Checking in from the courts of Wimbledon, our very own Self Made Man still can’t shake the rock and this week he focuses on a singer who polarises opinion.

So if you want to find out what our expert blogger thinks of Rod Stewart read on…it’s interesting stuff as usual! 

Rod Stewart – Rock God or Pop Star?

I ask because if there is one man who divides opinion amongs the rock fraternity, it is the 66-year-old, thrice-married father of eight.

Indeed, my fellow Celtic fan even has music fans questioning their own judgement.

A mate of mine is a case in point. Last weekend, was at the final night of the Hard Rock Calling festival in Hyde Park, primarily to see Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks.

Passing his verdict on the show the following day he waxed lyrical about Ms Nicks before uttering three words I never thought would come out of his mouth.

“Rod Stewart rocked,” he declared.

Now this is a man who, a few years earlier, told me that the aforementioned Rodney was, to quote him, “the man who betrayed rock”.

Betrayal is an emotive accusation but certainly RS’s career took quite a turn in the early-70s when he quit The Faces to pursue a solo career.

It was a bit like Pans People joining the Royal Ballet.

For you could argue  the rock god became a pop star as he focussed on the singles’ market and appearances on Top Of The Pops at the expense of being a frontman in a highly-respected band.

Nothing wrong in that you may say and let’s face it, his first big hit Maggie May is a song loved by music lovers right through the genres.

Even now in Stewart’s fifth decade as an entertainer, he quite obviously sees himself as a solo artist, rejecting the chance to link up again with big mates Ronnie Wood and Kenny Jones with the Faces though giving his blessing to Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall picking up the mic.

Stewart’s vocal excellence first came to prominence as the singer in Jeff Beck’s band. Anyone who has heard the album Truth, surely one of the most criminal neglected records ever released, will bear testimony to his and its quality.

The tones, though raucous and less honed than in subsequent years, is unmistakeably Stewart and the combination of Beck’s dexterity on guitar and the former’s vocal range makes for an album at least the equal of Led Zeppelin’s eponymous debut. The name-check is significant.

Both albums feature the same song You Shook Me and it’s said Beck, a good friend of Jimmy Page, was astounded, astonished and angry in equal measures when he heard it, because it was a carbon copy of the version he and Stewart had recorded a few months earlier.

There are similarities between Robert Plant and Stewart both in their personalities and their singing abilities. Indeed, had Page chosen Rod rather than Rob to front his band, it’s hardly a leap of faith to suggest Zeppelin would have been just as massive as they became.

But had Stewart stuck around with Beck, would they have broken through even if that first album flopped in start contrast to Zeppelin’s debut release?

And would Beck and Stewart today be talked about in the same reverential tones as a songwriting and performing team as Page and Plant? It’s an intriguing thought.

Instead, the man who belted out such classics as Stay With Me, Hot Legs, Sailing and of course Maggie May, went on to pose another question.

And no Rod, I don’t think you’re sexy!

Ian Murtagh