Deep Dive: Rod Stewart, WHEN WE WERE THE NEW BOYS
Today we celebrate the birthday of one Roderick David Stewart, a gentleman known to his friends, fans, and damned near everyone else as Rod. To commemorate the occasion, we thought we’d take a look back at one of his most underrated endeavors, an album which found Stewart tackling some seriously unexpected tunes and doing so rather well.
Co-produced by Stewart and Kevin Savigar, WHEN WE WERE THE NEW BOYS may not have been a stone-cold smash from a commercial standpoint, but it certainly captured the attention of the critics. “Nobody stays forever young, so it’s heartening to hear signs of life on WHEN WE WERE THE NEW BOYS, Rod Stewart’s strongest studio recording in years,” wrote David Wild in Rolling Stone, and he was not the only critic who had positive things to say about the LP.
Not that Stewart hadn’t already handily proved his ability to take someone else’s composition and deliver a rousing interpretation that made the song his own, but you can understand why eyebrows were raised when word got out that he’d recorded covers of songs by Oasis, Primal Scream, Skunk Anansie, The Waterboys, Superstar, Ron Sexsmith, Graham Parker, and Nick Lowe. No matter what you may think of his performances on these tracks, the mere fact that he had the balls to do them is still impressive, but the fact of the matter is that Stewart does a great job tackling “Cigarettes and Alcohol,” “Rocks,” and, yes, even “Weak.”
There are a couple of original tracks in the bunch, and since we haven’t mentioned it yet, yes, there’s also a version of The Faces’ “Ooh La La,” but the majority of the album exists to show the kids that Rod’s still got it. Granted, the fact that he promptly followed the album with The Great American Songbook may not have done his rock rep any favors, but give this LP a listen, and you’ll find a lot to love.
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