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A Spanner In the Works (Extended Version)

Rod Stewart

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Album Review

Following the success of Unplugged...and Seated, Rod Stewart had shrewdly repositioned himself as a mature, middle-aged man who still had a slight streak of his wilder days in him. Unsurprisingly, the music both recalled his past glories in instrumentation, yet the attack was different — the acoustics rocked, but it wasn't bracing; it was like a back-porch jam session. Stewart expanded that approach on A Spanner in the Works, his first album since Unplugged. The acoustics are still there, but they're strummed a little more gently and set in a bed of unobtrusive synths. More importantly, Stewart tackles his most ambitious and varied set of material since A Night on the Town. From the pop/rock of Tom Petty's "Leave Virginia Alone" and the reflective take on Dylan's "Sweetheart Like You" through the R&B tribute of "Muddy, Sam and Otis" and the rocking "Delicious" to the British folk of "Purple Heather," the songs recall his classic early albums in ambition and musical diversity. A Spanner in the Works isn't quite as successful as Gasoline Alley or Every Picture Tells a Story — it's a content album, not a probing one, which is appropriate for a middle-aged singer — yet it is the most inspired and ambitious record Stewart released in nearly 20 years.

Biography

Born: 10 January 1945 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Over the course of his career, Rod Stewart has had it all. He's been lauded as the finest singer of his generation, he's written several songs that turned into modern standards, he sang with the Faces, who rivaled the Rolling Stones in their prime, he had massive commercial success. Stewart also saw his critical respect slip away during the '80s, when he recorded lightweight pop and although he did record some terrible albums — and he would admit that freely — Stewart will always be remembered...
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