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This review is from: Reason To Believe: The Complete Mercury Studio Recordings (3CD) (Audio CD)
This superb 2002 collection gathers every track Rod Stewart recorded for Mercury Records between 1969 and 1974, and the retail price is surprisingly moderate.
But that should not be taken to indicate any lack in quality. These 56 songs include remastered versions of all 46 songs from his first five solo albums, as well as ten outtakes (half of which previously appeared on the excellent double-disc "Handbags And Gladrags" retrospective). Ten non-LP songs isn't all that much if you already has all five studio albums ("The Rod Stewart Album", "Gasoline Alley", the fabulous "Every Picture Tells A Story", "Never A Dull Moment" and "Smiler"), but if you don't, this is an excellent way to acquire all of Rod Stewart's very best material in one fell swoop.
The non-LP songs include a good take on "Pinball Wizard", a heartfelt "Every Time We Say Goodbye", and Rod Stewart at his most "country", doing a really great "What Made Milwaukee Famous".
Stewart's first four studio albums went from great to sublime, after which "Smiler" was a bit of disappointment, but it too brings several fine songs to the party.
There are almost too many highlights to mention; originals like "Lost Paraguayos", "Gasoline Alley", "Every Picture Tells A Story", the beautiful "Mandolin Wind", and the classic "Maggie May", and some of the best cover songs ever, courtesy of the greatest interpretive singer of the last 40 years:
"Street Fighting Man", "Only A Hobo", "Country Comforts", an incredible "Cut Across Shorty", and the best ever rendition of "That's All Right".
To me, this tough, superbly melodic, and extremely well-arranged folk-rock ranks among the best music of the seventies.
The only drawback is that the flow of the original albums has been disturbed, but that is a minor complaint. Rarely has this much excellent music been gathered on one album.