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The test of a real great singer is versatility. Rod Stewart has it! He's not only a legendary rock star but has become a great balladeer with the birth of "It Had To Be You...The Great American Songbook." He could also sing these time-tested standards from the Great American Songbook, interpret them with feelings and do justice to the songs as well.

I must admit that I only became a fan of Rod the Fab (a title I coined - Rod as the Fabulous interpreter of the Great American Songbook) when he recorded the standards from the GAS, although there were occasional hits he sung that really appeal to me like "Reason To Believe," "I Don't Want To Talk About It" and "You're In My Heart." And now I'm a forty-something fan!

He does it again this time with "As Time Goes By... The Great American Songbook: Volume II." As I mentioned in my review on Volume I, I grew up listening to these songs. Thanks to my late father who greatly influenced my taste in music and at an early age, I learned to appreciate good music and developed an ear for classy music. I took piano lessons in my formative years, thus enhancing my true appreciation not only for classical music, but also jazz standards as well. It was great growing up listening to the music of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Percy Faith, George Gershwin, Henry Mancini, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Kate Smith, Sarah Vaughan, Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Jo Stafford, Doris Day, Patti Page, not to mention Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, Bach, Schubert, among many others.

This CD has flair, distinction and a great sense of style. Congratulations to the men behind this great production: Clive Davis, Richard Perry & Phil Ramone, and to all the musicians involved and of course, the star himself, Mr. Rod Stewart.

It's so nice to listen to these standards with new twists and flavors. The repertoire is tastefully chosen and interpreted in such superb and fabulous fashion with outstanding arrangements. It's hard to single out a favorite track for they are all winners. George & Ira Gershwin's "Our Love Is Here To Stay" and "Someone To Watch Over Me" are my top favorites. His renditions of "Where Or When," "I Only Have Eyes For You," "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and "Until The Real Thing Comes Along" are simply superb and oozing with charms. Other highlights are his engaging duets with Cher and Queen Latifah, "Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered" and "As Time Goes By," respectively. "I'm In The Mood For Love," "Smile" and "Time After Time" are all done in soothing and relaxing manner. My special mention goes to my favorite from the Broadway show, "The Music Man." Mr. Stewart brings new life and fresh style to this beautiful song composed by Meredith Wilson and popularized by the famous Beatles, "Till There Was You."

"Then there was music
And there were wonderful roses
They tell me in sweet fragrant
Meadows of dawn and dew
There was love all around
But I never heard it singing
No I never heard it at all
Till there was you"

I could listen to this CD over and over again without getting tired of it, just like I did with Volume I!

