ALBUMS / He still wears it well: Andy Gill on Rod Stewart and the week's other new releases


Unplugged . . . and Seated

(Warner Bros 9362-45289-2)

APART from its ability to attract the biggest names in rock, the success of the MTV Unplugged format relies on a more intimate level of performance, free of the prevailing bombast of stadium rock: it's a way to reach millions in a small-club atmosphere. At its best it can return to rock some of its freshness. But sometimes, the intimacy alone is enough.

So it is here, with Rod seated and thus mercifully prevented from wiggling his bum at the audience, concentrating instead on giving close to definitive renderings of some of his best material, with old mucker Ronnie Wood at hand to chip in tasty slide-guitar. Introducing his first live version of Tim Hardin's 'Reason to Believe' since he recorded it 22 years ago, Rod marvels at the passage of time. 'Most of the band weren't born,' he states, laddishly. 'Me wife was only one]' 'Hwurrgh hwurrgh,' chortles Ron, the most cheerfully disgusting sound you'll ever hear.

Despite problems balancing the thinner sound of Ron's country-blues licks with a rhythm section that makes few allowances for lack of amplification, there's an elasticity to songs like 'Every Picture Tells A Story' and 'Maggie May' that's entirely winning. The ragged raunch of old Faces cuts like 'Stay With Me' is less successful, but the masterstroke is the introduction of a string section, adding emotional uplift to a handful of songs beginning with Curtis Mayfield's 'People Get Ready', taking in Van Morrison's 'Have I Told You Lately' and peaking with a sublime reading of Tom Waits' 'Tom Traubert's Blues (Waltzing Matilda)' - all of them evidence of Rod's great taste in covers.


What's Love Got to Do with It

(Parlophone CDPCSD 128)

THIS IS another sort of disguised greatest hits package, being the soundtrack to the forthcoming film based on her life. There are a handful of new songs - the best is Lulu's 'I Don't Wanna Fight' - but for the most part the album offers meticulously reworked versions of songs like 'Nutbush City Limits' and 'Proud Mary'. Oddly, a version of The Trammps' 'Disco Inferno' is included, complete with weedy Seventies synthesiser noises, while 'River Deep, Mountain High' is notable by its absence. As for Ike, condemned by history to wear the black hat in Tina's life story, perhaps it's not surprising that he's only allowed a couple of song credits; and it can't be coincidental that one of these is 'A Fool for Love', whose call-and-response chorus has taken on a retrospective significance: 'You know you love him / You can't understand / Why he treats you like he do / When he's such a good man.'



(Chrysalis CTCD 34)


Innercity Griots

(4th & Broadway BRCD 595)

RAP continues to spread its virus into jazz; or is it the other way round? On Jazzmatazz, the Gang Starr rapper Guru is joined by a selection of Seventies jazz-funkers (Roy Ayers, Donald Byrd, Lonnie Liston Smith) and new US and Brit jazzers (Branford Marsalis, Courtney Pine, Ronny Jordan) on a series of pairings which, though enjoyable, steer too close to easy-listening muzak for discomfort. Guru's hipster-cool voice is agreeable, but he has little to say here; and the musicians, apparently, even less. It's not unpleasant, but the chaotic thrill of even the simplest rap sample-collage is nowhere to be found.

Jazz is only part of the Freestyle Fellowship's thing, and apart from one track - the swinging poetry / jazz groove 'Park Bench People' - they don't use a real band, relying on the more traditional excitements of P-Funk and Kool & The Gang samples when they're not pursuing complex a capella formulations. The album title is instructive, the four rappers offering a South Central LA version of the West African 'griot' tradition (a kind of lyrical historian and 'praise singer'). The freestyle part of their name, meanwhile, indicates their belief in rap as the verbal equivalent of jazz soloing.

For subject matter, they ransack their surroundings, situation and history: 'Cornbread' is a free-associative batch of images from a childhood, and 'Mary' a pro-cannabis ode, while the usual rap territory of drive-bys and bitches is dealt with more ironically than usual.



(Beggars Banquet BBQ CD 140)

'THIS year for Lent . . . give up pop,' advise the American avant-rockers Mercury Rev in their sleevenote to this second album. They practise what they preach: 'Meth of a Rockette's Kick', the 10-minute opening track, begins gently, with pastoral flute, building to a cacophony akin to the Velvets' 'Sister Ray', then adding a barrage of bathetic trombones.

Not for them the mundanities of verse, chorus and middle eight; their method is to leap into the void, with tangential explorations enthusiastically pursued. At the Royal Albert Hall a few months ago, the sextet added three ambient guitars strung above the stage, picking up vibrations and feeding them back into the maelstrom. This astonishing album captures the thrill of heading at 90mph down a dead-end street, and miraculously finding an escape turn at the last moment. Or, sometimes, not.

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders