Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate uncertain, is the 1988 fifteenth album Out Of Order by rocker Rod Stewart. Is this album a big broken mess, or will you think it’s sexy? Read on…
The album opens with the lead single Lost In You, which burst in with some up-tempo bass drum kicks and growling guitar before giving way to that familiar husky vocal of Sir Rod. This is a great sounding leap into this album, and puts him truly into up-beat pop-rock, that feels contemporary, perhaps aided by bass from former-Duran Duran member Andy Taylor, who holds writing credits throughout this album. It’s a nice chugging number, which took this track to #21 in the UK singles chart in early summer 1988.
Guitars usher in The Wild Horse, and rides into a hard beat that keeps a mid-tempo that’s a step down from the previous song. This number feels more rock although a piano joins in just before the chorus. There’s a couple of ex-Chic members performing in this track (bass and drums), but they feel perhaps a little underplayed in this song. A couple of guitar solos give Andy a spot to shine. The female backing vocalists really help to highlight Rod’s vocals in the chorus. It’s quite a nice little track.
There’s a Lethal Dose Of Love next, and this really is a chugging rock number. It’s stadium drums, raw vocals, guitar solos. Surprisingly this wasn’t a single, as I could imagine Rod’s video for this. The guitars are interspersed with some 80’s Obligatory Saxophone bursts.
The tempo and rock are both dialled down, for Forever Young – the album’s second single. Legendary songwriter and musician Bob Dylan received a belated songwriter’s credit for this track. It doesn’t appear here in the sleeve, but it was added in later releases after it was noted the similarity to one of his tracks. This track has lighter guitars, softer beats, and Rod gets to do some echoey softer vocals. Despite this, the track stumbled, and only reached #57 in the UK singles chart.
Third and final single My Heart Can’t Tell Me No follows this, and we’re still in the softer mid-tempo tracks. The track was co-written by Simon Climie (of Climie Fisher), and it gives Rod some great opportunities to show off his distinctive vocals around the choruses. He’s backed with strings that help to show them off perfectly. It’s a nice enough track, but this is the third one in a row of a similar style. The single got stuck at #49 in the UK singles chart.
Dynamite explodes across the speakers, and we’re definitely back on form. The tempo is up, the guitars are racing, Rod sings like he’s smiling, and he even laughs. This is far far better – a complete foot tapper with catchy lyrics, and it would have suited much better as a UK single, but sadly it either wasn’t released here, or it failed to chart at the time. It was the 5th and final single.
Guitars roar in next track Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out. This track definitely sounds like it’s from the 80s. The guitars and synths make this clear, but it gives it a charm. Rod’s vocal performance is on fine form again – giving the powerful guitars a run for their money, although Michael Landau’s solo is a wonderfully intricate piece of work. At a couple of times, I’m reminded a little bit of Suicide Blonde by INXS.
Up next is Crazy About Her, which continues to make me get that INXS vibe, and it carries a really nice and catchy saxophone riff that gives me a melody that I really recognise but can’t quite put my finger on (it’s uncredited, and probably a later date). I really like this track. Again it was a single elsewhere, but I suspect it could have been a success in the UK.
Rod covers Try A Little Tenderness next for some reason, first recorded by Ray Nobel Orchestra with Val Rosing, but most notably recorded by Otis Redding and Bing Crosby amongst many others. It’s a paint-by-numbers crooner hit, and perhaps a precursor for what would become a cash cow for him 20 years later with his American Songbook albums. Right now, sat on this album, it’s just a weird choice.
We’re still in ballad town for penultimate track When I Was Your Man, although thankfully a lot better than the previous track. A gentle rimshot, slow bass carries Rod’s heartfelt vocals through to the rockier bursts for the chorus. 80s Obligatory Saxophones returns for a growling solo in the middle. They return for a key change to take the track out.
Final track Almost Illegal returns us to pop rock, with chugging guitars, powerful vocals and a hard bass/snare beat. Whilst the lyrics are pretty simple it’s quite singable, and you’ll fall into that trap by the time it finishes. The track is as great an ending, as Lost In You was the start. The guitars really get to shine here, almost duelling with Rod’s vocals and his dropping some ‘ha’ and ‘woah!’ bursts in as if to catch it out. There’s even a fiddle in there, but it doesn’t overpower, but adds an extra layer in the final third. The album goes out on a high.
Over all, a surprisingly good album with some belters and a few tender moments too.
Try A Little Tenderness feels like the duff track of the set, and stands as a misplaced low point, but all n all, the album pretty much works with that familiar husky voice.
- POP RESCUE 2020 RATING: 4 / 5
- 1988 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #11, certified Gold.
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.00 from a Wood Green Animal Shelter store.