Wednesday, June 29, 2016

"Every Picture Tells A Story"

Rod Stewart:  “Every Picture Tells A Story”
Secondhand Vinyl Album  (Received as a gift)
Original Release Date:  1971 Mercury Records

Side 1
Every Picture Tells A Story
Seems Like A Long Time
That’s All Right
Tomorrow Is A Long Time

Side 2
Maggie May
Mandolin Wind
(I Know) I’m Losing You
Reason To Believe

   Never before have I reviewed an album I’ve held so dear to my heart.  Up until this point I’ve been subconsciously pussyfooting around my favorite records.  It’s like I feel unworthy to write about them.  I can’t quite manifest the mystery of their, “greatness,” into words.  Basically, despite my flair for alliteration, I have no right to write about them!  However, finally I feel ready to tackle the albums that make me feel so, "much," I finally have proof I’m not a robot.  In contrast, the music emanating from my turntable this week was so perfect it caused me to suspect that the musicians involved couldn’t possibly be human.  To state it simply, no earthly being could construct sounds this spotless. 
   The album, “Every Picture Tells A Story,” by Rod Stewart kicks off with its rollicking title track.  Instantly, this listener found herself deliriously happy.  Suddenly, the year is 1971 and Rod is lamenting in his trademark rasp, “I was accused!”  In this blogger’s opinion it’s undeniable that certain songs become anthems of their time.  It does not escape this listener’s attention that during the 1970’s there were musicians that undeniably contributed more introspective subject matter than what Rod Stewart provided.  However when I hear a song like, “Every Picture Tells A Story,” smothered in blues and gospel, and served up with Rod’s signature sass I can’t help but smile and think, “Damn, they just don’t make ‘em like that anymore.”  By the end of this song a listener finds themselves in a near feverish frenzy, praising the chants of Stewart’s soulful backup singers.  “Every picture tells a story, don’t it?” they resound and this listener can’t help but sing along in appreciation of a decade that’s music often defines classic rock.  
   Later in the album, Stewart shows his skill in the realm of ballads.  Both, “Seems Like A Long Time,” and, “Tomorrow Is A Long Time,” display Stewart’s uncanny ability to meld less mainstream genres of music into extremely accessible songs that appeal to a wider audience.  Suddenly, the old time folksy sound that one would think could only appeal to other musicians, the elderly, and elitists becomes interesting to everyone.  It’s this listener’s opinion that other than his unique voice, the knack for creating accessibility is Rod's greatest feature.  OK, and his hair...gotta love his hair. In addition, Stewart achieves universal appeal by using wit and humor in his lyrics.  Basically, even when Stewart’s singing a serious ballad it seems probable that he's got a smirk on his face and a sparkle in his eye.
   This is extremely apparent during the album’s most recognized song, “Maggie May.”  While I find this piece to be heavily pop driven, I notice several instruments being used that I can't identify.  “Is that a ukulele,” I found myself wondering.  Despite my obvious lack of expertise when it comes to identifying string instruments, I am still able to seriously, “get down,” with my folk self.  Rod sings, “All you did was wreck my bed And in the morning kicked me in the head,” and a listener can’t help but smile along in agreement.  “Been there buddy,” this blogger thought while marveling at Stewart’s awesome ability to make unpleasant situations, enjoyable.
   My favorite songs on the album include, “Mandolin Wind,” and, “Reason To Believe.”  Musically, I admit that the folk inspired, “Mandolin Wind,” is far superior to my other choice.  However, “Reason To Believe,” has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid.  Again, I would like to emphasize how accessible this record is to its audience.  I mean come on, Stewart and his band were able to transform the mature sounds of string instruments into something fun for a child to listen to.  In fact, if I were asked today the perfect word to sum up an album like, “Every Picture Tells A Story,” I would say fun.  Actually, fun doesn’t quite do it justice.  I would describe this record as delightful, frivolous, and amusing.  You know, exactly like Rod’s hair.

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