This is "A MUST-HAVE" for young and old alike. Wholeheartedly recommended for your listening pleasure now and forever.
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on October 29, 2003
I've always liked Rod Stewart, but after the distorted "Human," I thought "he's losing it." While it wasn't a total failure, it did not leave one with the impression that this was a talented musician.
Volume II of his Great American Songbook torches those thoughts and misconceptions. Stewart's breathy, haunting, dead-on voice help in delivering these old standards in a way that echoes the old sounds (but with Stewart's own welcomed, trademarked voice) so that a new generation can enjoy them.
I've run across a few of these songs, but they have always sounded dated. Now, though, Stewart breaths new life into these standards; "Time after Time," the opener, is perfect; the delivery, the music, the sound of a man whose career has found new footing.
His duet with Queen Latifah on "As Time Goes By" is, in my opinion, one of the standouts on the album; old and not-as-old come together for a beautiful rendition of an oft-played classic.
A cursory glance and listen will give a wrong impression; that is, the album seems to be nothing more than a lounge singer crooning away his last days. This is not so; Stewart has reinvigorated his career, and this proves it. He has never sounded so alive, so impassioned. It's worth a purchase and multiple listens. We can only hope there will be a volume three.
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on October 26, 2003
I could not imagine a CD being any better than The Great American Songbook, Volume I, but Rod Stewart has done it again. Volume II is nothing less than perfection. From the haunting opening with "Time After Time" to the rousing duet with Cher on "Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered" this album is the best! Rod's raspy voice was made for these ageless standards that have us remembering how it felt to be young, to fall in love, to ache with heartbreak.
If you want the perfect musical soundtrack to put you in the mood for love, this is the one. I can only hope that there might soon be a third volume.
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on January 29, 2004
Rod Stewart lacks the style and heart to make these songs his own. What made performers like Sinatra great was they truly emboldened the songs they sang with a depth and character. They made them their own. Rod Stewart is just a stand in who doesn't contribute anything new to the performance of this music and his signature voice simply kills legendary hits like "I'm In The Mood For Love".
This album isn't about bringing a new vision to the performance of these classics. It's about Rod Stewart trying to milk one last cent out of a fading career. If you want to enjoy a modern restyling of great jazz and vocal favorites, pickup any CD from Diana Krall. She delivers soulful, extraordinary performances in the tradition of Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme, Nancy Wilson, Ertha Kitt, and Frank Sinatra. That's how it's supposed to be done.
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on October 26, 2003
I have no idea why Rod Stewart never sang these kind of songs in the first place. I mean sure, he's got a few every now and then, but I'm not too into his style of music.
Doing these original songs on the other hand, his raspy voice is easily treasured as he sings lyrics we're all familiar with. The duets, which at first I cringed upon reading who they were with, are AMAZING! Cher and Latifah really pull through! Stewart makes you fall in love over and over again with each song as the album progresses. I'm impressed with his renditions on classics like "Time After Time," "I Only Have Eyes For You," and "As Time Goes By." He also has a smooth vibrato in his voice. He glistens notes with beauty and ease, and when he has to belt high notes, astonishingly, he reaches them without struggle.
My favorite track is the first one: "Time After Time," just like the first track in volume I. It's a great opener and promises you it'll only get better! Rod Stewart should be very proud of what he's doing with these 2 albums. Volume II is just as good, if not better than the first. I cross my fingers volume III will see the light of day.
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on November 9, 2003
I've always respected this tousle haired rocker's albums, except for his Disco albums which were big sellers but not my cup of tea. His admiration for these 1930/40 classics shows as he delivers passion and respect to these timeless songs.
What do you get when you mix the unmatched producing talents of Richard Perry, Phil Ramone with the established career of raspy voiced Rod Stewart and an album of unmatched lyrics set to lush arrangements that make you want to cuddle up with your Lady? You get the Great American Songbook II which is a sequel to last years incredibly successful Great American Songbook I. I can't stop listening to these two albums as they make me feel proud of the standards that my parents listened to and I thoroughly enjoy the sensuality that Stewart's voice brings to these impeccibly produced albums.
I've found myself listening to these two classic CD's while doing the dishes and I start doing a two-step with the Mrs. to Don't Get Around Much Anymore...feels great to get off on these songs while enjoying the Lady of your dreams and as per Stewart's liner notes, that's his intention as he's always had that "ladies reputation."
In conclusion, this is a "must buy" for all ages as it harkens us back to the great lyricists of the thirties/forties while updated with the masterful talents of a versatile rocker who grew up on these classics and that is where his passion is derived from. The Sequel, Songbook II will give my Christmas albums alot of competition this December and what's wrong with that as they both make me feel great and that is what life is about...Excellent job by Stewart, Davis, Ramone, Perry and talented studio musicians.
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VINE VOICEon December 29, 2004
If you loved Rod Stewart - as I did - go out and buy the box set "5 Guys Walk Into a Bar..." the fabulous Faces retrospective.

If you love the Great American Songbook, as Mel Torme called it, go out and buy any album by Torme, Sinatra, Fitzgerald et al and leave this set for fauning Oprah audiences. This voice does not do justice to these songs. It demolishes them - no poetry to these readings; just $ signs.

