Back in the early seventies, when Rod Stewart had not yet abandoned his own artistic path in order to follow the trends and become a spiky-haired, glitzy pop singer in pink outfits, he wrote some of the best folk rock songs, turned out some of the best cover tunes, and worked with one of the best backing band ever.
If you prefer the Rod Stewart of the 1980s, "Blondes Have More Fun" and all, this might not be your thing. But between 1969 and 1972, Stewart turned out four primarily acoustic albums of folk, rock, blues and country that he has never since come close to matching.
"Gasoline Alley" (the title track is written by the unbeatable team of Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood) sports perhaps the best Bob Dylan cover of all time, a beautiful "Only A Hobo", as well as a hoarse, ragged, folkish version of Elton John's and Bernie Taupin's "Country Comforts", Stewarts own "Lady Day", and an incredibly rocking, reeling "Cut Across Shorty", built around a howling violin, two or three acoustic guitars, and the pounding drums of Kenneth Day Jones.
That one song rocks harder than any acoustic country tune has a right to, and therein lay the genius of Rod Stewart the interpreter and Rod Stewart the songwriter: He and Ronnie Wood knew that you didn't need to pull in Phil Spector, the synth and the horn ensemble to make a folk song sound good. Instead of looking for the rock within the folk, they proved how folk could rock like hell on its own!