October 28, 2002 12:00 PM

The Great American Songbook
Rod Stewart (J)

When Rod Stewart sings the ’30s chestnut “These Foolish Things,” he might as well be referring to this new album of standards. Stewart’s crooning of these much covered American classics is about as convincing as Tony Bennett would be belting “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” The British rocker offers nothing new on surprisingly dull renditions of beloved oldies such as “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” “The Way You Look Tonight” and “The Very Thought of You.” What’s more disturbing, though, is that the traditional arrangements (cue the strings) seem to have sucked all the soul out of Stewart’s raspy voice, reducing him to a Vegas lounge lizard. Guest appearances by saxmen Dave Koz and Michael Brecker only add to the Muzak mood. Given what he did with Curtis May field’s “People Get Ready” in 1985, Stewart would be much better off doing an album of classic R&B covers.

Bottom Line: Substandard

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