The Seger File An unofficial web site about the music of Bob Seger Last updated January 2006 Edited by Scott Sparling firstname.lastname@example.org
The Promised Live Album
Seger's shows at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit were taped, along with shows in more than a dozen other cities. In early 1997, Punch talked to the Detroit Free Press about a Seger video and live album that he was preparing. According to Punch, "Those shows were magic everywhere." The biggest problem, he said, would be sorting through all the material. Bob Talbert, March 16, 1997, Detroit Free Press. "Some good news, some bad news, for Bob Seger"
However, in October 1997, Seger told the Free Press that plans for a live album (as well as plans for a Greatest Hits Volume 2) were on hold, because he didn't feel the time was right for a live album. Instead, he was concentrating on a new studio album.
Before the live shows in Detroit, in March 1996, Seger said the band was "right on the edge of where we want to be." Seger told Punch "If you don't film and record this, you're crazy, because we're peaking." Brian McCollum, March 8, 1996, Detroit Free Press. "Detroit Never Forgets."
The Promised Studio Album
As of May 1998, Seger was looking at early 1999 for a new album. He said he had nine songs ready, of which he really liked six. He described them as "acoustic with a big beat. I'm using a lot of acoustic guitar and then saving the electric stuff for these real razor solos, kind of like sneak attack songs. And I'm really going for melody this time...trying to get back to good melody." May 14, 1998, The Oakland Press
"You know the Tom Petty song 'Walls'? It's got huge drums, but it's acoustic.Some of this stuff is like that. I love the sound of acoustic instruments -- some piano, some guitar -- then you go into a break with really ferocious electric guitar." Brian McCollum , May 19, 1998, Detroit Free Press. "Bob Seger duet for 'Hope Floats' gathered dust for years."
He wants four more solid songs before he goes into the studio, according to McCollum's article.
In March 1997, Punch reported that Seger was working on songs for a new studio album and had five or six songs ready. In October 1997, Seger told a Free Press reporter he had three solid songs and had thrown out six others.
In the October news story, Punch reported that Bob was writing "some interesting new things. That makes me feel real good, but I just hope he doesn't chase any more trends. People want Bob rockin' and rollin,'" Punch said. Bob Talbert, March 16, 1997, Detroit Free Press. "Some good news, some bad news, for Bob Seger"
What does that mean, I just hope he doesn't chase anymore trends? I thought Seger's songs were coming from the heart, not from his pursuit of trendiness. Anyway, what if Seger did want to chase trends? Hasn't he earned the right to play it anyway he wants by now?
In fairness, a manager's job is to manage the business -- which means sell ing records -- and Punch has succeeded wildly. Like Seger, he's earned the right to say what he wants. Personally, I hope Seger follows his heart wherever it leads, and who cares if the resulting album even makes the charts? But then, I'm not in charge of managing the business.
In March 1997, Seger said he was aiming at a March 1998 release date for the new album. Of course, Seger fans have learned not to hold their breath when Seger or Punch say a new album is coming at such-and-such a time. The predictions are almost always off by at least a year or two, or more. Free Press reporter John Smyntek once put it this way: "For Seger, an announcement that a recording is in its final stage can be about as reliable as a space shuttle launch date." John Smyntek, July 30, 1995, Detroit Free Press. "New Seger album due out this fall."
Will Seger Stay on the Edge?
In March 1997, Seger told an interviewer that he had been influenced too much by Capitol's desire for mainstream, middle-of-the-road albums. He said his future work would be more edgy than the mainstream music of the past. Seger said he had always wanted do a "progressive-period-Beatles-type record," on the order of 'I Am the Walrus,' or 'Are You Experienced?' -- with music that experiments with different sounds and sonics." Kevin Ransom, March 7, 1996, The Detroit News. "With a family in tow, Seger turns the page on his ramblin days."
Seger told Gary Graff of the Detroit Free Press that having a family has made him more daring in his work -- and that he knows that leaving behind his mainstream work will cost him some of the his fan base. "I don't want it to be completely unreachable to the audience, but my goal has always been to do something new in the process. That's fun. I think it's exciting for the listener, too. I'm not stupid, though. I know I'm going to lose some listeners along the way who like the old stuff. But this is me, and this is the way I've always been. This is the stuff I like." The Mr. Showbiz Interview Archive: Bob Seger, by Gary Graff, November 17, 1995.
By Seger standards, sales of It's A Mystery were sluggish. There are plenty of hardcore fans who loved the album...but in purely commercial terms, he could probably sell more records and charm more critics with a straight-ahead rock 'n' roll approach or even a album of Bob Seger mediums. The question is, will Seger stay on the edge, or move toward the middle? To quote from a movie with a memorable Seger song in the soundtrack, "At this point, we don't know" -- but wherever he goes, I'll be there.