YECHHHH!
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on December 19, 2004
With so much great talent out there, one wonders why anyone pays bucks to listen to the falsetto sandpaper voice of a re-tread who's ruining beautiful standards. (Stewart sounds like he needs a high colonic.) Better to spend your money on Michael Buble, Steve Tyrell, Harry Connick or Joe Williams singing the standards....or simply save your money, dust off that good ol' Sinatra, Dean Martin or Sammy Davis Jr.CD and enjoy!
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on May 27, 2005
I checked this out from the library the other day. It's fairly crass, in my opinion, and cynical and crudely executed, the complement of Rod Stewart's "Do You Think I'm Sexy?" career move.

It includes two alleged "duets", one with Cher, one with Queen Latifah (or whatever it is). The singers merely take turns singing verses, and then they sing in unison, and I mean UNISON, not octaves. Cher's and Queen's voices are strong in this range (I didn't recognize Cher's at all, by the way, she's a better singer than I thought), and Rod's is thin and weak and pathetic--in the "duets" and elsewhere.

The songs seemed to be programmed more or less randomly. The faux Charlie Chaplin (David Raksin of "Laura" really wrote the music, but he's never credited) "Smile" seems to me a particularly tasteless choice. About half of the songs have "synth strings", which should give you an idea of the care (or lack of care) taken with the arrangements. In "Where or When" Rod pronounces "when" like "win", which ruins the rhyme with "then", but oddly enough, he pronounces "when" correctly in "My Heart Stood Still" where "when" is not a rhyming word--he doesn't seem to be paying attention.

Skip this and buy Brian Ferry's "As Time Goes By" instead.
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on October 14, 2006
The performances contained in this CD demonstrate a song stylist master at work.Rod has simply taken all the talent,creativity and energy he has remaining and applied it to these masterpieces.Everyone associated with this recording must certainly be proud of their musical endeavors.In all candor,after listening to this CD for several repeated plays,I can honestly state the the American listening public richly deserves this product. Rod has shown the American Idols winners, and losers, how it's done. They, and other musical hopefuls, can certainly take a page from Rod's "playbook", on how to conduct a successful longterm career in show business.I suspect that Rod has modeled his career from the great singer and showman Cliff "Ukelele Ike" Edwards. Hopefully, Rod's career will continue into his 90's as did Cliff Edwards.
The song selection on this CD and Rod's unnatural interpretation are simply delightful. My personal favorites are," Crazy She Calls me" and Don't Get Around Much Anymore.The later tune delivered,I suspect,with just a wee dose of Rod's special irony. Have you noticed that not only is this music a delight to listen to individually but also fun when used in conducting group singalongs. All the long time Rod fans in my town gather once monthly for fun Rod American Songbook singalong dinner parties. We are also blessed to hear Rod's American Songbook tunes constantly in our local shopping mall. To be honest,I've also taken great comfort in listening to Rod's American songbook stylings in the waiting room of both my Local Vet and car repair shop. These can be stressfull times and I find Rod's song stylings comforting. Finally,I feel compelled to respond to all the naysayers who cast there negativity on Rod's music. Sure,he's not the artist he once was( who is ?) and possibly his voice and stage performance is somewhat limited but he's still that madcap Rod with that million dollar sense of Scots humour.I understand that a possible 2007 US tour is in the planning stages,to take the music"to the people".I'm simply disregarding the unfounded rumours that he may perform on the stage "seated". However, saying that,I'd still love to see Rod perform the American Songbook live, even if he did it lying in his bed.I'd also love to see a live CD with Rod singing the American Songbook with Sam Butera and the Witnesses.A match truly made in heaven. That would be a one time classic performance. Perhaps something could be arranged as a charity event.
Finally, can anyone confirm that Rod's next project is a spoken word tribute CD for Lorne Greene with a possible advance single release of Rod's, special American Songbook treatment, of Mr. Greene's international hit"Ringo"? Rod rules everyday and everyway!!
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