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Rod Stewart – Gasoline Alley (1970)

August 12, 2015

[Album 415/1001]220px-RodStewartGasolineAlley

“Going home, running home, down to Gasoline Alley where I started from”
-Rod Stewart, Gasoline Alley

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I’d like to think Rod was referencing the ‘Gasoline Alley’ found in Ontario, on Highway 11 between Barrie and Orillia.

Regrettably, I wasn’t able to listen to Gasoline Alley while driving through Gasoline Alley (or at least hopefully driving through and not stopped in cottage country traffic).  Added to the bucket list.

But if this undated, search engine image result is representative of Rod’s southbound journey to Gasoline Alley, it looks like he’d have no trouble getting there!

1297323859167_ORIGINAL

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I had no trouble finding plenty to like here.

I was also delighted to find the LP for $2.

This September 1970 record is more subdued than his July 1971 follow-up Every Picture Tells a Story, and perhaps not quite as marvelous as Faces’ November 1971 record A Nod is as Good as a Wink…to a Blind Horse.

In any event, throw in another 1971 Faces album somewhere in between, and that’s got to be one of the more prolific & terrific 14-month spans by any artist!

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Other contenders for amazing 14-month stretches?

The two that jumped to mind for me were:

– Robert Zimmerman from March 1965 – May 1966.  Bringing it all Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde.  Yeah, I’d say that’s 3 for 3.

– Reginald Kenneth Dwight from November 1971 – October 1973.  OK, it’s 23 months in his case, but the quartet of Madman Across the Water, Honky Château, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player, and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road makes for quite the 23-month body of work!

I used to think a true artist had to write his/her own material but over the years I’ve changed my tune.

Rod wrote/co-wrote some of the Gasoline Alley tunes but it doesn’t bother me in the slightest that he didn’t pen them all.

He was smart enough to play to his strengths, which I’d say is laying his patented raspy voice over some delicious instrumentation, including but not limited to bottleneck guitars, mandolins & violins.

It also doesn’t hurt that the aforementioned Bob Dylan and Elton John provided a couple of the songs (Only a Hobo and Country Comforts); you could certainly do a lot worse for source material!

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From → 1970s

39 Comments
  1. Now you’re talking my language! I love Rod Stewart, I love this whole period of Rod Stewart. It would be nice if he decided to do rock music like this again.

    • The first Rod song I heard growing up was his unplugged concert version of ‘Have I told you lately.’ And Until the last few years, I associated Rod Stewart with continuous light hits radio.

      So it was neat to hear this more rocking era, the last track on here felt very Black Crowes-y, which is never a bad feeling!

      • I have Rod unplugged — deluxe with bonus tracks and DVD! Is “Have I Told You Lately” the one where he chokes up mid-song? I think it is.

  2. I admit to be quite bereft of experience with Rod’s early work but do enjoy his vocals and he’s quite good at interpreting other artists’ work. Tom Waits, Oasis, etc. Perhaps I need to sit down with a few of his early records.

    • Forgot about his cigarettes & alcohol cover, thanks for the reminder!
      If not this one, every picture tells a story or a nod is as good as a wink…to a blind horse would be 2 other good, and chattily-titled, starting points!

  3. I love this era of Rod too. Never A Dull Moment is a great album as well. That came out after Every Picture Tells a Story but I can’t remember when so I don’t know if that helps or hinders your 14 month span thing…?

    But Manowar are clearly the winners anyway. Into Glory Ride, Hail to England and Sign of the Hammer all in a 13 (or so) month stretch. And Hail and Sign are the two best albums ever of all time so they definitely win that (even though I doubt they made the 1001 book. Like all the great geniuses, they have been misunderstood and ridiculed in their own time!)

    • Ever of all time – now that’s my kind of time span!
      I’m woefully undereducated about Manowar, but I quite like how productive they were in a short period of time, however misunderstood by the masses!

      • Yeah, I think that kind of prolific output is pretty rare now. I guess bands just focus on touring more…

        Without wiki-ing for precise details, Saxon had a fast run of great albums on their early years. Two of their best albums were done in the same year. And KISS put out their first 3 and Alive! in just a couple of years I believe! And the early Sabbath ones must have came out in pretty short order I imagine.

      • Good point about the touring emphasis, I guess that’s where there’s more $ to be had.

        I was thinking about that rare prolific output nowadays. You’d think with listener attention spans dwindling and technology advancing, more artists would just be churning out more music more frequently.
        Perhaps it’s for the best that they’re not!

      • I know what you mean. I still prefer the album as the “thing” but I often wonder why more bands don’t release EPs or mini-albums more often rather than full albums.

      • They should. But remember when the Cult did that? Then they just gave up on the EP format and did an album anyway.

      • That’s right. I wonder why that was? I’m guessing it’s easier for a big(ish) band to publicise an album as being an “event” rather than just putting out EPs to little or no fanfare. I remember Down doing a run of EPs though and that seemed to work out ok for them. Obviously the smaller unsigned bands keep things to EP length for their promos, demos and whatnot.