The Bob Seger Collection. (Australian Greatest Hits Album)
1979. EMI Records, Australia
This rare Australian import features the following track list:
- Nightmoves (sic)
- Let it Rock (studio version)
- Leaning on My Dream
- Ship of Fools
- Still the Same
- Mongrel Too
- Hollywood Nights
- Travellin' Man
- Get Out of Denver
- We've Got Tonite
The record was issued as a one-disk, fold-out album. The songs are published not by Gear Publishing, but by Tumbleweed Publishing.
What's most remarkable to me is the mix of songs, including two from Mongrel. Since Seger didn't get any Australian airplay until after Live Bullet, the earlier songs from Mongrel, Smokin' O.P.'s and Seven may have been included to help sell those earlier albums. I love the variety of the playlist. Compare and contrast to the American greatest hits album, with its utter predictability.
The other thing I love about this album is the way I found it...in a used record store, a decade or so after Jesse -- in a last gasp of financial desperation -- recklessly sold the only copy we'd ever seen. I'd been waiting ever since for the record to surface, and it finally did. For all I know, it's the very same copy.
For those of you who have never seen this album, here's the cover art...
And the photo on the back...
...and best of all, the inside art.
Seger Classics is a two-record set released as a UK promo after Stranger in Town but before Against the Wind. The only copy I've evern seen has a price tag reading $350 -- but then, it was Number 1 of a limited edition of 1,000.
Seger Classics was put together by someone named Paul Gambaccini (I should probably know who that is, but I don't) to generate airplay and excitement prior to Seger's European tour. The cuts are all from existing releases. Here's the track list:Disc 1
Heavy Music, Ramblin' Gamblin' Man, 2+2=?, Song to Rufus, Bo Diddley, Rosalie
Get Out of Denver, U.M.C., Beautiful Loser, Katmandu, Jody Girl, Travelin' Man
Nutbush City Limits, I've Been Workin', Turn the Page, Lookin' Back, Night Moves, Mainstreet
Rock & Roll Never Forgets, Still the Same, Hollywood Nights, Till it Shines, We've Got Tonite
I think it's great that "Song to Rufus" is included...that's a great cut, but I doubt if it got much American airplay, let alone overseas.
One of the most interesting parts of Seger Classics is the liner notes, in which Gambaccini tries to explain (and promote) Seger to European program directors: Some excepts:
In the mid-sixties...[Seger] won the ears of Rosalie Trumbley, the Music Director of CKLW, the Motor City radio station with its transmitter in Windsor, Ontario. Rosalie was the boldest AM programmer in America, trusting her gifted ears and adding records long before they broke into the national charts. She earned CKLW a reputation as America's premier "barometer station," the AMer that let everyone know what would be popular in the future. For records like "Sunny" by Bobby Hebb and "When A Man Loves A Women" by Percy Sledge, the time gap was two months. For Bob Seger, it was two years.
[Maybe that's all true, but it wouldn't surprise me if "boldest AM programmer in America" was a little exaggerated. Among industry insiders, CK may have been regarded as America's barometer station...but if that's true, why did Seger get so much airplay on CK and so little everywhere else. As a kid, my feeling about CK was that they played too much Motown...I wanted to hear rock and roll, not the Supremes...but maybe that's just me.
Anyway, to continue, Gambaccini describes how "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" reached # 1 on CKLW:
"It was a great record to play after a jingle: it established it's own powerful mood in literally one second."
After "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man. according to Gambaccini, "Seger went into his professional dark ages marked by minor LPs and occassional small hit singles. 'Song to Rufus' was one of the best tracks from this period..."
["Song to Rufus" is a great cut -- but what the hell happened to "Lucifer?" Too Satanic for European radio?]
Gambaccini errs when he says Seger's comeback began with Smokin O.'P.'s, and compounds the error by claiming that OP's "included a re-recording of 'Heavy Music.'" Clearly it's the same track as the original Hideout version. (
Regarding "Rosalie," Gambacinni writes: "It is inconceivable that his tribute to Rosalie Trumbley was never a hit for him...'Rosalie' stiffed, to enjoy its due only when Thin Lizzy included it on Live and Dangerous and got a top thirty single out of it...
The liner notes continue: "Seger has said that of all the late sixties Detroit heroes, only he, Frey and Ted Nugent persevered to make it nationally. It has something to do with dedication as well as patience. If someone is absorbed by his craft, he will continue to do it long after less committed men give up. Seger's reaction to getting nowhere with gems like 'Get Out of Denver' and 'Rosalie' was to record more gems. Beautiful Loser was one of the great lost albums of 1974 ... Beautiful Loser sold 100,000 copies inside Michigan and 80,000 outside it.
