Rod Stewart is hoping his upcoming “Soulbook” album may launch a series similar to his multi-platinum “The Great American Songbook” series earlier this decade.
“Oh, I’d love it to. That would be just amazing, but I’m not going to count my chickens before they hatch, as they say,” Stewart tells Billboard.com. “There’s a hell of a lot of material left over, so if (‘Soulbook’) is a success, I will definitely do a follow-up. It’s getting some very nice things coming out about it but, once again, I don’t want to push it or jinx it.”
Stewart recorded four “…Songbook” albums, all of which sold platinum or better and one of which, “Stardust: The Great American Songbook Volume III,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album in 2005. “Soulbook,” meanwhile, finds Stewart covering 13 R&B favorites and collaborating with Stevie Wonder (“My Cherie Amour”), Smokey Robinson (“Tracks of My Tears”), Mary J. Blige (the Stylistics’ “You Make Me Feel Brand New”) and Jennifer Hudson (Jerry Butler and Betty Everett’s “Let It Be Me”).
“This is the music I sort of based myself on,” Stewart explains. “I tried to sound like Sam Cooke and Otis (Redding) when I was in my early teens, struggling. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make singing my career or what I was going to do, and they just had an immediate, profound impact on my life. They helped me turn a corner, as it were.”
“Soulbook” was produced by “…Songbook” collaborator Steve Tyrell and Steve Jordan (John Mayer, Keith Richards), who recruited an all-star cast of musicians for the tracks such as Motown veterans Bob Babbitt, George Bohannen and Ray Parker, Jr., Memphis heavyweights Willy Mitchell and Wayne Jackson, Rolling Stones bassist Darryl Jones, Toto‘s David Paich and session aces Waddy Wachtel, Leland Sklar, Greg Phillinganes, Tom Scott, Ricky Lawson and others. Stewart estimates that he recorded 29 tracks, and some of the “leftovers” that could land on a second volume include Ben E. King‘s “Spanish Harlem,” the Drifters‘ “Up On the Roof,” “Sunny” and Don Covay‘s “See Saw” and “Mercy Mercy.”
Stewart is “just in the middle of planning touring” in support of “Soulbook,” with dates expected for 2010.
Meanwhile, Stewart says that commitments to promote “Soulbook” are also keeping him from rejoining the Faces for an Oct. 25 fundraiser for the Performing Rights Society’s Music Members’ Benevolent Fund at London’s Royal Albert Hall, though he applauded the choice of Paul Rodgers to sing in his stead. As for any other Faces reunions, Stewart says there’s “nothing concrete yet” and anything will be dependent on his schedule as well as the Rolling Stones’ plans for guitarist Ron Wood.