Some of the folks that know me well are familiar with a long-running rumor that I hate Bob Seger. That’s not really accurate.
The truth is, that I hate the song Old Time Rock and Roll, and I don’t particularly enjoy Like A Rock. I hold such a digust for Old Time Rock and Roll that I actually did tell the DJ at my own wedding that he would not be paid if he played the song (he complied). The opening notes alone are horrifying, and I could easily write paragraphs about my overall dislike of the song. Regardless, due to my relationship with the music of Mr. Seger, it was quite a surprise when remastered copies of LIVE BULLET and NINE TONIGHT showed up on CD here last week.
1976’s LIVE BULLET and 1981’s NINE TONIGHT are interesting in that they’re both live albums, and that each showcases BOB SEGER & THE SILVER BULLET BAND at two vastly different levels of their career – just five years apart.
Growing up in the Midwest, the music of Bob Seger is a staple. A blue-collar hero that came to prominence through performances in the Detroit area, Seger had already been releasing albums for nearly a decade by the time that LIVE BULLET became a fixture on radio stations far and wide. A respected live recording that has since gone 5x Platinum, the remaster sounds great, and the essence of the performance is well-preserved through great use of the sterero channels for a “you’re right there with the band!” feel. It’s mid-record when the band really hits it’s stride, with funk jams like I’ve Been Working and Bo Diddley straddling the road anthem Turn the Page.
NINE TONIGHT shows a much shinier version of The Silver Bullet Band, polished-up and streamlined, with three more studio albums under their belts post-LIVE BULLET. The tempo tends to be faster, the performance tighter, and the runtimes shorter. Hollywood Nights makes an appearance here, as does Against the Wind, and Night Moves. The dreaded Old Time Rock and Roll sounds better than the studio version – dare I admit, passable, with it’s reworked intro that actually feels like rock n’ roll.
LIVE BULLET succeeds with it’s raw energy and rough, organic presentation. It gives us a rock band. NINE TONIGHT feels like it has less soul as it gives us a pop-rock band.
LIVE BULLET: 4/5 Stars | NINE TONIGHT: 3.5/5 Stars