When Bob Seger is good he is very good and when Bob Seger is bad he is just average.
Like A Rock, issued in April of 1986, was his first studio album release since 1982’s The Distance. The ever increasing lag time between releases would not serve him well as the overall quality of the albums were not as high. While this latest release would contain several classic performances, there would also be a number of filler songs.
Bob Seger may have become a tad complacent or maybe just too secure. The music marked a slight turn from the blue collar rock upon which his reputation had been built. The increased keyboards and synthesizer sound on some of the tracks was his adjusting to the music of the eighties.
The first three tracks are excellent. “American Storm,” with its driving beat, is one of those rock anthems that he was so good at creating. At the time “Like A Rock” was equally strong. But listening to this track today I can’t help but think about that Chevrolet commercial, where a great song was used in a bad context. “Miami” was Seger turning in a soft rock direction that was becoming so popular at the time and would foreshadow his future releases.
The final track, “Fortunate Son,” was not present on the vinyl edition but was a bonus track on the CD. It also was the flip side of the single release of “American Storm.” It was taken from a live 1983 performances and just crackles with sound and energy. Very few artists have been able to cover Creedence Clearwater Revival well but this was just a great performance.
The rest of the album does not reach the heights of the four previously mentioned tracks. “The Ring” has excellent lyrics about marital problems that are lost in some average music. He tries on “Tightrope” and “The Aftermath” but they do not quite take off. While “Somewhere Tonight” is enjoyable, “Sometimes” and “It’s You” are unimaginative and just fill out the album.
There are a lot better albums in the Seger catalog. Like A Rock remains a hit or miss affair and is only memorable for about half the tracks.