Soul Book | Rod Stewart
One question we get hit with is "Why are all the albums you review given such high ratings?" The answer is simple. We try to review stuff we feel is worthy of your time and hard-earned cash.
Every once in a while an album lands on our desk that has us scratching our heads and asking, "Why?" And so it is with Rod Stewart's latest release Soul Book, released in the fall of 2009. Rod's work with The Jeff Beck Group and Faces is great Rock and Roll Hall of Fame material. Even some of his more recent solo albums, such as Atlantic Crossing, contain some gems, though in truth nothing comes as close as his work with the Faces.
Rod has always had the voice and a penchant for American R&B. And so this album finds him covering some of soul music's greatest hits. It's an embarrassingly unoriginal idea. His renditions of "This Old Heart of Mine," "I Know I'm Losing You," and the blatant rip off of the Betty Wright's classic "Tonight's The Night" are but a few examples. So Rod is a blue-eyed soul brother. To which we reply "So what?" What can we expect next? Rod Sings the Barry Manilow Songbook? Good grief.
This album is like Harley-Davidson making a new Indian motorcycle. It would still just be a Harley with an Indian emblem. Thus, the songs on Soul Book are quite listenable. And there's no faulting the production qualities or musicianship. But the original versions are way better still. Rod brings nothing new to the table in terms of originality or improvisation in covering songs like "If You Don't Know By Now," "My Cherie Amour," "Just My Imagination," "Tracks of My Tears," and the other classics in this album. Rod's renditions are like well-worn retreads-they may be ok, but hardly better than the originals and certainly not worth the money. C'mon Rod. Give Ronnie Wood a call and find your inner rock 'n' roll self.
Groove Alchemy | Stanton Moore
Here's something different. If your tastes run toward the funk side of things, or if you like Booker T and The MG's, Fred Wesley, and The Meters, then brother you need to get this album. Seems Stanton Moore is a drummer who's been involved in all sorts of his native New Orleans' funk-inspired projects. And in attempting to advance the theory of funk, Mr. Moore has concocted Groove Alchemy, a wildly sensational album that seeks to expose the very essence of funk to those of us lacking funk-ucation. Trust me; you'll hardly miss the vocals.
If you have a decent-sounding sound system on your bike, think of this album as a strenuous workout routine for your speakers. Stanton Moore literally pounds the skins off the drums while the remaining members of the trio-organist Robert Walter and guitarist Will Bernard-contribute mightily to the overall groove sensation. Walter sounds like a psychedelic reincarnation of the late, great Jimmy Smith. Meanwhile Will is channeling everyone from Curtis Mayfield to Nile Rodgers. Can you say Wah Wah pedal? Can all of this music be coming from just three dudes? Indeed, the songs on this album will have you bobbing and weaving your way through your favorite stretch of highway. Every track offers up its own lesson in funk-tology. And it's no wonder, as Stanton is a one-man army, very much in demand for drumming duties and is also involved in a myriad of humanitarian, music preservation, and educational projects in post-Katrina New Orleans. The digital age may have given us drum sampling but Stanton Moore is proof that the computer is no replacement for the actual thing. If you wanna hear what real music is supposed to sound like, give the drummer some, as they say, and go buy this CD.