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. The now iconic cover taken by French photographer Claude Mougin (Olivia Newton-John, Shaun Cassidy, Leo Sayer), features Stewart with then girlfriend (soon to be wife) Alana Hamilton. The album sleeve’s distinctive text graphics are created by artist Mike Manoogian (Toto, George Benson, Rick James). “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. The inspiration for the song comes from America’s
“Today’s The Day” (included on their sixth album “Hideaway”). Stewart is over at the home studio of America band member Dan Peek when he hears their song. Rod then tells Peek that it has given him an idea for song of his own. 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. The track also features a vocal cameo by his then girlfriend, actress Britt Ekland speaking in French. “Tonight’s The Night” is the first single released from Stewart’s seventh studio album, “A Night On The Town” in September of 1976. 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: July 21, 1972 – “Never A Dull Moment”, the fourth album by Rod Stewart is released. Produced by Rod Stewart, it is recorded at Morgan Studios in Willesden, London, UK and Olympic Studios in Barnes, London, UK from March – May 1972. Issued as the follow up to his highly successful breakthrough release “Every Picture Tells A Story”, the album features many of the same musicians including Stewart’s Faces band mates Ron Wood, Kenney Jones and Ian McLagan. Comprising of four original songs and five covers, Stewart records Jimi Hendrix’ “Angel” in tribute to the late musician as a well as “Mama You Been On My Mind”, written by Bob Dylan, and “I’d Rather Go Blind”, first recorded by Etta James. It spins off three singles including “You Wear It Well” (#1 UK, #13 US Pop) and “Twistin’ The Night Away”. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 1998, also being released as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2015. “Never A Dull Moment” hits number one on the UK album chart , number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
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.