When I took this CD off the shelf late last night to give it a play, there were only a couple of songs with which I was familiar. I can almost sing along to many of the tracks from Stranger In Town or Against The Wind, but here we have one of the more unfamiliar albums in the Bob Seger catalog.
The Fire Inside, released five years after Like A Rock, found Bob Seger in his mid-forties, his place in American rock history having already been secured. His new music was refined and perhaps a little too familiar. I have always thought that maybe he should have played a few more bars rather than just the 15,000-seat areas. All in all, I guess his music had become a little too predictable.
This album would begin on an upbeat note. “Take A Chance” may not have been the best rocker that he produced in his career but it is very good. It’s instantly recognizable and finds Seger in his comfort zone. “The Real Love” is a beautiful and poetic ballad with his voice intermixed with some layered guitars and backing vocals.
They may not be the best songs on the album but the most interesting are the two Tom Waits covers. He gives a nice, bluesy vocal on “New Coat Of Paint” and he takes “Blind Love” in a country direction. He would flirt with country music a number of times on his latter-day albums and I can’t help but wish that he might have gotten a little more serious about this musical direction.
The title track would be the album’s only real memorable song as it would receive considerable airplay. Now only was it graced by some classic piano work by Roy Bittan of The E Street Band, but it also had a catchy melody.
The remaining seven tracks all struggle just to be average. “The Mountain” has some nice lead guitar lines by Joe Walsh but not much else. “Always In My Heart” is a rare failed ballad. The album closer, “She Can’t Do Anything Wrong,” is a rocker where he unfortunately shows his age.
Bob Seger was still a formidable presence in concert but this release was not indicative of that fact. The Fire Inside is forgettable and bland — especially when you compare it to Live Bullet or Nine Tonight — making it an album for hardcore Seger fans only.