Rod Stewart's Top Five Albums

This short list is the cream of the crop from a long recording career

Quite a few classic rock bands broke up when one or more of their members got the urge to pursue solo careers. Rod Stewart's solo career began before his stint with Jeff Beck Group and continued during and after his six years with Faces.

With a recording career that began in 1964 Stewart has built a large discography. If you aren't a Stewart completist, picking favorites can be daunting. For the sake of simplicity, this list focuses on the top 5 studio albums from his quite successful solo career.

'Every Picture Tells a Story' - 1971

Rod Stewart - Every Picture Tells a Story
Polygram Records

The focus on Rod Stewart's solo career often begins after Faces broke up in 1975, but he actually had started that career before he joined Faces. In fact, his first solo album, "An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down" was released in November 1969, four months ahead of Faces' debut album.

"Every Picture Tells a Story", released in 1971, was Stewart's third solo studio album, and the first to reach #1. All of his Faces band mates backed him on this album.

Significant singles: "Maggie May", "Reason to Believe", "You Wear It Well"

'Atlantic Crossing' - 1975

Rod Stewart - Atlantic Crossing
Rhino Records

At the time Stewart's sixth solo album was released (in August 1975) his solo career was proceeding full speed and Faces guitarist Ronnie Wood had already been working with The Rolling Stones. After "Atlantic Crossing" quickly went to #1, Faces disbanded, leaving Stewart and Wood free to pursue their respective career paths.

Artistically and otherwise, this album marked a turning point for Stewart: a new label and a new home, as he traded Britain's 83% tax rate for U.S. citizenship and a residence in Los Angeles. None of the members of Faces worked on this album, but it did feature backup by most of the members of Booker T. and the MG's.

Significant singles: "Sailing", "The First Cut is the Deepest", "I Don't Want to Talk About It"

'A Night on the Town' - 1976

Rod Stewart - A Night on the Town
Rhino Records

A technique that seemed to work well on "Atlantic Crossing" has employed again on "A Night on the Town" with the harder rocking songs and slower, softer songs separated into distinct groupings. Among the best-known songs were a Cat Stevens cover ("The First Cut is the Deepest") and a song with a theme that was not common in the mainstream in the mid-70s, "The Killing of Georgie (Part I and II)" about the murder of a gay man.

Once again, a contingent from Booker T. and the MG's provided backup, along with (among others) Joe Walsh on guitar. This was Stewart's first platinum-selling (one million) album in the US.

Significant singles: "Tonight's The Night (Gonna Be Alright)", "The First Cut is the Deepest", "The Killing of Georgie (Part I and II)"

'Foot Loose & Fancy Free' - 1977

Rod Stewart - Foot Loose & Fancy Free
Warner Bros

Some will, no doubt, question the inclusion of "FL&FF" on this list. Many critics were not pleased.

Wrote Joe McEwen in the 12/15/77 edition of "Rolling Stone", "There are a lot of kids in England who don't care what kind of fashionably gauche trinkets decorate Rod Stewart's high-class, Hollywood home or what the exact terms (if any) of his separation from Britt Ekland will be. They do care that Stewart has lost touch with them, not only musically but culturally as well." Reviewer Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote an allmusic review in which he said the album, "was a limp effort from an increasingly complacent Rod Stewart. With the exception of the dumb, sleazy 'Hot Legs,' none of the rockers are discernible from each other, and this time he doesn't have a strong set of ballads to save him."

But say what they will, it isn't critics who buy albums. It's the fans who bought this one in huge numbers. It reached #2 on the Billboard LP Top 50, spun off three charting singles and sold more than three million.

Significant singles: "You're In My Heart (The Final Acclaim)", "Hot Legs", "I Was Only Joking"

'Blondes Have More Fun' - 1978

Rod Stewart - Blondes Have More Fun
Warner Bros

Disco had arrived, and while some artists stood fast with their established styles, Stewart opted to go with the flow. He was at the peak of his glam period, sporting lots of spandex and makeup. Not only did "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" hit #1 on the pop chart, it peaked at #5 on the Black singles chart, because of its disco success.

Once again, while critics whined, fans shucked out their dollars and made "Blondes Have More Fun" another #1 album for Stewart and a 4x Platinum (4 million) seller.

Significant singles: "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?", "Ain't Love a Bitch