ROD STEWART. SMILER, CONSIDERED (1974): All the way to the bank

 |   |  1 min read

ROD STEWART. SMILER, CONSIDERED (1974): All the way to the bank

When Rod Stewart's Smiler album came off the shelves at random for this on-going column it was probably the first time it had been on the stereo for 20 years, if not more.

And it is a surprising album.

Surprising in how lazy it was.

Stewart as a songwriter steps back for an album of mostly covers and – in the case of Paul McCartney's lyrical lame but pleasant Mine for Me – cast-offs.

Stewart only gets a couple of co-writes: Farewell with Martin Quittenton (a lesser rewrite of their superb Maggie May of three years previous) and with Faces pal Ron Wood for the rollicking and typically ramshackle Sailor, and the Dixie Toot with the Chris Barber Jazz Band.

Elsewhere he records Elton John and Bernie Taupin's rocking Let Me Be Your Car (with Elton on piano) but that wasn't considered by them much of tune. They didn't record themselves until years later and only released long after that. Another cast-off.

Quite why he decided to cover Aretha's signature song You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman – with the appropriate gender shift although an unnecessarily overwrought arrangement – is a mystery.

More understandable is him choosing Sam Cooke's Bring It On Home and You Send Me for a medley because they came easy to him.

Hard Road by Vanda and Young (of Easybeats fame) is an unmemorable knockabout boogie of the kind you'd find on a Faces or Stones album.

smilerSo it's the kind of shabby, lazy album that only a big star could get away with – it went to number one – after a brace of successful albums as he'd got away in the previous four years.

It came at the end of a golden period for Rod the soul singer but with his next album Atlantic Crossing he began the move into superstar status.

Smiler was the album between those poles and is probably best skipped over.

We'll ignore the two slight instrumentals but note that among the better songs are his interpretation of Dylan's Girl From the North Country and . . .

That might be it.

Back to the shelf Rod, and wipe that smile off your face.

.

You can hear this album at Spotify here.

Albums considered in this on-going page of essays are pulled from the shelves at random, so we can get the good, the bad or the indifferent from major artists to cult acts and sometimes perverse oddities. 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   The Album Considered articles index

CATE BROTHERS: IN ONE EYE AND OUT THE OTHER, CONSIDERED (1976): Southern soul brothers

CATE BROTHERS: IN ONE EYE AND OUT THE OTHER, CONSIDERED (1976): Southern soul brothers

You rarely find twins Ernie and Earl Cate, originally from Arkansas, in any recent rock or soul encyclopedias and reference books.  In fact, when Elsewhere went looking on our deeply bowed... > Read more

ELLEN SHIPLEY. ELLEN SHIPLEY, CONSIDERED (1979): I'll show you the hit, you show me the money

ELLEN SHIPLEY. ELLEN SHIPLEY, CONSIDERED (1979): I'll show you the hit, you show me the money

In 2009 when an American journalist wrote about corruption and bad practices in the music industry he was surprised that one of the feedback letters came from a Grammy-nominated songwriter who had... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

AOTEAROA PAYS TRIBUTE TO BOB MARLEY (2016): The music and man heard in New Zealand

AOTEAROA PAYS TRIBUTE TO BOB MARLEY (2016): The music and man heard in New Zealand

Some months ago when Universal Music wanted to commission New Zeaand artists to interpret songs from Bob Marley's catalogue, I was invited to write the proposal to be presented to the musicians.... > Read more

THE BARGAIN BUY: Yes; The Triple Album Collection

THE BARGAIN BUY: Yes; The Triple Album Collection

Here's a story from the battleground of fun: In recent months I have -- for purely academic purposes, you understand -- been buying up cheap vinyl by prog-rock and glam-rock bands. It's kinda... > Read more