Rod Stewart – Blonde Jokes (no label)

Blonde Jokes (no label)

Bellevue, Manchester, England – December 6th, 1978

Disc 1 (58:08):  Introduction, Hot Legs, Born Loose, Tonight’s The Night (Gonna Be Alright), The Wild Side Of Life, Get Back, You’re In My Heart, I Don’t Want To Talk About It Now, Blondes (Have More Fun), Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?, If Lovin’ You Is Wrong

Disc 2 (54:09):  The Killing Of Georgie (Part 1 & 2), Maggie Mae, (I Know) I’m Losing You, Bass & Drum Solo ~ (I Know) I’m Losing You (Reprise), Sweet Little Rock And Roller, Sailing, Twistin’ The Night Away, You Wear It Well

Rod Stewart’s ninth album Blonds Have More Fun was released on November 24th, 1978 right when he was beginning his longest world tour to date with seven dates in France and Scandinavia.  The first shows in England were four dates at the Bellevue in Manchester on December 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th.  The final two were recorded and radio multitracks have recently been released on Wolfgang’s Vault.   

More Fun With British Blond (Trial-351) has the December 5th show on CDR and Blonde Jokes on the no label label has the complete show from the final night in Manchester.  The tape on Blonde Jokes is similar to other tapes from DIR with the treble frequencies having precedence over the lower end and sounds very sharp with the audience reactions tastefully mixed into the overall balance of the sound resulting in an excellent recording of a fun show.

Stewart was backed by his best ever backing band with Carmine Appice on drums, Phil Chen on bass, Jim Cregan and Gary Grainger on guitars, Paulino Da Cost on percussion, Mike Finnegan on organ, Max Gronenthal on keyboards, Duane Hitchings on synthesizer, Phil Kenzie and Steve Madaio on trumpet and horns, Michael Manoogian on saxophone, and Linda Lewis on backing vocals. 

It is astonishing how successful Stewart was between the mid seventies running into the nineties with almost all of his albums seeing life on the charts and selling gold and platinum.  The setlist on this tour is a great summary of all of his hits in the seventies up to that point.

The show begins with David Rose’s 1962 instrumental “The Stripper” playing over the PA getting the audience into the appropriate mood before the band start with “Hot Legs.”  The band’s playing is appropriately sleazy in keeping with the loose, good times feel Stewart liked to bring to his shows.  But unlike The Faces, there is a strong sense of professionalism and calculation with this band.  After “Tonight’s The Night” Stewart announces, “We are attempting to do a broadcast for Scottish television.  We have a number of boys who came down to see us.  This is the last night and it will be magic.  And if i get a football result for Manchester I’ll tell ya, okay?”

In “Get Back” they play around with different tempi and after “You’re In My Heart” Stewart jokes, “I have been known to like football, women and drink.  Not necessarily in that order.”  They deliver a slow, passionate and strangely effective cover of Danny Whitten’s “I Don’t Want To Talk About It” in a version which Crazy Horse probably wouldn’t have been able to do. 

“Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” was the biggest hit from his latest album and a song that, instead of him being a sellout to disco, is tongue and cheek parody of the style.  It seems the humor was lost on many who criticized Stewart at the time, but in the end it is an effective dance track.  They play a nine minute version with long dance interludes lead by Chen’s funky bass-lines and Manoogian’s cabaret style saxophone in the middle.

After “If Loving You Is Wrong” Stewart becomes philosophical, saying, “If loving you is wrong I don’t want to be the one that’s right.  Very true song you know if you think about it.  It’s alright for all the married people in the audience.”  “The Killing Of George Parts 1 & 2” is the first real serious moment in the show as he narrates the ballad of the slaying of his gay friend.  “Maggie Mae” is Stewart’s biggest hit and the stretch the song out to almost ten minutes with a reggae instrumental interlude and a reference to the soul/ funk hit “I’ll Take You There” by The Staple Sisters. 

The audience also get a chance to sing along as Rod gives them the entire second verse.  This is followed by a long, sixteen minute version of “I’m Losing You” with a Chen bass solo and Appice delivering a brilliant drum solo in the middle.  A loose “Sweet Little Rock And Roller” closes the show and there are three encores.  The great “Sailing” is the first followed by the party track “Twisting The Night Away.”  “Let’s give them one more for luck around the pub” Stewart says before “You Wear It Well” which serves as an excellent final encore.   

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