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A long-forgotten classic
on July 28, 2003
Back in the early seventies, when Rod Stewart had not yet abandoned his own artistic path in order to become a spiky-haired, glitzy pop singer in pink outfits, he wrote some of the best folk rock songs, turned out some of the best cover tunes, and worked with one of the best backing band ever.
If you prefer the Rod Stewart of the 1980s, "Blondes Have More Fun" and all, this might not be your thing. Teenagers will generally look bewildered if you play them this kind of music, and look at you like you're from another planet if you profess to enjoy it.
But never mind them, what do kids know?! To me, the four primarily acoustic albums that Rod the Mod turned out between 1969 and 1970-something, remain the best items in his entire catalogue. Tough, organic folk, gritty blues, swaggering rock, and melodic country blended together and stirred with a drumstick...and, to me, "Gasoline Alley" is the best of the lot, alongside "Every Picture Tells a Story".
"Gasoline Alley" (the sublime title track is written by Rod and Ronnie Wood) sports perhaps the best Bob Dylan cover of all time, a beautiful "Only A Hobo", as well as a hoarse, ragged, folkish version of Elton John's and Bernie Taupin's "Country Comforts", Stewarts own "Lady Day", and an incredibly rocking, reeling "Cut Across Shorty", all guitars, drums and a lone violin. It ought to be hokey, but it's not!
I can't remember who it was that wrote something like this about this album:
"-Instead of looking for the rock within the folk, [Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood] proved that folk could rock like hell on its own!" But it's damn right, and that's why I'm blatantly stealing the quote here. This isn't really a rock n' roll record in the traditional sense, but does it ever rock and roll!