Every Picture Tells a Story: Rolling Stone's #177 of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time

Every Picture Tells a Story
Studio album: Rod Stewart
Released: May 28, 1971
Genre: Roots rock
Producer: Rod Stewart

Every Picture Tells a Story, Rod Stewart's third studio album, went to number one on both the UK and US charts.  It ranked third place in the Jazz & Pop critics' poll for best album of 1971. Rolling Stone's magazine lists it number 177 of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The LP spawned three singles in the US: the double A-sided "Reason to Believe"/"Maggie May" and "I Know I'm Losing You."

The great triumph of Every Picture Tells a Story lies in its content. 
Every song on the album, whether it's a cover or original, is a gem.
Allmusic review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine  

(I Know) I'm Losing You

The Temptations originally recorded "(I Know) I'm Losing You" in 1966 for the Motown label. It became a number 1 hit on the Billboard R&B singles chart and reached number 8 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart. The song reached number 19 in the UK. 

In 1970 the Motown rock band Rare Earth covered it for their Ecology album. The 10-minute recording was edited for a single release and peaked at number 7 on the U.S. pop charts. Rod Stewart's version on Every Picture Tells a Story reached number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100, credited as Rod Stewart with Faces.

Reason to Believe

"Reason to Believe" was written by folk singer Tim Hardin. He recorded it in 1965 and performed it at Woodstock in 1969. Hardin also wrote "If I Were a Carpenter." His severe drug problems led to an early death in December 1980 at age 39, shortly after John Lennon's murder.

Tim Hardin
Tim Hardin

The Carpenters covered "Reason to Believe" for their second album, Close to You. Rod Stewart's version was released as the A-side of the first single from Every Picture Tells a Story, with "Maggie May" as the B-side. 

"Reason to Believe" reached number 62 on the Hot 100 before the more popular B-side overtook it on its way to number 1 on the chart. "Maggie May" topped the Hot 100 during all five chart weeks of October 1971. It held The Carpenters' "Superstar" at number 2 during the third and fourth of those weeks.

Maggie May 

I didn't think much of "Maggie May."
I guess because the record company didn't. 
I didn't have much confidence then.
Rod Stewart, 2015

The song "Maggie May," about a boy involved in a relationship with an older woman, drew its inspiration from Stewart's own experience. In his memoir Rod: The Autobiography, Stewart provided details of the experience that led to this song. 

"At 16, I went to the Beaulieu Jazz Festival in the New Forest. I'd snuck in with some mates via an overflow sewage pipe. And there on a secluded patch of grass, I lost my not-remotely-prized virginity with an older (and larger) woman who'd come on to me very strongly in the beer tent."

Beaulieu Jazz Festival
Beaulieu Jazz Festival 

Originally the B-side of the single "Reason to Believe," it was considered an oddity with no hit potential and nearly left off the album.  Some stations played "Reason to Believe;" it peaked at #62 in August 1971.  But others flipped the single and played "Maggie May," forcing Mercury to put it out as a single in October.

The song went to number one on the UK Singles Chart and simultaneously topped the chart in the United States. It was the number 2 record for 1971 on both the US Billboard Hot 100 and UK singles charts. When this became a hit, Stewart's popularity surpassed that of his group. Faces shows started billing themselves "The Faces with Rod Stewart."

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