On this day in music history: June 18, 1984 – “Camouflage”, the thirteenth studio album by Rod Stewart is released. Produced by Michael Omartian, it is recorded at Lion Share Studios in Los Angeles, CA from Late Winter – Early Spring 1984. Following the critically maligned “Body Wishes”, rock superstar Rod Stewart knows that a change in musical direction is needed. After seven albums with producer and engineer Tom Dowd, Stewart parts way with him, and works with Michael Omartian on his next album. Known for his work as a studio musician and producer with everyone from Steely Dan to Christopher Cross, Omartian helps returns the veteran rocker to commercial prominence in the US. Sporting a slick, pop oriented sound, it spins off three singles including the top 10 hits “Infatuation” (#6 Pop) and “Some Guys Have All The Luck” (#10 Pop). The video for the first single “Infatuation” (featuring Stewart’s friend and former band mate Jeff Beck on lead guitar, also making a cameo appearance in the video) is directed by Jonathan Kaplan (“The Accused”, “Truck Turner”). The film noir styled black & white clip features actress Kay Lenz, and veteran character actor Mike Mazurki (the old man). At the time of the singles run on the charts, there are two versions of the clip that are shown, each with an alternate ending. “Camouflage” peaks at number eighteen on the Billboard Top 200 and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
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On this day in music history: June 10, 1983 – “Body Wishes”, twelfth studio album by Rod Stewart is released. Produced by Tom Dowd, it is recorded at The Record Plant in Los Angeles, CA from Late 1982 – Early 1983. His first album of new studio material since “Tonight I’m Yours” two years earlier, rock critics still feeling “betrayed” by Stewart’s disco flavored albums “Blondes Have More Fun” and “Foolish Behaviour”, and believing that they haven’t exacted their pound of flesh for his past musical infractions, attack the veteran rocker for his latest effort, calling it “his latest and surely one of his least”. In spite of the negative reviews, it spins off three hit singles including “Baby Jane” (#1 UK, #14 US Pop), and “What Am I Gonna Do (I’m So In Love With You)” (#3 UK, #35 US Pop). The albums cover art pays homage to Elvis Presley’s 1959 greatest hits album “50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong” with Stewart striking a similar pose on the cover. “Body Wishes” peaks at number five on the UK album chart, and number thirty on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: November 24, 1978 – “Blondes Have More Fun” (subtitled “…Or Do They?), the ninth studio album by Rod Stewart is released. Produced by Tom Dowd, it is recorded at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Sounds Interchange, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and Criteria Studios in Miami, FL from Summer – Autumn 1978. The album is one of Stewart’s most successful and controversial. Its centerpiece is the single "Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” (#1 Pop, #5 R&B) whose full on disco sound earns him new fans and disdain from rock critics and older fans, feeling he has sold out to current musical trends. Stewart is also sued by Brazilian composer Jorge Ben when it’s revealed the songs’ refrain is borrowed from his song “Taj Mahal”. The album also spins off the single “Ain’t Love A Bitch” (#22 Pop). The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2000, as part of the Warner Remasters series. It is also issued as a SHM-CD by WMG in Japan in 2009, and packaged in a mini-LP sleeve replicating the original gatefold album sleeve. “Blondes Have More Fun” spends three weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 13, 1976 – “Tonight’s The Night (Gonna Be Alright)” by Rod Stewart hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 8 weeks. Written by Rod Stewart, it is the second US chart topper for the British rock vocalist. Produced by Tom Dowd (Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, The Allman Brothers), the single is recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL and Criteria Studios in Miami, FL, and is the first single released from Stewart’s seventh studio album “A Night On The Town”. Some radio programmers initially ban the record from airplay when the lyric “spread your wings and let me come inside” is deemed too sexually explicit, but listener demand forces it on to the airwaves. Entering the Hot 100 at #81 on October 2, 1976, it rockets to the top of the chart six weeks later. The song is ranked the top single of 1976 by Billboard Magazine. “Tonight’s The Night” is covered by numerous artists over the years, including versions by Linda Clifford, Betty Wright, and Janet Jackson. “Tonight’s The Night (Gonna Be