Rod Stewart: Merry Christmas, Baby

Festive frolics with Roderick the red-nosed rocker.

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’Tis the season to be generous, so let us try to drink a cup of kindness to Rod’s cash-in collection of wintry heart-warmers.

Always a populist crowd-pleaser, the 67-year-old rocker-turned-crooner’s choice of Yuletide standards is predictably conservative, as is the abundance of clichéd festive signifiers here. Children’s choir on Silent Night? Check. Bagpipes on Auld Lang Syne? Check.

But in fairness, Rod’s soulful remakes of creaky old favourites like Let It Snow and White Christmas glide along on twinkly, jazzy, silken arrangements that provide mellifluous counterpoint to his agreeably unpolished vocal approximations of Louis Armstrong or Bing Crosby. The ‘virtual’ duet with Ella Fitzgerald on What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? is classier than it sounds, while Wish Upon A Star has the fragile, late-night melancholy of vintage Chet Baker.

All the same, a few more unorthodox seasonal classics, like John Lennon’s Happy Xmas (War Is Over), might have added a little much-needed spice to this over-treacled pudding.

Stephen Dalton

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.