      • I remember Down doing that. But perhaps they have a more engaged fanbase.

      • Probably. And I think even their “EPs” were about 30 mins long… which might as well be an album as far as I’m concerned! And they were priced quite cheap. I think they were quite clever about it.

      • 30 minutes is longer than many of the albums on the 1001 list!
        I like that idea of more frequent, if shorter albums.
        Gasoline alley was 9 tracks and didn’t feel too short, but I’ve had a few 15-track albums recently that felt too long. But if they’d done 2 8-track albums instead, maybe I’d have approved!

      • Philip usually is!

      • I think the credit probably should go to their manager: none other than Dave “the Snake” Sabo! And he did a similar thing with Skid Row too now, come to think of it!

      • Hey HMO, I’m having fun with this! Here’s the info for the bands you mentioned:

        Black Sabbath 1970-02-13 to 1972-09-25

        That’s 955 days, 2 years 7 months 12 days. And they gave us:

        Black Sabbath
        Paranoid
        Master Of Reality
        Vol. 4

        Saxon: No exact dates given on Wiki, just years, but 1979-1981 they gave us:

        Saxon
        Wheels Of Steel
        Strong Arm Of The Law
        Denim And Leather

        KISS 1974-02-18 to 1976-11–11

        That’s 997 days, 2 years 8 months 24 days. And they gave us:

        Kiss
        Hotter Than Hell
        Dressed To Kill
        Destroyer
        Rock And Roll Over

        This is fun!

      • Love it!
        Those are some nice windows of productivity, lots of quantity without the dip in quality!

      • Great reply Aaron!

  4. A trifecta of “I wish I was born 20 years earlier” kinds of awesomeness. Bob Dylan, Elton John and Rod Stewart. I think sometimes an artist finds that there is just a whole lot to say/express during a short period of time. Maybe considering the age of the person…the current social/political environment…some times and places and parts of life lend a lot more inspiration. I’m glad they pounded it out in fast succession rather than releasing it after the momentum is gone.

    Great post!

    • Thanks sourgirl!
      Nice point about there being so many factors involved – I too am glad they didn’t try to pace themselves, if you’re on a roll, keep rollin’!

  5. For your consideration: I used Wiki, their UK release dates, and an web site that calculates time days between two dates.

    Now consider the Rolling Stones, 1964-04-16 to 1966-04-15. That is 729 days. Put another way, that’s 1 year, 1 month and 30 days (excluding the end date).

    So basically that’s exactly two years. And you get:

    England’s Newest Hitmakers!
    12×5
    The Rolling Stones, Now!
    Out Of Our Heads
    December’s Children (And Everybody’s)
    Aftermath

    6 albums. All (in my opinion) quite excellent! 🙂

  6. The natural response to the Stones thing would be, well, what about the Beatles? Their discography is a bit more convoluted, in those early years, with albums released in different countries under different names and containing different track listings.

    So I just used (again) albums released in the UK, from 1963-03-22 to 1965-08-06. That’s 868 days. Or if you prefer, it’s 2 years, 4 months, 15 days (excluding the ending date).

    That’s 2 1/3 years, and you get:

    Please please Me
    With The beatles
    A Hard Day’s Night
    Beatles For Sale
    Help!

    I suppose that could count as a pretty damn good 2-year run, too!

  7. As for Rod Stewart, I love this period of his stuff. I have a whole stack of early vinyls in my collection. I plan on getting to them eventually! 🙂 With him, I find the earlier the better, usually. I still have a soft spot for Vagabond Heart, but usually I’d gravitate to the earlier stuff. I know I have this LP in the pile, but can’t promise that I’ve played it. Your post reminds me that I should!

    Well done, sir!

    PS: Gasoline Alley between Barrie and Orillia… I wondered if the famous Weber burger joint is a part of that. It’s been years since I went up the way and my memory of the area is a bit foggy…

    So a quick Google of it shows highway 11 going north from Barrie to Orillia, then shows Weber’s north of Orillia on the way to Washago (then on to Gravenhurst). Definitely not a part of the Gasoline Alley, then, unless that Alley goes for a long, long way!

    • I was thinking of webers when I heard gasoline alley too! You’re right, it seems to be further down the road, but always a fun stop if you’re heading north.

  8. Rod is a classic example of an artist where more popular = less interesting. So thanks for the reminder of how good early Rod was.

  9. Great post, Geoff. I’m a big fan of Rod’s early records. So many great songs and, back then anyway, he was a great interpreter of song. Especially Dylan’s. This is a steal at $2.

    • I was delighted to see it for what Canadians call a toonie ($2 coin)!

      • Can’t go wrong with that. Even if you only liked a couple of tunes that’s still a win!

  10. I’m going to have to listen to this one!

  11. Great post and comments……love how HMO high jacked the thread with Manowar! HAHAHHA….whadda a guy!

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