Let me start by saying that there’s nothing particularly egregious here…Still the Same: Great Rock Classics of Our Time is pleasant enough and goodness knows it’s all certainly more than familiar (I know I was singing along the first time I heard the CD)…but, that said, it’s all rather predictable and more than a little bland.
(We shall skip past the notion that the term “rock classic” is broad enough to include treacle such as Bread’s “Everything I Own” or John Waite’s “Missing You” without further comment.)
Stewart sounds more comfortable covering these rock era songs than he did croaking his way through the “Great American Songbook” on his last four discs but, that said, he really doesn’t bring anything new to the songs. If you’re going to cover songs as familiar as Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love”, The Eagles’ “Best of my Love”, or Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain”, you should strive to bring something new to the table or don’t bother doing them at all (the originals, of course, being readily available to be enjoyed.)
Stewart has been an able interpreter of songs written by others, of course…Tom Waits’ “Downtown Train”, Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately”, Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready”, etc….and he could bring out unique nuances in his versions. Be here he just sings them in karaoke versions that are so much like (or, worse, so inferior to) the originals that they become instantly pointless to anyone other than a truly diehard Rod Stewart fan.
To be fair, Stewart’s take on Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son” is rather poignant and there’s some emotional weight to his cover of “Love Hurts” but for the most part the record just sort of comes and goes without making much of an impression (other than, perhaps, to remind us of how amazing “I’ll Stand by You” sounds when sung by Chrissie Hynde or what a grand a pop song “Day After Day” is when done by Badfinger.)
Still the Same indeed.