Alright)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 6, 1981 – “Tonight I’m Yours”, the eleventh studio album by Rod Stewart is released. Produced by Jim Cregan and Rod Stewart, it is recorded at The Record Plant in Los Angeles, CA from March – August 1981. After experimenting with disco rhythms and new wave on his previous releases “Blondes Have More Fun” and "Foolish Behaviour", Rod Stewart incorporates more of the latter into the follow up. One major difference this time around, the veteran rocker modernizes his sound by becoming one of the first mainstream rock musicians to employ the use of a drum machine (Oberheim DMX) and more synthesizers into the mix. Those influences are immediately evident in the new albums first two singles “Young Turks” (#5 Pop) and the title track (#20 Pop), which are warmly embraced by the public. Collaborating with songwriter Duane Hitchings and drummer Carmine Appice on the former, “Turks” starts off a demo recorded on an eight track machine with Hitchings utilizing an Oberheim DMA sequencer, OBX-a synthesizer and drum machine. Hitchings, Stewart and Appice take this set up into the studio to record it on to a twenty-four track machine, with Appice playing a hi-hit along with the pre-programmed rhythm from the DMX drum machine. The music video for the song directed by Russell Mulcahy (Duran Duran, Kim Carnes), is significant as it is one of the first clips shown on MTV to feature breakdancing. Writing many of the songs with keyboardist Kevin Savigar and bassist Jay Davis, Stewart also records covers of Ace’s “How Long” (#49 Pop), Johnny Burnette’s “Tear It Up” and Bob Dylan’s “Just Like A Woman”. The track “Never Give Up on a Dream” is dedicated to Canadian marathon runner Terry Fox, who loses his battle with cancer after bravely battling the disease for over four years, running with a prosthetic leg after having his right leg amputated. The album is well received by the public, with Stewart promoting it with the extensive “Worth Leavin’ Home For Tour”, kicking off on November 11, 1981 in Greensboro, NC and wrapping with a three night stand in Boston on April 7-9, 1982. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2011. “Tonight I’m Yours” peaks at number eleven on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 4, 1977 – “Foot Loose And Fancy Free”, the eighth album by Rod Stewart is released. Produced by Tom Dowd, it is recorded at Manta Sound Studios in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Wally Heider Studios and Cherokee Studios in Hollywood, CA from Late 1976 – Mid 1977. Issued as the follow up to the multi-platinum selling “A Night On The Town”, “Foot Loose” proves to be equally successful. His third album to be helmed by veteran engineer and producer Tom Dowd, it is the first to feature musicians such as former Vanilla Fudge drummer Carmine Appice, bassist Phil Chen, and guitarists Jim Cregan and Gary Grangier, all of whom become mainstays of Stewart’s studio and touring band for the next several years. It spins off three hit singles including “You’re In My Heart (The Final Acclaim)” (#4 Pop) and “Hot Legs” (#28 Pop). Originally released on CD in 1988, it is remastered and reissued in 2000. The album is also issued as an SHM-CD by Warner Japan in 2009, packaged in a mini-LP cardboard sleeve replicating the original vinyl LP artwork. “Foot Loose And Fancy Free” peaks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 7x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 2, 1971 – “Maggie May” / “Reason To Believe” by Rod Stewart hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks. Written by Rod Stewart and Martin Quittenton/Tim Hardin, it is the first chart topping single for the British rock superstar born Roderick David Stewart. The single also features former Jeff Beck Group and Faces band mates Ron Wood and Micky Waller on the track. When Waller turns up for the session, it is without his drum kit, believing that one will be already set up in the studio for him. When he discovers there are not, he has to literally borrow gear from other studios in the building. Even then, Waller is unable to locate any crash cymbals, which end up being overdubbed on to the track at another session. Issued as the first single from his third solo album “Every Picture Tells A Story” in July of 1971, Stewart’s cover of the Tim Hardin penned “Reason To Believe” was initially considered the A-side of the single, until DJ’s begin flipping single and playing “Maggie May”, which becomes the A-side by default. Entering the Hot 100 at #62 on July 17, 1971, it climbs to the top of the chart eleven weeks later. The huge success of the single drives the album “Every Picture Tells A Story” to number one the same week, spending four weeks at the top of the Billboard Top 200. “Maggie May” / “Reason To Believe” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.