"Yeah, while I was making it and it was coming together and I was listening back to it, I thought this was going to please the long-standing Rod fans because this is what I do best," he acknowledges. "It's got the use of violin and mandolin and acoustic (guitar) and some good ol' rock 'n' roll stuff. This is what I do, and although I don't think it's any huge step forward, it's what I've done best -- and what I do best. I was actually thinking of all the fans who would actually love it, and they did. I know because I read my fan mail."
"Time," which debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 in May, also gave Stewart the distinction of the longest gap between No. 1 albums in the U.K. (37 years) -- albeit briefly.
"It was great until Ozzy's band (Black Sabbath) came along and they beat me by a year a few weeks later," Stewart says with a laugh. "But I'm pleased to say ('Time') stayed in the Top 5 for two and a half months. It really was nice to get a home run on your home pitch."
Stewart is indeed focusing on live work at the moment. After renewing his residency contract with the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas extended for another two years (he returns there in November), Stewart is headed overseas for shows in Germany, Poland and the U.K. that begin Sept. 12 (Click here for dates). A North American run with Steve Winwood opening starts on Oct. 17, and Stewart is hoping for some collaborations along the lines of what he did during 2012 with Stevie Nicks.
"The last time I was on the stage with Steve was, I think, 1965 or 66, something like that," Stewart says. "I was with Long John Baldry's band and we did a festival together with (the Spencer Davis Group). Eric Burdon came up and we jammed on a song by Muddy Waters. So it would be nice if we did something together. If nothing else, like with Stevie Nicks I'll introduce him -- 'My good friend Steve Winwood.' That's always a gentlemanly thing to do."
And speaking of old friends, Stewart is conscious that this year marks the 45th anniversary of the first Jeff Beck Group album, "Truth." He has "a brainwave" of a joint reunion tour featuring that band and his subsequent group, the Faces, who have done shows with Mick Hucknall standing in for Stewart.
"Two of us (Stewart and Ronnie Wood) are in both bands, so we could do half the show with the Faces, half with Jeff Beck." But, he says, don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.
"Whether Jeff would want to do it, there's two chances -- slim and none. When Jeff's angry at you, he stays angry for a long time. We were going to do a blues album (before 'Time') a modern sort of 'Beck-Ola,' maybe, but we couldn't agree on a great many things. I sent him a Christmas card, or e-mailed him a Christmas card, the year before last and never heard anything back. I think there's more a chance of the Faces doing something, but that has to wait 'til we know the Stones are finished."