In recent years, Stewart has concentrated on singing 1930s and 1940s pop standards from the "Great American Songbook", written by songwriters such as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, with great popular success but middling critical success. These albums have been released on Clive Davis's J Records label and have seen Stewart enjoy album sales equal to the 1970s.
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The first album from the songbook series, It Had to Be You ... The Great American Songbook, reached #4 on the US album chart, #8 in the UK and #10 in Canada when released in late 2002. The track "These Foolish Things" reached #13 on the Billboard adult contemporary charts and #2 in Taiwan. "They Can't Take That Away From Me" went Top 20 on the world internet charts and Top 30 on the adult contemporary charts.
Rod Stewart Live - Video
The second series album, As Time Goes By: the Great American Songbook 2, reached #2 in the US, #4 in the UK and #1 in Canada. "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered", a duet with Cher went Top 20 on the US adult contemporary charts and Top 5 in Taiwan. "Time After Time" was another Top 30 track on the US adult contemporary charts.
A musical featuring many of Stewart's songs opened November 7, 2003 at London's Victoria Palace theatre. It is written and directed by Ben Elton, who previously created a similar production, We Will Rock You, with music by Queen.
In 2004, Stewart reunited with Ron Wood for concerts of The Faces material. A Rod Stewart and the Faces best of Changing Faces reached the Top 20 of the UK album charts. Five Guys Walk Into A Bar, a Faces box set compilation, went in to the shops, and it is widely regarded as a "must have" in Rock & Roll history. Together with Wood, he is still working on the album You Sing I'll Strut.
In October 2004 Young Turks appeared on the popular videogame Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, playing on fictional classic rock station K-DST.
In late 2004, Stardust ... The Great American Songbook 3, the third album in the series, was released. It was his first US #1 album in 25 years, selling over 200,000 albums in its first week. It also debuted at #1 in Canada, #3 in the UK and Top ten in Australia. His version of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World", featuring Stevie Wonder has made the Top 20 of the world adult charts. He also recorded a duet with Dolly Parton for the album - "Baby, It's Cold Outside". Stewart won his first ever Grammy Award for this album.
October 18, 2005 saw the release of the fourth and final songbook album. Thanks for the Memory: The Great American Songbook 4 it included duets with Diana Ross and Elton John. Within weeks of its release, the CD made it to #2 on the Top 200 list.
In late 2006, Rod Stewart made his return to the rock'n'roll, with the release of Still the Same... Great Rock Classics of Our Time, a new album featuring rock milestones from the last four decades, including a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" which was released as the first single. The album was released on October 10. The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts with 184,000 copies in its first week. The number 1 debut was helped by a concert in NYC that was on MSN music and an appearance on Dancing With The Stars. He performed tracks from his new album Live from the Nokia Theater on October 9th. Control Room broadcast the event Live on MSN and in 117 movie theaters across the country via National CineMedia.Check out the concert on MSN Music. The BBC quoted in their Breakfast Show on 1st November 2006 that Rod Stewart is one of the top ten biggest-selling artists in recording history, with well over 250,000,000 records sold.
On 12th December he performed for the first time at The Royal Variety Performance at The London Coliseum in front of HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, singing another Cat Stevens number, "Father and Son", and the Bonnie Tyler song, "It's A Heartache".