Monday, October 24, 2016

40 Year Itch : Well, Firm and High


Bob Seger : Night Moves


On October 22, 1976 Bob Seger released the nostalgia-fueled Night Moves, his first platinum album. The title track always reminds of how shy I was as a 12 year old boy in 8th Grade, as terrified as I was captivated by the girls in middle school. Some already had points of their own, "well, firm and high." Would I soon be "workin' on mysteries without any clues /workin' on my night moves"? 

Well, no. As it turned out. Not for many years.

I recently listened to Night Moves after hearing how Seger had studies Springsteen's Born to Run and that quiet whispered part in "Jungleland" for some song writing inspiration. He told a radio interviewer "(Springsteen) had like a multiple bridge, he had various different things going on, and I thought to myself, 'That's how I'll finish 'Night Moves.'"



Did Seger study anyone else? "Sunburst" sounds like it uses the blue print from "Bargain" off of Who's Next or perhaps "Imagine a Man" from The Who By Numbers. "Ship of Fools" could have been a Rod Stewart song. "Sunspot Baby" might have been a great lost track from The Rolling Stones.


The album got an A- rating from Robert Christgau, one of many rock critics who praised the album: 

I've never had much truck with Seger's myth -- he's always struck me as a worn if well-schooled rock and roll journeyman, good for one or two tracks a year. But this album is a journeyman's apotheosis. The riffs that identify each of these nine songs comprise a working lexicon of the Berry-Stones tradition, and you've heard them many times before; in fact, that may be the point, because Seger and his musicians reanimate every one with their persistence and conviction. Both virtues also come across in lyrics as hard-hitting as melodies, every one of which asserts the continuing functionality of rock and roll for "sweet sixteens turned thirty-one." In one of them, the singer even has his American Express card stolen by a descendant of Ronnie Hawkins's Mary Lou, if not Mary Lou herself. Worrying about your credit card rating -- now that's what I call rock and roll realism. A-



Billboard wrote Detroit's favorite native son rocker has another tasty set of rock'n'roll with an extra bonus of two change-of-pace ballads thrown in. Seger is a tasteful and impressive guitar flash whose singing has improved markedly in fluency and expressiveness. His songwriting also provides no shortage of vehicles for effective rocking. Seger is really as good in this genre as anybody else around today. Best cuts: "Night Moves," "Mainstreet," "Rock 'N' Roll Never Forgets," "Sunspot Baby," "Mary Lou."





1 comment:

  1. I grew up in southern Michigan in the 70s-80s. Seger was ubiquitous on the radio then, across the dial. I've lived in a lot of places since, but hearing him (particularly this album), never fails to transport me back to October in the Midwest...

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