LIVE from Your Speakers: Rod Stewart, ABSOLUTELY LIVE

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Live albums like KISS ALIVE, Peter Frampton’s FRAMPTON COMES ALIVE and Cheap Trick’s AT BUDOKAN served for many listeners as entry points to discographies that were three or four or more albums deep at the time. You say you like “I Want You to Want Me,” or “Strutter,” or “Do You Feel Like We Do” with the crowd noise behind them? Well, friend, there’s plenty more where those came from.


By the time Rod Stewart got around to recording a live record (not counting Faces’ COAST TO COAST: OVERTURE AND BEGINNERS, though we probably should, because it’s very cool), he was a well-known and much-loved figure, one of the biggest rock stars on the planet, and the possessor of a deep and bestselling pile of albums and singles. Upon the release of ABSOLUTELY LIVE in 1982, who hadn’t heard “Hot Legs,” “Tonight’s the Night,” “Maggie May” or by-goodness “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy”?  Set in the context of live performance, though, these and a brace of other Stewart classics brim with new energy and make the double LP a double-dose of fun for old fans and new converts alike.


Almost predictably, then-recent Stewart hits and album tracks are given featured spots on the record. “Young Turks” and “Tonight I’m Yours” rev up the proceedings with a synthy sheen, while “Passion” adds a smooth dance groove to those keys. Other new tracks – “She Won’t Dance with Me,” “Tear It Up” and “I Guess I’ll Always Love You” – are straight-up rockers and fit in really well with Stewart’s classic material.


And what classics they are. “Rock My Plimsoul” hearkens back to his days in the Jeff Beck Group, and Stewart shows off his blues chops, while his takes on Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Rock ‘n’ Roller” and “Little Queenie” reveal him to be the jukebox master he is. The ballads are all lighter-worthy – “Sailing” and “I Don’t Want to Talk About It” get you where you live. But the show-closing rave-up on “Stay with Me” (with vocal assistance by Kim Carnes and Tina Turner) leaves you the same way any good Stewart show leaves you – happy, but wanting more.


Cue up ABSOLUTELY LIVE when you need a fun pick-me-up, or when you just want to hear your favorite Rod Stewart songs played to a crowd you’ve suddenly joined.


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