The test of a real great singer is versatility. Rod Stewart has it! He's not only a legendary rock star but has become a great balladeer with the birth of "It Had To Be You...The Great American Songbook." He could also sing these time-tested standards from the Great American Songbook, interpret them with feelings and do justice to the songs as well.
I must admit that I only became a fan of Rod the Fab (a title I coined - Rod as the Fabulous interpreter of the Great American Songbook) when he recorded the standards from the GAS, although there were occasional hits he sung that really appeal to me like "Reason To Believe," "I Don't Want To Talk About It" and "You're In My Heart." And now I'm a forty-something fan!
He does it again this time with "As Time Goes By... The Great American Songbook: Volume II." As I mentioned in my review on Volume I, I grew up listening to these songs. Thanks to my late father who greatly influenced my taste in music and at an early age, I learned to appreciate good music and developed an ear for classy music. I took piano lessons in my formative years, thus enhancing my true appreciation not only for classical music, but also jazz standards as well. It was great growing up listening to the music of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Percy Faith, George Gershwin, Henry Mancini, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Kate Smith, Sarah Vaughan, Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Jo Stafford, Doris Day, Patti Page, not to mention Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, Bach, Schubert, among many others.
This CD has flair, distinction and a great sense of style. Congratulations to the men behind this great production: Clive Davis, Richard Perry & Phil Ramone, and to all the musicians involved and of course, the star himself, Mr. Rod Stewart.
It's so nice to listen to these standards with new twists and flavors. The repertoire is tastefully chosen and interpreted in such superb and fabulous fashion with outstanding arrangements. It's hard to single out a favorite track for they are all winners. George & Ira Gershwin's "Our Love Is Here To Stay" and "Someone To Watch Over Me" are my top favorites. His renditions of "Where Or When," "I Only Have Eyes For You," "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and "Until The Real Thing Comes Along" are simply superb and oozing with charms. Other highlights are his engaging duets with Cher and Queen Latifah, "Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered" and "As Time Goes By," respectively. "I'm In The Mood For Love," "Smile" and "Time After Time" are all done in soothing and relaxing manner. My special mention goes to my favorite from the Broadway show, "The Music Man." Mr. Stewart brings new life and fresh style to this beautiful song composed by Meredith Wilson and popularized by the famous Beatles, "Till There Was You."
"Then there was music
And there were wonderful roses
They tell me in sweet fragrant
Meadows of dawn and dew
There was love all around
But I never heard it singing
No I never heard it at all
Till there was you"
I could listen to this CD over and over again without getting tired of it, just like I did with Volume I!
This is "A MUST-HAVE" for young and old alike. Wholeheartedly recommended for your listening pleasure now and forever.