Rod Stewart brings a splash of color to the staid surroundings of the Beverly Hills Hotel. He's wearing a blue striped shirt, a white business suit jacket with thick red trim and blue Converse slip-ons -- a look that combines nautical and vaudeville, which seems perfectly fitting for Stewart, the perpetual showman.
After completing a 20-city North American tour earlier this year, Stewart returned to recording and made the album he says he's been waiting his entire life to create. Soulbook, a collection of classic soul songs from the '60s and '70s, will come out October 27 on J Records.
It's a natural next step after recording standards for his four-album Great American Songbook series. Those four albums have sold nearly 9 million copies combined, according to Nielsen SoundScan, since the first was released in 2002, and the 2006 Still the Same ... Great Rock Classics Of Our Time sold 724,000. A Songbook boxed set has sold 89,000 copies.
Soulbook features duets with Mary J. Blige (on "You Make Me Feel Brand New") and Jennifer Hudson ("Let It Be Me") as well as two tracks featuring the original performers: "Tracks of My Tears" with Smokey Robinson and "My Cherie Amour" with Stevie Wonder. Al Schmitt, Sam Cooke's original producer and engineer, engineered the album.
"I couldn't keep putting it off," Stewart says. "I was very frightened of doing it, because as I say in the liner notes, these are the guys I looked up to and admired all my life. It was a big step."