Posts Tagged ‘The Silver Bullet Band’

Travelin' Man by Bob Seger on Amazon Music - Amazon.com

Bob Seger knew all about disappointment, after years of struggling to find a wider audience. the album “Beautiful Loser”, released in April 1975, unfolded as a rumination on those feelings.

The title track, a microcosm of hopelessness, speaks to all of it: “The original concept came from Leonard Cohen’s line, ‘He’s reaching for the sky just to surrender,'” Seger told Rolling Stone in 1976. “You know, people who set their goals so low that they’ll never be disappointed.”

Seger’s hard-charging brand of heartland rock had already attracted a locally fervent audience in Michigan, But the next six studio projects never got any higher than No. 171. (Seger’s most recent release, 1974’s Seven, hadn’t charted at all.) His life in music was at a crossroads, and Seger had clearly begun to worry about about giving in.

As that worry took root, he struggled to move forward with the title track. A key voice of reason got things back on track. “I wrote five different ‘Beautiful Loser’s before I settled on one for the record, There was a ballad, a blues – I couldn’t find the right tone for the song. So, I played it for Glenn Frey, an old friend, to get some advice. He was the first person to ever hear it. And he loved it, so I stuck with the song until it all got pieced together.”

More than that, Frey convinced Seger to remain true to this quieter, more personal tack. “If he hadn’t come, seriously, I probably would have put out another record like Seven – basically all rock ‘n’ roll, with maybe one ballad,” said Seger. “But Frey liked it all. He said, ‘Go with it, man. Do something diverse.'”

The version of Bob Seger ultimately embraced by the masses first came into focus here, with reflective ballads like the title cut claiming just as much prominence as rockers like “Katmandu.” This is the record Seger was touring on when the game-changing ‘Live Bullet’ was recorded

Seger recorded the ballads with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, and the rockers with the Silver Bullet Band, setting a new pattern. Either way, he rarely went off topic on Beautiful Loser, taking a notable breather with a furious one-take update of Tina Turner’s “Nutbush City Limits.” Even “Jody Girl” a character sketch that had nothing to do with his career struggles, is almost unbearably quiet.

“It’s a concept album, to a degree,” Seger acknowledged in a 1975 radio interview. “The other seven songs all have a connected theme: It’s basically life on the road and my concept of what a winner or a loser is in life, as opposed to just the music business. Some of the songs talk about how we maintain our sanity – some of the songs are darker, about the loneliness.”

Beautiful Loser ended up opening a whole new area of introspection in Seger, not just thematically but in the way he approached every part of his craft. Already emerging as one of rock’s most heartfelt songwriters, he began re-thinking his approach on stage, too. “The worst thing that happened to me,” he told Marsh, “was that I got blown away by guitar – and for about four years, I lost myself in lead guitar. I sort of stopped being a songwriter, stopped being creative and just tried to be a lead guitar player more than anything else.”

After a four-album career-opening run on Capitol, Seger signed with Palladium Records, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. run by his manager Punch Andrews. Three underperforming albums later, Warners rejected the downbeat Beautiful Loser out of hand. He returned to Capitol Records, setting the stage for a huge breakthrough.

Along the way, Seger tacitly admitted that the answers might remain elusive. On “Fine Memory,” he leaves the final lyric unsung – never repeating “I think I’m gonna take it with me.”. “Sailing Nights” found him feeling utterly adrift. Still, Seger seemed more resolute than ever on escapist-themed tracks like “Travelin’ Man” and “Katmandu.”

Why “Katmandu”? Seger he later told the local magazine that the capital city of Nepal, located in the Himalayas between China and India, was “a very mysterious and beautiful place in a lot of ways, like another planet for me.”

Beautiful Loser appeared set to live up to its name. The album had only middling sales, and the title song failed to reach the Top 100. But the material found new life out on the concert trail, setting the stage for Seger’s career-making moment with 1976’s classic album “Live Bullet”.

Some 300,000 of the first half-million copies sold in Detroit alone,  Live Bullet just kept going, eventually becoming certified platinum five times. As its star rose, so did Beautiful Loser, whose songs dominated the setlist.

Bob Seger had released eight albums and had been on the road for nearly a solid decade when he played Detroit’s Cobo Hall on September 4th, 1974 — but he was still largely unknown outside of the Midwest.

‘Live’ Bullet is a live album recorded at the Cobo Hall , released in April 1976, during the heyday of that arena’s time as an important rock concert venue. For Detroit fans, however, the entire Live’ Bullet recording captured a Detroit artist at the height of his energy and creativity, in front of a highly appreciative hometown crowd. ‘Live’ Bullet also captured the wild and free spirit of rock concerts in the seventies, and has great historic value in that regard. Rolling Stone Critic Dave Marsh called it “one of the best live albums ever made.

The main problem was that he simply couldn’t capture the magic of his stage show on in a studio, which is likely why Live Bullet made such a huge impact. His cover of Ike & Tina’s “Nutbush City Limits” got a ton of national airplay, and suddenly Live Bullet was selling like crazy. It was also fueled by “Turn The Page,” a 1973 track about the rigors of touring life that has been a mainstay of classic rock radio for the past 40 years. “We were doing, like, 250 to 300 shows a year before Live Bullet,” Seger said in 2013. “We were playing virtually five nights a week, sometimes six, as the Silver Bullet Band and we just had that show down.”

Image result for bob seger poster cobo hall 1974

It’s pretty stunning to think just how long Bob Seger’s has been around,”When Bob Seger  played live in Atlanta earlier this month.supporting the new album “Ride Out” and reflecting on the sizable arsenal of hits at his disposal songs like “Night Moves.” “Old Time Rock ‘N’ Roll.” “Mainstreet.” “Hollywood Nights.” “Like a Rock.”

The collection of standout material grew late last year with his most recent album,“Ride Out”. Out on the road with The Silver Bullet Band for the “Ride Out” tour,  Bob Seger has now released a video for “California Stars,” a cover of the Woody Guthrie song originally recorded by Billy Bragg and Wilco on Mermaid Avenue.

The video captures some of the spirit of the “Ride Out” tour and the live energy of a Seger show, featuring footage from the road. Remaining dates for Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band’s Ride Out tour can be found on Seger’s website.