When you are young it is the little things that seem so important and pop music plays such a large role in your life because it provides the soundtrack to your love life, your philosophy and your whole lifestyle.
For many working class youth who wanted a break from dancing but couldn't be arsed with the po-faced head-wanking of the likes of Pink Floyd and ELP, Rod the Mod provided us with everything we could wish for: He wasn't particularly good-looking but he managed to bed all the best looking women. He sometimes sang about a life that was beyond us, but one that we could wish for:
Daddy says he'll buy me car
to drive just as far as I need
He wants me back at any expense
He's got a lot more money than sense
His singing range was well within the grasp of any of us who could hold a tune and he was a bloke that many hetro young males could actually be in love with without being accused of being gay.
Rod seemed to sum up life for us: Football (when it actually meant something and was not something for middle-class kidults to read about in the Guardian and force themselves to watch boring friendlies on Skysports), girls and money (or lack of). He was one of us: a kid; though his voice sounded as if it knew so much of life.
Rod was one of those who wrote simple lyrics that sounded more profound than they actually were:
She was tall, thin and tarty
and she drove a Maserati
faster than sound
I was heaven bound
He could make other people's songs his own, think Angle. Each Faces period album had a song by Sam Cooke and Bob Dylan and like most Dylan songs they sounded much better when sung by someone else. The version of Mama, you've been on my mind on this album is a perfect example and is the first time I realised that Dylan was capable of writing really beautiful songs. As for Angel, well for any of us who were aware of the Hippy crap, Hendrix might as well have been doing a bad job of a Rod Stewart song. Lines like "silver wings silhouetted against a charred sunrise" lost all their PO-etry pretentiousness and were brought down to Earth as if this was the sort of thing that you said to your loved-one every day.
You Wear It Well is one of the few tracks that still sends a shiver down my back. The lines:
Remember them basement parties, your brother's karate
the all day rock and roll shows
Them homesick blues and radical views
haven't left a mark on you,
may not mean anything to young people today but it said to us that Rod was well in tune with the things that concerned us.
It is quite common to think of working class youth (particularly males) at that time as bigoted scumbags, yet we thought nothing of the obvious homosexuality of Ziggy Stardust or Alladin Sane and were defiant enough to plaster our faces with our girlfriend's make-up (a decade before the narcissistic, poncey, New Romantics)and likewise we saw nothing strange in Rod Stewart - this epitome of working class laddish lifestyle - proclaiming his predilection for cross-dressing in the line "and I'll wear it well".
It is always easy to slag off other people's tastes and passions for pop music because pop, by its very nature, relies on appealing to a certain sentiment and, as such, is very subjective. Although many critics think that pop can be treated in the same way as classical music, and will go on and on about the competence (or lack of) of some guitarist or the production of some album, at the end of the day it is completely meaningless. Pop music just isn't that important (and by `Pop music' I include all those prog rockers and politicos) its value lies in the moment and the fact that an old bastard like me can spend an hour or so writing a review of a pop album says more about me than it does the album. I do think that the state of youth music today is awful, but not for the reason that my father found Rod Stewart awful. For him my tastes in pop were offensive to his aesthetics. Today's pop music sounds stale, and much of it is just a rehash of stuff I was listening to in the early 70s.
At the end of the day I can only say that Never A Dull Moment is one of the few albums that produces a feeling of nostalgia in me. It is everything that student bands like Oasis tried, and failed, to be. And although Oasis were more commercially successful than Rod Stewart (at the time) you just couldn't get past the fact that it was all pretence.
But isn't all pop music pretence?