Gambacinni also includes this interesting note: "In Britain, Elton John promised to streak at Wimbley if 'Night Moves' reached number one, and Bob Kilbey, Radio One's top toe, proclaimed Seger's Hammersmith Odeon concert his favourite of 1977. To no avail: Britain still preferred the Status Quo, and Seger remained undiscovered...
"For a Seger fan, waiting for the man to chart in Britain was like Galileo waiting for everyone else to realized the earth revolved around the sun..."
The cover art features the Silver Bullet girls. Here's a peek:
Thanks to a trusting friend and extraordinary Seger fan for loaning me this collectors' copy, so I could share it with everyone else on the Seger File.
A Very Special Christmas, 1987
Seger's cut on this compilation album is "Little Drummer Boy." Here's a short sample:
Seger sings back-up on Randy Newman's song "Christmas in Capetown," which is on the album, Trouble in Paradise. He also sings on "Take Me Back," which Seger described as "a half-assed "Night Moves" kind of track about Randy's Los Angeles roots." Timothy White, April 1983, Musician. "The Roads Not Taken."
The Seger Tribute Album
It doesn't exist. But it should, and here's what should be on it:
- Bruce Springsteen, doing "No Man's Land"
- Little Richard, doing "Feel Like a Number"
- Tom Petty, doing "Real At the Time"
- Tracy Chapman, doing "Night Moves"
- Bob Dylan, doing "Lucifer"
- Mary Lou Lord, doing "Ship of Fools"
- Aretha Franklin, doing "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man"
- James Brown, doing "Seen A Lot of Floors"
- Michelle Shocked, doing "2 + 2 =?"
- Melissa Ethridge, doing "East Side Story"
- Stevie Wonder, doing "Beautiful Loser"
- The Rolling Stones, doing "Fire Down Below"
- Jackson Browne, doing "The Fire Inside"
- Gillian Welsh, doing "Somewhere Tonight"
- Tina Turner, doing "Hollywood Nights"
- Steve Earle, doing "Railroad Days"
- Willie Nelson, doing "Roll Me Away"
- Beth Orton, doing "Like A Rock"
- Cassandra Wilson, doing "UMC"
- Tom Waits, doing "Mongrel Too"
- Oasis, doing "Manhattan"
- Joni Mitchell, doing "Turn the Page"
- Aerosmith, doing "Down Home"
- Albert King, doing "I Can't Save You, Angeline"
- John Cougar Mellencamp, doing "Making Thunderbirds"
- Cattie Curtis, doing "Big River"/"By the River" (medley)
- John Hiatt, doing "Fire Lake"
- Lucinda Williams, doing "Yesterday Rules"
- Don Henley, doing "Lock and Load"
- Arthur Lee, doing "Train Man"
- Van Morrison, doing "Brave Strangers"
- Paul McCartney, doing "Jody Girl"/"It's You" (medley)
- Prince, doing "Heavy Music"
- and of course, Pat Boone, doing "Cat"
Sing Your Own Seger
You can BYOB (Be Your Own Bob) with Hits of Bob Seger, Vol 1., a karaoke album on Sound Choice featuring musical tracks (not by the Silver Bullet Band) to Mainstreet, Against the Wind, Night Moves and Shame on the Moon.
A while back, the topic of discussion on the AOL board turned to whether Seger has ever recorded a "perfect" album. Many cyberfans thought he head and were eager to nominate their favorite albums. Yet for all Seger's accomplishments, I'm not convinced he's ever produced a perfect album. For example, I couldn't agree with the person who called Night Moves a perfect album. (It was and is, certainly, a perfect song.) By perfect, I mean every cut is killer, every cut is classic. Is "Sunburst" a killer cut? A classic? Probably not.
What about Beautiful Loser? A perfect album? It would certainly make my Desert Island Ten -- one of the ten albums I'd take if I was stuck on a desert album. But while "Momma" is heartwarming and honest, it's not what I'd call classic. As for "Sailing Nights"...well, hey, this is a great, great, album. I went through two copies before converting to CD. But perfect means perfect, and this isn't quite there.
As for Stranger in Town...well, maybe. The weak link is "Ain't Got No Money." And I personally don't go much for "We've Got Tonight," but don't get me started on that again. Anyway, if Stranger isn't perfect, it's close.
The album that seems closest to perfection in my book is one you might have trouble finding in stores today: "Seven." And no, not because of the album art. I'll admit, I'm giving a bit of a break to "Seen A Lot of Floors" and "Twenty Years From Now." They aren't quite in the stratosphere with the others. But I love the album, and I think it's as perfect as it gets.
