Musician (9/95, p.93) - "...his singing seems surer than ever, and that's what makes this his best album since EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY....this SPANNER definitely works."
Mojo (Publisher) (7/95, p.112) - "...Chris Rea's song 'Windy Town' [is] a piece of creamy gravelled Rodnocity that ranks with anything he's performed for, ooh, 20 years....the customary good taste prevails, most notably on 'Downtown Lights'...never a dull moment."
Personnel includes: Rod Stewart, Aleisha Irving (vocals); Guy Pratt (acoustic guitar, bass); Davey Johnstone (guitar, mandolin); Steve Lipson (guitar, bass); Robin LeMesurier, Michael Landau (guitar); Donal Lunny (bouzouki); Don Teschner (fiddle, mandolin); Ni Chathasaigh (Irish fiddle); John McSherry (bagpipes); Leslie Butler (harmonica); Kevin Savigar (accordion, keyboards, bass); Martin O'Conner (accordion); The Kick Horns (horns); Jamie Muhoberac (piano, keyboards, percussion); Anne Dudley (piano); Mike Higham (keyboards, bass, programming); James Newton-Howard (keyboards); Leland Sklar, Carmine Rojas (bass); Paul Robinson, Kenny Aronoff, David Palmer (drums); Paulinho Da Costa (percussion); Eric Caudieux (programming); Joe Turano, Joey Diggs (background vocals); Lol Creme, Andy Taylor, David Lindley Billy Preston, Bernard Edwards, Trevor Horn, Jeff Golub, Tim Pierce.
Producers include: Trevor Horn, James Newton-Howard, Michael Ostin, Lenny Waronker, Rod Stewart.
Engineers: Tim Weidner, Steve MacMillan, Charlie Bouis.
Recorded at Woodstock House, Co. Wicklow, Ireland; Herschel House, Hollywood, California; A&M Studios and Ocean Way Studios, Los Angeles, California.
Rod Stewart is one of the great singers of the rock era. His interpretive acuity, sweet rasp, blues influences and sharp phrasing have afforded him the ability to make a few lapses in song selection--which is to say that in his ragged engagingly individual way, even a lesser song like "Muddy, Sam And Otis" works.
Give him a great song, though, and Stewart shines as brightly as any vocalist in the rock firmament. Here he takes on Tom Waits' insolent "Hang On St. Christopher"; the liltingly romantic "The Downtown Lights"; the traditional Celtic song "Purple Heather" (sorry, Rod, but the typo must have slipped by your eyes when you were credited with writing this song); and Sam Cooke's soul-dripping "Soothe Me." His version of Bob Dylan's early-'80s nugget "Sweetheart Like You" is breathtakingly original.
A patchwork of styles and temperments, A SPANNER IN THE WORKS is more sedate than Stewart's previous records. But at 50 years of age and with four years having passed since his last studio album, VAGABOND HEART, it's a good bet Stewart himself has lived these mood changes.
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