Graded on a Curve:
Rod Stewart,
Foot Loose & Fancy Free

I had the strangest dream the other night. I was cruising Broadway Avenue in Saskatoon (The Paris of the Prairie!) with a dead moose tied to the hood of my pickup truck. The dead moose was Rod Stewart. Pedestrians kept pointing and asking, “Is that dead moose Rod Stewart?”And I would answer, “Sure is. Went hooves up around the time he released Foot Loose & Fancy Free.

I know there’s a lot wrong with this scenario. For starters, Rod Stewart is not a moose. And he hails from England, not the wilds of Canada. Furthermore, he has a rooster comb haircut, while your average moose prefers antlers. And while moose are majestic creatures of good taste, most of them don’t listen to Rod Stewart. They would sooner graze and rut and clash antlers and do other fun moose stuff. And moose don’t go around asking other moose, “Do ya think I’m sexy?” Moose know they’re not sexy. Same deal with hot legs. The females of the moose species do not have hot legs. Nor do they wear jet black suspender belts.

But here’s the rub–something went terribly awry between 1971, when Stewart released the classic Every Picture Tells a Story, and 1977, when Foot Loose & Fancy Free hit the record shelves. What had become of the Rod Stewart who’d roamed the white birch forests of Saskatchewan Province, singing his mighty moose heart out? He’d become a hack. Sold his antlers for filthy lucre. It was a snorting shame.

1977’s Foot Loose (or should that be Hoof Loose?) and Fancy Free, a collection of insipid ballads and hand-me-down remakes with only two rock tracks to cut the treacle, squandered the good will of all but those moose who’d embraced punk, outraging their elders with their Mohawks, safety pins, and nasty habit of pissing anarchy symbols on every second tree in the boreal forest.

Foot Loose & Fancy Free was widely panned by, amongst others, Alice Alces of the Free Moose Press, who wrote, “What to make of this boar fart of an album? “Hot Legs” is a cringing embarrassment, the work of a misogynistic roué and Viagra addict chasing tail–his own. And does the Great White North really need another cover–and an overly produced one at that–of “You Keep Me Hangin On”? Or a cocktail lounge version of “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right”?

Andy Andersoni of the Saskatoon Antler was only slightly kinder. He called the album a “massive disappointment,” but had good things to say about rocker “Born Loose,” writing it “evokes fond memories of the Faces at their raucous peak.” He also had positive things to say about ballad “I Was Only Joking,” calling it “the return of the wistful Stewart, who wasn’t afraid to play the loser.” But he panned the LP’s only other rocker “You’re Insane,” describing is as “a lame Stones’ leaving with a half-hearted disco beat.” Nor was he any kinder to “You’re in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)” writing “Final acclaim? Make that last gasp.”

Rod the Moose has released many very good songs over the subsequent years, but they’ve been few and far between, which is probably why he’s stopped trying and retreated to the American Songbook. I will always love Rod despite the likes of Foot Loose & Fancy Free. And I wish him the very best as he sings amongst the Okanese poplars of the Land of the Living Skys, hopefully well out of earshot.

GRADED ON A CURVE:
D+

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