Rod Stewart – Every Picture Tells a Story (1971)
Sometimes you can tell if you’re going to enjoy an album within the first few seconds. Every Picture Tells a Story (the song + the record) begins with a 12-string guitar walk-down, culminating in a nice drop D chord as Rod howls the opening lyric. Clearly this was going to be just fine.
For all the highlights, this record was a tale of two mandolin features:
1) Mandolin Wind – A pleasant tune, but strangely its instrument namesake is the least effective part. When it makes its grand entry at 2:37, the double-tracking is dizzying. It improves somewhat with a pattern change at 3:02, but it was tough to shake the image of the Flight of the Conchords digital guitar/electric mandolin setting (at 1:05 of the clip): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JT5AQIlmM0I
2) Maggie May – I had forgotten the mandolin doesn’t appear until the outro (at 4:27). What an appearance though! This is the definitive pop mandolin feature and if I were asked to compile a High Fidelity-esque ‘Top 5 Song Outros,’ it would consistently make the cut.
One would think such a prominent performance would lead to instant worldwide recognition as a Mandolin Virtuoso. Alas, apparently at the time, Rod didn’t think learning the guest mandolin player’s name was essential. The somewhat flippant sleeve credit: “The mandolin was played by the mandolin player in Lindisfarne. The name slips my mind.”