June 13, 2009
Bob Seger would release Against The Wind in February of 1980. Following on the heels of Night Moves and Stranger In Town, it would complete the trilogy of his most famous and commercially successful albums. It would also be his only album to top the American charts, spending six weeks at Number One.
Bob Seger was now far removed from the raw and energetic journeyman rock & roller of just five year previous. His sound now had a slickness that had not been present on his earlier albums. He had developed a groove that would serve him well for the rest of his career and, while he may not have advanced creatively, the album was well crafted, melodically and lyrically strong, and ultimately a brilliant slice of seventies rock.
While most people remember the album for its ballads, two of the rock numbers would make my top five list of his songs. “Betty Lou’s Gettin’ Out Tonight” and “Horizontal Bop” both deal with sex and Seger’s vocal and amusing lyrics are just a joy. “Betty Lou” is both frenetic and melodic at the same time and Seger is at his rocking best.
The album produced three mid-tempo ballads that became Top Twenty hits and solidified him as one of the most popular artists of the era. “You’ll Accomp’ny Me” is a beautiful love song with an emotional vocal. “Against The Wind” is timeless and sets a tone of longing and looking back much like “Night Moves” did prior. “Fire Lake” is smoother than the other two and flows easily along.
Even some of the lesser-known material stands out. “Her Strut” should be called Seger’s Strut. “Long Twin Silver Line” is an excellent example of smooth, late seventies/early eighties rock ‘n’ roll that was in vogue at the time.
Against The Wind is Bob Seger at the height of his popularity. It is also a signature album from the era and many of the songs still receive airplay today. It remains a wonderful example of straightforward, blue-collar rock ‘n’ roll.
It’s late and I’m a grandfather but somewhere Betty Lou’s on the prowl and I can still smile at the thought.
June 12, 2009
I have stopped at a lot of garage sales and flea markets in my lifetime and one of the albums I constantly see for sale is Stranger In Town by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band. This is one of those classic albums that sold millions and millions of records upon its release and continues to sell in CD form as people have replaced their worn out or missing vinyl LP’s or are discovering Bob Seger for the first time.
Stranger In Town was the follow up to his national break out album Night Moves and it not only solidified his success but increased it. It can be argued which album is the best. I find Stranger In Town to be a little more polished and consistent but feel that Night Moves was more powerful.
This album would be representative of his future releases as it would contain a mixture of ringing rock anthems and poignant ballads. He was now writing most of his material and his topics of escape, loss, restlessness, and longing would resonate with several generations of fans and become known for its blue collar rock ethic.
The album roars out of the gate. “Hollywood Nights” is just pure American rock ‘n’ roll at its best. “Still The Same” follows in the same vein but “Old Time Rock and Roll” would become not only one of his signature songs but one of the ultimate party songs for decades. It was added to the film Risky Business and is associated with the memory of Tom Cruise dancing in his underwear. If you have a pulse it’s one of those songs that makes you want to get up and dance.
“We’ve Got Tonight” is a beautiful love ballad. Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton would have a huge hit with the song but their version pales next to Seger’s emotional delivery. “The Famous Final Scene,” which closes the album, is one of his best ballads as he sings about a relationship ending.
The rest of the material is very strong. There is the beauty of “Till It Shines,” and the rocking “Feel Like A Number” which should be turned up real loud. The two weakest tracks are “Ain’t Got No Money” and “Brave Strangers” and they are well above average.
Stranger In Town has received a lot of play on my stereo system over the course of the last thirty one years. It remains a classic rock ‘n’ roll album and my old vinyl copy will never grace a garage sale.