Part 1 of When Rock n Roll Goes Bad can be found here.
Editor's Note: The staff here at Crimes Against Rock are defeated, broken, and ill. After our analysis of Rod Stewart’s career, and the aborted analysis of the Jefferson Airplane>Jefferson Starship>Starship travesty, staff and interns began displaying strange, violent, and erratic behavior.
The beer doesn’t work anymore. Nothing works anymore. Most are suffering from what is known as “the musical bends.” We have set up musical decompression chambers where affected members are fed a steady diet of the MC5s, Carl Perkins, Soundgarden, and Patti Smith in order to readapt to normal life. It is clear we pushed ourselves too hard after the Meatloaf investigation. Analysis of the Doobie Brothers and the Mick and Bowie tragedy in part 1 seems to have driven some people over the edge. We ask that your prayers go out to staff and family as we rehabilitate, and learn to live in the world again.
Here now is part two of When Rock Goes Bad:
Rod Stewart is not sexy and neither is his craptastic music
No. No we do not.
A few years ago I was in the man cave jamming out to Jeff Beck’s 1968 album “Truth.” My wife burst into the room looking at me with anger and disappointment in her tender eyes. Her lips curled into a sneer, her teeth bared like fangs. “Is that fucking Rod Stewart?” she spat.
I was taken aback, caught off guard. I felt dirty and guilty. You’d of thought she just caught me surfing for porn or overpriced power tools on the intertubes or something.
“Well, yeah, I mean no, I mean, uh—it’s Jeff Beck. Great guitar player. ‘Truth' a cool album. Rod Stewart sang for Beck.” In order to calm my wife, who has long admired me for my refined and impeccable taste in music, I had to explain that Rod Stewart was once a respected and dynamic rock singer. “Really,” I argued, “he was cool once.”
Once. A very long time ago.
It seems impossible to remember a time when Rod Stewart was cool. Rod Stewart. My god. For most people born during the 70s, Rod Stewart will forever be remembered for sleezy, disposable, disco pop-rock that was the rage during the late 70s and early 80s. Rod Stewart. The name has become a punch line to a joke we long ago forgot. He’s become a living symbol to everything that is unholy and wrong with rock n roll.
It wasn’t always this way. Rod Stewart began his career with much promise and vitality. He was the lead singer in an early version of the Kinks (The Ray Davies Quartet). “Rod the Mod” went on to perform in the R&B outfit Shotgun Express during the middle 60s with Mick Fleetwood and Peter Green.
And then he landed the gig as front-man for one of the greatest guitar-slingers of all time: Jeff Beck. The Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart released two of the fiercest blues rock albums of the late sixties with “Truth” and “Beck-Ola."
One of the greatest ironies in rock n roll history is that shortly after Stewart joined Beck’s group, Jimmy Page found himself reforming the Yardbirds (soon to be Led Zepplin) and initially wanted Stewart as a singer. One imagines Robert Plant occasionally calling Stewart just to thank him for joining Beck’s band
"Thanks Rod for not being available for Zepplin. I will always be awesome, and you will not." --Robert Plant
After parting ways with Beck in 1969 Stewart recorded a couple of good and well respected solo albums before falling in with Ron Wood and a few of the lads from the Small Faces. This eventually became The Faces in 1970. The Faces were a good rock band. There was an insouciant, rollicking, and booze-soaked attitude to the Faces that made them fun, and garnered them a devoted live following.
"I didn't always suck!" --Rod Stewart
It is therefore something of a mystery why Stewart, who had heretofore been involved with quality bands and music, checked into the Sucktown Hilton after leaving The Faces. By the late 70s Stewart was mister disco Hollywood, shaking his ass in spandex to truly despicable music.
Through the 80s Stewart furthered his status as a joke and a has-been with awful release after awful release. Stewart attempted a critical comeback with a popular cover of “Downtown Train” in 1990, but only succeeded marring the good name of Tom Waits (although I’m sure Waits appreciated the royalty checks). The time for apologies had long past. Rod Stewart was officially anathema to the good name of Rock.
"I want my song back Stewart. Don't make me go ninja on your ass."
Why? The question keeps popping up. Why damnit? Why would someone blessed with one of the most killer rock n roll voices ever, piss away his talent? The timing of Stewart’s move to suck-o-rama certainly correlates with his move to L.A. Coincedence? It is clear that L.A. in the late 70s and 80s was a coolness black hole, as far as music goes. We have reached a tenuous hypothesis that the problem stems from something Pablo Escobar put in the coke during this era, but further research is needed.
A few months after getting caught listening to Stewart by my wife, I received a phone call from my Mother.
“Honey, I know what you can get me for my birthday.”
“What’s that Mom?”
“That Ron (sic) Stewart has a CD of classic songs.”
“Oh. You mean Rod Stewart ‘The Great American Songbook.’”
“Yes, yes, that’s it.
“Well Mom, there are plenty of great versions of Gershwin, Carmichael, and Berlin songs out there, why don’t you let me compile a ‘best of’ compilation for you.” I was actually looking forward to hunting down good versions of The Great American Songbook.
“No, everyone here (West Palm Beach, i.e 'oldtimeytown') is raving about this Ron Stewart. I want that one.”
I closed my eyes and grimaced. When my Mom likes a musician it is time to perform last rights on said musician. She spent the sixties rocking out to Englebert Humperdink and Wayne Newton so Mom's musical taste is, how shall I put this, questionable. “Fine Mom. Fine. Rod Stewart."
But it wasn’t fine. Now Rod Stewart has soiled and desecrated the Great American Songbook.
So now, if you happen to find yourself at a Rod Stewart concert, you might find yourself praying for a meteor crash while Stewart wipes his ass on your ears with a melody of “Hot Legs> As Time Goes By> Do Ya Think I’m Sexy> Stardust.”
--MJwycha, Crimes Against RockRod Stewart circa 1972 with the Faces. This is good.