1971 found Mr. Rodney Stewart in a ridiculous, creative,
productive, and not to say lucrative mind. In 1970 he already released two solo
albums, which were all but Faces albums in name only, ‘An Old Raincoat
Won’t Ever Let You Down’ and ‘Gasoline Alley’, and one album fully
credited to the Faces ‘First Step’. But 1971 saw the Faces - and
particularly their lead singer - shoot to stardom beyond their wildest dreams.
First there was their first top thirty album on both sides
of the Atlantic with ‘Long Player’. Then the first single from Rod
Stewart’s new solo album ‘Maggie May’ went number one worldwide followed
by the release of ‘Every Picture Tells A Story’, which followed the single
to a worldwide number one. This was topped off with another Faces album that
again followed the previous album to number one, ‘A Nod’s As Good As A Wink
To A Blind Horse’. They crammed all this in while doing hundreds of magical
concerts all over the world.
To record ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’ Rod Stewart
surrounded himself with his mates, wrote two new songs with Faces’ mate
Ronnie Wood, the title track and album opener, and one with Martin Quittenton,
‘Maggie May’. The rest were all perfectly selected covers. Some songs make
you want to leap up and hug someone and some will bring you to emotional tears;
Rod Stewart lets all his Sam Cooke influences hang out.
The title track is brought to a dramatic finale with Maggie
Bell of Stone The Crows fame in a grand style duet with Rodney. The chorus
lines in ‘Seems Like a Long Time’ are given a great touch by Madeleine Bell
and old ‘Steampacket’ buddy Long John Baldrey as Rodney slows it all down.
The version of Arthur Crudup’s ‘That’s Alright’
gives a huge nod of affection to Elvis, and Bob Dylan has never been covered
better than ‘Tomorrow Is Such A Long Time’.
‘Amazing Grace’ lives up to its name with some of the
best slide guitar that Ronnie Wood has ever laid down in the studio, and gives
great emphasis to Rod Stewart’s vocals.
Then we get ‘Maggie May’, an all-time classic. The
autobiographical song about a young Rodney Stewart losing his virginity was
given its first showcase on the British TV program Top Of The Pops. Rod
Stewart, backed by his trusty Faces and various monkey suited roadies, and D.J.
John Peel (a non-musician) attempting to look like he could play the wonderful
Ray Jackman mandolin solo with all the others mugged up behind him, had a whale
of a time kicking balloons into the crowd; none of them bothering to hide the
fact that they were only miming to the track. The conservative British
Broadcasting Company was not amused, but they won the hearts of a nation.
‘Mandolin Wind’ is played to perfection with Ray Jackman
of Lindisfarne again staring with his mandolin playing.
‘(I Know) I’m Losing You’ is probably the heaviest
rocker that Rodney or the Faces ever played and used to bring their stage show
to a riotous conclusion. Micky Waller, who plays drums on all the tracks on
‘Every Picture’, would surely have made a better drummer with the Faces
than the rather rigid Kenny Jones; he propels ‘(I Know) I’m Losing You’
along with tremendous power.
Tim Hardin’s ‘Reason To Believe’ brings the album to a
If you want to hear Rod Stewart singing at his best, this is
it. That was before he disbanded the Faces and got out his leotards to ask you
‘Don’t Ya Think I’m Sexy?’ and all the other rubbish he flooded us with
later in the seventies. But anything is forgivable to an artist that can come
out with a slice of perfection like ‘Every Picture Tells A Story’. 1971 was
a good year indeed.