Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Rod Stewart 7: Atlantic Crossing

With Atlantic Crossing, Rod Stewart effectively said farewell to his old life as a good-time blues singer and Faces frontman, literally crossing the ocean to relocate in L.A. and sign a fat deal with Warner Bros. While commercial success would follow, his legacy would be tainted with every hit single.

The album was recorded in such hip places as Criteria Studios in Miami and Muscle Shoals, using regulars from the latter studio as well as Booker T and the MG’s. All excellent players, to be sure, but that certain something that the Faces previously brought—as well as the quality of folks like Martin Quittenton and Micky Waller—was missing. The album still combined new originals and clever covers, but was divided between a “fast half” and a “slow half”, which may have been nice depending on your mood, but also underscored the dullness of the tunes. His voice was always raspy, of course, but here it’s lost its personality somewhat.

The fast side offers a handful of self-penned rockers with nothing much to distinguish themselves, although “Alright For An Hour” does change up the beat and “Three Time Loser” finds him “jacking off, reading Playboy on a hot afternoon.” Thanks for the update, Rod. For some reason his cover of Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away” is considered fast, and does split up the side a bit, especially since the slow side is very, very slow. The late Danny Whitten gets a nicer eulogy than a certain Neil Young album via Rod’s slightly syrupy take on “I Don’t Want To Talk About It”, while the Isley Brothers’ “This Old Heart Of Mine” becomes something of an Al Green imitation, even with the MG’s. “It’s Not The Spotlight” and “Still Love You” don’t quite reach the acoustic heights of his first three albums, though “Sailing” would soon become a classic, and rightfully so.

Many years later Rhino put together a deluxe edition of Atlantic Crossing that presented an “alternate version” of the album, consisting mostly of early takes without all the embellishments, but not exactly improving anything by subtraction. Much more interesting are three outtakes with the MG’s, including an anemic take on “Return To Sender” and a very promising version of the Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody”. Tacked onto the main program is “Skye Boat Song”, a standalone single credited to the Atlantic Crossing Drum & Pipe Band that manages to pay tribute to his homeland while leaving it behind.

Rod Stewart Atlantic Crossing (1975)—2
2009 Deluxe Edition: same as 1975, plus 15 extra tracks

1 comment:

  1. Micky Waller was a fine drummer alright. I particularly enjoyed his work on Rod's "Every Picture Tell A Story". Atlantic Crossing was certainly "of its time" and as you point out marked the commencement of Rod's decline. Can't help but love him though - his earlier work and contribution to The Faces were splendid.