Release Date: Oct 30, 2012
Record label: Verve
Genre(s): Adult Contemporary, Holiday, Pop/Rock, Holidays
Even if Rod Stewart’s aura of self-regard has sullied your enjoyment of his hits, you’d have to be a grinch to deny his vocal gift. As a deceptively straightforward rocker with the Faces, Stewart merged the disparate techniques of Sam Cooke and Mick Jagger to grand, if short-lived, effect, and his first half-dozen solo albums excelled in both songwriting and song selection while expanding his interpretive range and further emphasizing the debt to Cooke. Over the past decade, Stewart’s pitch to aging boomers has included several entries in the Great American Songbook series, throughout which, if the material occasionally outmatched him, the singer distinguished himself from other reformed rockers as a credible almost-crooner.
Following his Great American Songbook covers series, Rod Stewart seems a long way from his rollicking roots. His first Christmas album features easy-listening takes on seasonal standards (Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, White Christmas) and traditional carols. The album does its job – the 67-year-old's husky rasp sounds as Christmassy as a log fire and, when the lush instrumentation creates a warm glow, you can almost smell the chestnuts roasting.
Hard as it may be to believe, but Rod Stewart has gotten through five decades without succumbing to a holiday album. That streak ends in 2012 with the release of Merry Christmas, Baby, an easygoing and chipper collection of secular seasonal standards. A couple of carols are thrown in for good measure but these songs -- "Silent Night," "We Three Kings" presented as a duet with Mary J.
There’s only one essential Rod Stewart purchase this Christmas: his autobiography. The hilarious, frank and self-deprecating story of how one of the great rock vocalists rose to fame and fortune, making fabulous music along the way before settling into his role as vendor of an endless succession of I-could-not-give-a-shit-any-more covers albums, of which this is the latest. Mary J Blige, Ella bloody Fitzgerald and the odious Cee Lo (see above) all phone in a hand, but… look, just get the book, OK? It’s brilliant, and this isn’t.Hamish MacBain .
Rod’s first festive collection finds the crooner on fine fireside form. Mike Diver 2012 Rarely are record reviews as pointless as this one. If you know how Rod Stewart sounds, and are aware of these songs’ traditional arrangements (sole new number aside), then you already know what Merry Christmas, Baby has in store. And whether or not you’re going to want to pick it up from one.