Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story [Mercury, 1971]
Because he's tawdry enough to revel in stellar pop-and-flash, Stewart can refine the rock sensibility without processing the life out of it. His gimmick is nuance. Rod the Wordslinger is a lot more literate than the typical English bloozeman, Rod the Singer can make words flesh, and though Rod the Bandleader's music is literally electric it's the mandolin and pedal steel that come through sharpest. A smash as huge as "Maggie May" must satisfy Rod the Mod the way a classic as undeniable as "Maggie May" does Rod the Artist. But it's "Mandolin Wind" leading into Motown leading into Tim Hardin that does justice to everything he is. A+