Over Rod Stewart
Rod Stewart once sat at the right hand of nearly every critic, enjoying the fulsome praise due a rock 'n' roll wunderkind. Then came commercial success, and the critics dismissed their former fave as a trendy sellout. After an incredibly productive stint from 1960 to 1975, in which Stewart matched Faces releases with solo albums (with the Faces backing him), he left the band to explore new currents in the mainstream. From the slick soft rock of "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)" to the polyester pop of "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?," Stewart openly pandered to public tastes; but to goof on "Rod the Bod" without acknowledging his important early work with the Jeff Beck Group and Faces is unfair. Recent box-set anthologies sample moments from Stewart's lengthy career, bringing them together in a convincing argument for his election into rock's elite. They remind listeners that from the down-home Folk-Rock of "Handbags and Gladrags" to the Zeppelin-esque "(I Know) I'm Losing You" and wistful pop of "Downtown Train," there is little Stewart hasn't done and done well -- with or without critics' blessings. Then, in 2002, he changed course again and cut a standards collection that became one of the biggest sellers, prompting him to release a string of "American Songbook" collections.