JD WRITES ....
There was a period of time when Rod Stewart was a phenomenal rock singer. His work with Jeff Beck and The Faces was hard to beat. His solo work, of course, is classic. I’d put Maggie May near the top of the list of Great Male Rock Vocals.
Then, it seemed (at least to me) he let success go to his head. He allowed himself to become “trendy,” but to be fair, a lot of rock acts did that. (By “trendy,” I mean specifically they recorded disco songs, which, back then, was treated as the kiss of death.)
Do Ya Think I’m Sexy, to this very day as I type this, is regarded as a “sell out” song. I’m not saying I agree, since numerous rock acts were accused of selling out. Even the Rolling Stones. And most of them were big hits. But that song is a far cry from The Killing of Georgie.
Stewart’s recorded output definitely dropped off in quality. I think going from Stay with Me to Infatuation or Young Turks showed a distinct decline.
But you know what? The guy’s so damned talented, Rod Stewart on a bad day is still better than most rock vocalists on their best day.
ROBERT G WRITES ...
Yes, Rod Stewart. Elton John, too. But I remind, the “major drop off in terms of quality” is subjective, of course. Therefore we answer in terms of our opinions.
For me, maybe others, too, it is about the integrity that one builds within his/her fanbase, friends, etc. Like it or not, a bond of sorts exists between an artist and their audience. Stewart has been careful in his career choices, much to his good fortune and one can’t rule out those successes, but he’s not the same guy that I respected in the early days. It’s not entirely his fault, as the industry itself encourages these changes when potential profits indicate. It is, after all, a business to make money. The sad thing is that his music followed the same downward trajectory. I’d think lots of younger folks today would be disappointed by “The Rod Stewart Album”, or “Gasoline Alley”, for example.
One can say, “Is anyone immune; don’t we all change?” Sure, but a few notables come to mind: Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck, Ian Anderson, Levon Helm, Tom Petty, Brian Wilson, George Strait, Carole King, Lowell George, Joni Mitchell, Paul Rodgers, David Byrne, James Taylor, Ray Charles, Fagen/Becker, Todd Rundgren, George Harrison, Leon Russell, Neil Young. These folks, and others, did and do things in their own way and haven’t significantly strayed from their early vision. Their product may not please everyone, but it is what they want to do, done on their own terms. IMO, the integrity they represented from their early days hasn’t been hugely compromised, and most of the time, it’s reflected in the quality of their music. Stewart and John both capitulated and their music followed.
RICK B WRITES ...
Elvis Presley was innovative and top quality from the mid-50’s through the early 60’s. He had a tremendous influence on the music of the day. Starting in the mid-60’s his voice remained strong but his choice of material went totally down the tubes thanks to the crap movies he was making. The soundtrack songs were pure drivel. Later on he recovered a bit but never up to his very early work. He ended up in Las Vegas slurring the lyrics and unable to even remember all of the words. Sad.