Rod Stewart has said he wanted to make an album like "It Had to Be You ... The Great American Songbook" for a long time, but he will not have to wait long to offer up its sequel. Thanks to the success

Rod Stewart has said he wanted to make an album like "It Had to Be You ... The Great American Songbook" for a long time, but he will not have to wait long to offer up its sequel. Thanks to the success of "Songbook," his collection of American pop standards and debut for J Records, Stewart has commenced work on its follow-up.

The artist will record "a whole fresh batch of songs" and will once again be working with the same production triumvirate of Phil Ramone, Richard Perry, and J Records chairman/CEO Clive Davis. Stewart told Billboard for its March 22 issue the participants will "try to recreate the mood" of the first set but with "faster and more uptempo tunes," he said, adding that 40 new songs are ready to be cut. The album is expected in October.

Davis said the album will include such songs as "Stardust" and "As Time Goes By" and will be produced "appropriately to the feel" of each selection, perhaps with guest vocalists. But the overall approach will follow the "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" rule, Davis says. "I thought 'It Had to Be You' was special, and a 'statement' similar to Carlos Santana's 'Supernatural,' where the songs could be inspirational to people."

Released in October 2002, "It Had To Be You ... The Great American Songbook" peaked at No. 4 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 1.3 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. A supporting DVD with the same title was released in February. The disc finds Stewart performing standards and several of his hits, and boasts interviews with the artist, Ramone, Perry, and Davis.

Stewart stressed that he's stopping with two volumes of standards. "Just two will be enough," he says. "Then I'm going to go write some songs. I've got to pay a lot of bills."