Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Rod Stewart 2: Gasoline Alley

Much as we’d hope this was a concept album all about Walt Wallet and little Skeezix, Gasoline Alley presents the “other side” of Rod Stewart, the more acoustic and introspective singer than the rooster with the stupid haircut on the back cover. Once again he’s helped along by Ron Wood and guitarist Martin Quittenton, plus Mick Waller when the other Faces aren’t handy.
The title track is a drums-less strum for guitars and mandolin matching Rod’s melody. Ian McLagan shows up to pound the piano for a lengthy bash at “It’s All Over Now”—not a Stones original but certain in the spirit of their version. And how many albums quote the opening track in the musical break of the second track? Lest we stray too far from the country, “Only A Hobo” is a decent version of a Dylan outtake, better than any version Bob did himself that we’ve heard. The Faces come back for “My Way Of Giving”, a remake of a Small Faces tune from the pre-Ogden’s era, Rod duetting with Ronnie Lane here on the chorus.
Elton John’s own version of “Country Comfort” wouldn’t be out for a few months, but Rod’s take crosses the writer’s feel with a little “Handbags And Gladrags” sweetness, while making the title plural. But “Cut Across Shorty” is the highlight here, a raucous stomp of acoustics and drums, with a fiddle sawing away, pointing the direction to his next solo album. Woody’s mostly restrained on this album, but he can’t helping noodling all over “Lady Day”; “Jo’s Lament” is a little better, more of an update of an Appalachian tune. The Faces (save Mac, “not available due to bus strike”, the credits say) close the set with the stuttering funk of “You’re My Girl (I Don’t Want To Discuss It)”.
Gasoline Alley doesn’t always get its due, particularly considering how Rod Stewart has spent most of his career. But particularly in tandem with his first album, we can hear how he managed to become such a magnetic singer in the first place.

Rod Stewart Gasoline Alley (1970)—

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