“(I Know) I’m Losing You” – Rod Stewart

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The original version of “(I Know) I’m Losing You” by the Temptations is one of the legendary Motown group’s best songs. But Stewart’s explosive cover from his 1970 masterpiece “Every Picture Tells a Story” is one of those rare covers (like Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower” and Johnny Cash’s “Hurt”) that blows the original out of the water. I feel bad for saying that because the original Temptations song is strong stuff. But I would argue that Stewart here, already one of the greatest vocalists of all time, invests so much of himself into this song that this is a peak which Stewart has yet to duplicate … even 43 years later. Not only does Stewart shred on this song, but that freakin’ drum sound by Mickey Waller will rattle your fillings. Greil Marcus once said that Waller deserved the Noble Prize for Physics for his drumming on this album and I do not disagree one bit.

“Handbags and Gladrags” – Rod Stewart

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Recognize this one? A cover of this was the theme of the UK version of the seminal comedy TV show “The Office.” However, the song was originally written by Manfred Mann’s Mike D’Abo. This version by Rod Stewart from his first solo album in 1969 (called “An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down” in the UK, but was released as “The Rod Stewart Album” in America). Makes you almost forget about “Tonight’s the Night” or “D’Ya Think I’m Sexy?”

“Hot Legs” – Rod Stewart

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Rod Stewart pissed away all of the good will he established in the early 1970s (“Every Picture Tells a Story” is still one of the greatest albums of all time) with increasingly tacky and tasteless (and sadly, more commercially successful) material. “Hot Legs” from 1977 is arguably Rod at his most tacky and tasteless … but this is still a damn good raunchy hard rock song. With the exception of “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” if there was ever song tailor-made for strip clubs, I don’t know what is.

I really love the primitive, early music-video aesthetics at play here in the video, by the way.

“Hotel Chambermaid” – Graham Parker and the Rumour

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A standout track from Parker’s 1976 album “Heat Treatment.” The song has not only been a part of Parker’s live set for several years, but was also covered by Rod Stewart in 1998. Trivia note: the T-shirt that Parker wears on the “Heat Treatment” album cover was one that I owned and wore when I was 6 years old. I don’t know what that says about me … or Parker for that matter … only that I feel like a rock star as much as anyone would wearing a T-shirt showing symmetrical lions in a pattern.

“I Ain’t Superstitious” – Jeff Beck Group (with Rod Stewart on vocals)

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Slammin’, concussion-producing, metallic blues one year before Led Zeppelin’s debut. It’s songs like this that make you lament the direction Rod Stewart went from the mid-1970s until today. Until that time, Stewart was one of the finest (if not THE finest) rock vocalist of the era. This cover of Willie Dixon’s blues classic was also put to great use in Martin Scorsese’s “Casino” when the casino boss played by Robert DeNiro and his crew zero in on a scam taking place out at the tables.

“Borstal Boys” – The Faces

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Once upon a time, there was a vocalist from England who was probably the greatest rock singer of his time (the late 1960s/early 1970s).  He achieved some critical respect as lead singer of The Jeff Beck Group and The Faces and a couple of decent solo albums.  However, he decided that critical acclaim and minor commercial success wasn’t enough … he needed greater fame.  So my theory is that he went to the same crossroads that Robert Johnson went to many years ago and made a deal with Satan for commercial success.  Satan’s deal was that this singer would record one legendary, phenomenal album (“Every Picture Tells a Story”) and then with each progressive album, the quality would go down slightly … and then keep going down.  So, the next solo album (“Never a Dull Moment”) was pretty good, but not as good as the previous endeavor … and then, this once great vocalist would progressively get worse (1978’s “D’ya Think I’m Sexy?”) … and then hitting the bottom of the barrel with sub-Tom Jones / Broadway garbage during the 1990s and 2000s that paradoxically was ridiculously successful commercially.  Rick Rubin, if you’re out there, another terrific singer on the artistic skids needs your help!!!!!