BOB SEGER & HARD DRIVIN’ DETROIT ROCK
By Alan L. Chrisman
Bob Seger has just released his first album, Ride Out, in 8 years and it’s already in the Top 10 of Billboard’s charts. I saw him recently perform on the Jimmy Kimmel TV show and he had the whole house rockin’! It was great to see whole new generations exposed to his “Old Time Rock ’n’ Roll”.
Seger comes from a long line of rockers from Detroit. Of course, Detroit is known musically for The Supremes and Motown, but it has equally created many great, especially hard rockers, from Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels in the 60’s (“Devil with A Blue Dress On”, “Jenny Take a Ride”), The political band MC5 to Grand Funk Railroad (“We’re An American Band”) to punk’s Iggy Pop in the 70’s & 80’Different cities seem to produce different sounds and Detroit’s and Seger’s music reflects that tough working-class sound. For years, Seger played in various bands and recorded for various small labels and became a local favorite. He even had an early song, “The Lonely One”, produced by Del Shannon in ’61. It wasn’t until he formed The Bob Seger System and signed with Capitol Records that he had his first big hit, “Ramblin’Gamblin’ Man”, in 1969, with Detroit friend and future Eagle, Glen Frey, singing back-up. Seger then played briefly for Teagarden & Van Winkle, who had a hit with, “God, Love & Rock’n’Roll” in ’71. He recorded the album, Back in ’72, with the famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, who would often play on his later albums, with the original version of his song,” Turn The Page”. Another recommended , but hard to find album from this period, is his third hard-rocking Bob Seger System LP in 1970, with the song, ”Lucifer”, which some critics say pre-dated Nirvana.
But it was when he formed the Silver Bullet Band and released the Live Bullet album, recorded at Detroit’s Cobo Arena in 1976, that he finally began to take off and began getting national attention. Some critics said it was one of the best live albums. Then he had a big hit with his Night Moves album and song too, the album also containing the smash, “Rock ’n’ Roll Never Forgets”. In ’78, he followed with the Stranger in Town album with hits: “Still the Same”, “Hollywood Nights” and ”We’ve Got Tonight”.
In 1980, Seger released his classic LP, Against The Wind, backed up with The Eagles’ Don Henley, Tim Schmit, and friend, Glen Frey( with whom he co-wrote the Eagles’ song, “Heartache Tonight”). This album had several hit singles, the title song, and “Fire Lake” and “You’ll Accompany Me”, etc. He released Live Tonight in ’81 and Like a Rock in ’86. His Greatest Hits has sold sold over 10 million copies.
He took a long break to raise his family, but recorded his most recent album, before this new one, 2006’s, Face the Promise, which sold well and showed he was still popular. Seger re-released some of the songs from his olderalbums , like Smokin’ O.P.’s from ’72 on his Early Seger, Vol.1 in 2009. He recorded a duet on John Fogerty’s song, “Who’ll Stop the Rain”, for Fogerty’s , Wrote a Song For Everyone in 2013.
But The Man is back with his new, Ride Out, album now and helping us remember that a great rocker and “Old Time Rock ’n’ Roll” is still timeless.
Bob Seger doing “ Old Time Rock ’n’ Roll, Live from Detroit’s Cobo Hall, 1983: