There have been many Rod Stewart compilations over the years but this four-disc set, originally released in 1989 and closing with his just-recorded version of Tom Waits’ Downtown Train, was the most personal, enlivened by his typically honest and often hilarious track guide.
Since the set was released, Rod has battled changing trends and leaner sales years, enjoyed the career revitalisation of his American Songbook series, published his superb autobiography and, most recently, enjoyed a late spurt in his own songwriting.
The songs gathered here, starting in 1964 with Steampacket (including the previously unreleased Can I Get A Witness) before covering his golden run to becoming one of the world’s most beloved singers (including a choice sprinkling of Faces highlights) will inevitably evoke many priceless memories for those over a certain age, from drunken howling to lonely heartache.
Some songs may come with indelible connections, like the inflatable arse in Do Ya Think I’m Sexy on Kenny Everett’s TV show or Handbags & Gladrags, one of the 60s most devastating ballads but now inextricably linked with The Office.
But even if it was all getting a bit glossy by CD four’s 80s outings, immortal gems such as the Jeff Beck tracks and that remarkable early 70s stretch when he produced Gasoline Alley, Every Picture Tells A Story and two stellar Faces peaks in the space of barely two years still stand as titanic entries in one of the all-time great British songbooks, sung by one of the UK’s most inimitable soul voices.