Today, it's hard to believe that Rod Stewart was once the epitome of rock-and-roll cool and street-level cred. But some 30 years ago, his first two solo albums as well as his discs with the Jeff Beck Group and the Faces showcased a rootsy soul rebel and swaggering rock rooster, whose gravelly pipes and devil-may-care attitude were that era's bomb.
But then, with each successive album -- and especially after leaving the Faces -- Rod the Mod started slipping away. Joe Hollywood emerged in his place, and now Stewart has cast himself as a romantic crooner of pop standards. It's such an abysmal mismatch of voice and material -- one of the worst in music history, in fact -- that it makes one long even for a seedy piece of tripe like "Hot Legs." So expect Rod the Strained Sophisticate, and pray that maybe, just maybe, a hint of the ol' chips-n-vinegar might pop up at least once in his set.