteller.
It also appeared on the Best Of Rod Stewart album. It was
not however, the first choice of single for the UK. That honour
went to This Old Heart Of Mine which only reached No. 56
in the UK Meanwhile, the album entered the UK charts at its peak
position of No. 3 and eventually went on to out-sell every album
Rod had ever released, shifting almost two million copies in the
UK alone and staying on the charts for over 100 weeks.
As the decade drew to a close Rod was named as one of the biggest
selling British artists in America and was getting ready to make
a spectacular comeback to the charts in Britain.