‘Rarities’ Boasts Obscure Gems From Rod Stewart’s Prime

Rod Stewart tells a sweeping, genre-hopping story on a forthcoming collection of rare tracks from his Mercury years, the rich interval between 1969 and 1974 that saw the release of five landmark solo records.

The two-CD Rarities, thanks Sept. 3 on Mercury/Ume, holds 24 tracks recorded when the singer had been honing a soulful, rootsy sound on The Rod Stewart Album (1969), Gasoline Alley (1970), Every Picture Tells a Story (1971), Never a Dull Moment (1972) and also Smiler (1974).

The extensive set’s alternate variations, non-LP singles, b-sides, studio outtakes and BBC Radio One performances let a glimpse to Stewart’s historical artistic growth and eyesight.

He covers The Who’s Pinball Wizard, Bob Dylan’s Girl from the North Country, ” Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s Oh!

No Not My Baby, Jimi Hendrix’s Angel, Brewer & Shipley’s Seems Like a Long Time and Stealer’s Wheel’s You Put Something Better Inside of Me.

Foreshadowing his foray into standards, Stewart Functions up Cole Porter’s Every Time We Say Goodbye and Jerry Lee Lewis’ What Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made a Loser Out of Me), originally the non-LP b-side of One featuring Angel.

Rarities also provides a previously unreleased alternate take of this Elton John/Bernie Taupin classic, Country Comfort, recorded live for the BBC with The Faces’ guitarist Ron Wood, bassist Ronnie Lane, keyboardist Ian McLagan and drummer Kenney Jones.

Other highlights: an edited version of It’s All Over Now and a historical rendition of Maggie May with lyrics that are incomplete.

“For many serious lovers, Stewart’s Mercury years signify his creative peak, and the songs he made during this period retains a distinctive place in the hearts of his admirers,” Scott Schinder writes from the set’s liner notes.