Understand here that I'm not putting Seger down. I love his bullseye, classic, absolute killer stuff, and I love his stuff that isn't bullseye. Perfection is a bonus that Seger delivers with incredible frequency...it's just that it comes in moment-sized packages or song-sized packages, rather than album-sized packages, for the most part.
Bootlegs are illegal and unfair to performers and artists. For those who are curious, here's a brief rundown of purported Seger boots. I can't swear to the existence of all of these, but these are the ones I've heard about over the past couple decades. (Some of the following pictures, by the way, are stolen off the Internet. I figure fair's fair when you're stealin' from thieves.)
Bob Seger '66-'67
This boot is a compilation of the Cameo-Parkway singles. It's been around for at least 15 years, but recently appeared in CD form. (On the vinyl version, the cover is a rip of the cover of Noah. On the CD version, the cover is a rip of the back of Mongrel.) Also included, in addition to the Cameo Parkway singles, is "Looking Back," but the rarest cut is "Ballad of the Yellow Beret."
Michigan Brand Nuggets
This 2-LP set includes seven early Seger cuts. Reportedly the sound quality is pretty poor. THe same cuts might also be available on a Michigan CD compilation called Michigan Memories.
The Augora, Columbus Ohio, 2-74.
This radio broadcast of a local Seger show contains a couple of the killer cuts Seger used to do live, including J.J. Cale's "Bringing It Back From Mexico." The most rare cut is certainly "Sail On" -- a Seger original, not a cover of the various other songs with the same title. An inspiring, hopeful song that definitely should have found an album. The sound quality is poor.
Bob Seger, Live in Montreal, 1978
When will sellers and buyers wake up to the fact that the title is a red herring? Nothing here was recorded in Montreal, and it's certainly not from 1978. My theory is that the originally bootlegger purposely misnamed the album to throw the authorities off his trail.
In fact, this is a radio show, originally broadcast on WXRT in Chicago. It captures most of Seger's show at the Beginnings Club in Schaumburg, Illinois on June 23, 1976 -- four days before the historic Silverdome concert. It includes "Feel Like Breakin' Up Somebody's Home" and "Whole Lotta Love" among other cuts. The vinyl version usually leaves out the second encore -- "Lucifer" -- which is included on the CD version.
From the back of the "Montreal" boot. Wise up, folks...it's Schaumberg.
Rockin' the Radio
This seems to be a relatively new boot -- and also one of the best, in terms of quality and song selection. This is another radio show, called Retro Rock, originally aired in 1982 -- but the music is from two shows Seger performed in 1974. The set list includes four songs that have never been on any Seger albums: J.J. Cale's "Bringing It Back," Hounddog Taylor's "See Me In the Evening," Albert King's "Don't Burn Down the Bridge," and a Seger tune, "Always Have to Say Goodbye." Since this radio show aired in '82, it's odd that the boot didn't turn up until this year -- as far as I know.
Travelin' Man or Paris 1980
From a 11/24/80 show in Paris, France and a 1980 show from West Germany. Basically the Nine Tonight show. Reportedly not particularly good sound quality.
Hartford Civic Center, 6-18-83.
Basically the Nine Tonight show.
Live In Boston
A Boston concert from 1977. Released in the early 1980s. Also not particularly good quality, reportedly.
Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, USA 1986
This fake bootleg CD is Nine Tonight. It purports to be live material from Seger's 1986 tour. But it is transparently cuts from Nine Tonight and Live Bullet, Three cuts from Like A Rock (overdubbed with concert noise) are also thrown in.
Tapes of Seger's 8/16/86 show in Saratoga Springs, NY seem to be circulating. The set list includes "Yesterday Rules," the unreleased Seger song once slated, but never used, for the Back to the Future soundtrack.
Fourteen Years Ago
This is simply Back in '72, reissued by a bootlegger in 1986. All the song titles have been twisted slightly. For instance, "Midnight Rider" is "Late Night Spin." "I've Got Time" becomes "No Hurry, Babe," etc. The songs are credited to Robert Hennessy.
Ramblin' Gamblin Man
This is purportedly a boot of Ramblin' Gamblin' Man, with all the same songs, but slightly different versions, longer running times and different mixes. Released in Germany in 1993.
1996 Tour Videos
Various homemade videos from the 1996 tour are in circulation.
All in all, Seger isn't bootlegged much -- and the bootlegs that do exist don't offer much, in my opinion. The reason for this may lie in the shows themselves. Seger varies his set list very little. Live Bullet and Nine Tonight capture most of what Seger has played live since 1976, so bootlegs tend to be just poor-quality versions of his legitimate live albums.
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