If you were around in the 70's you could not of escaped Rod Stewart, the UK singer-songwriter responsible for many of decades top selling records but where do you start if you're not a rabid fan of his given many compilations have been issued in the passing decades most of which had cd re-issues?
I did have the 2004 Changing Faces set but it was mastered rather loud and my copy wasn't playing to well for some reason so a while back I did some investigations on what to replace it with.
At the risk of sounding like a boring old fart, I feel his best solo material was recorded for Mercury between 1969 and 1974 taking in such gems as You Wear it Well, Gasoline Alley, Reason To Believe and unforgettably, Maggie Mae.
While some of these albums have been re-issued by specialty labels such as Audio Fidelity and Mobile Fidelity, these discs will be dear to track down regardless of sonic merit so I'd suggest most would be better of getting new a 3 cd set called "Reason To Believe -The complete Mercury studio recordings " having all the albums and some bonus tracks in a single inexpensive set.
For an overview of his career from the mid 60's to 1990 I feel there's one which is a complete no-brainer and that's "Storyteller" as it does just that telling the story of Rod's music career over 4 cds that originally came out in 1990 costing a small fortune.
It was recently repackaged but keeping the notes and can be got from Amazon UK for £7.99 shipped. Although a few tracks from the mid 60's were sourced from records, most of this set sounds really good.
I would put this now above "The Story So Far - the best of" a 2 cd set issued by Warners in the UK in 2003 as Storyteller has more 'classic' Rod while all The Story So Far adds is some remakes and less essential tracks he did with Helicopter Girl even though I bought "Story So Far" on release.
Finally, Rod was an essential part of the Faces who emerged from the Small Faces and you simply have to have a selection of their rootsy bar music that included tracks like Stay With Me and Cindy Incidentally. Although there's a new double cd set due out in October which I hope to get, One that can be got cheaply and is very good is The Best of the Faces (Good boys ...while they're asleep).
Currently available on Rhino and priced at £2.99 on Amazon UK you really cannot go wrong with this single cd retrospective..