Great News: Some of Bob Seger’s LPs Available on iTunes Now!?!

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About a year ago I wrote a piece “Who’s Holding Bob Seger’s Early LPs Hostage?” In that post I lamented that you couldn’t buy any of Seger’s older LPs on iTunes or CD. If you wanted an old Seger album, say ‘Beautiful Loser,’ you had to hunt it down in the used vinyl store. Don’t get me wrong, I love hanging around old, used record stores as much as the next guy, but I’m that rare bird who still buys vinyl these days.

The only Seger albums you could find on iTunes were his two seminal live albums, ‘Live Bullet,’ and ‘Nine Tonight’ both essential listening (and a fascinating portrait of how the Silver Bullet Band developed over time). You could also buy one or two of Seger’s Greatest Hits packages. Other than that you could buy his last new albums which, due to the frailty of his voice, I might describe as, um, “not essential listening.”

After my piece last year, my friend Dr. Rock sent me a link to an article that had run in some magazine shortly after mine. The name of the publication escapes my swiss cheese memory, but in the article the author was lamenting that none of Seger’s music was available in any format: streaming, iTunes, CDs… nothing was available. It was due to Seger’s manager, a guy named Punch (which ought to be a sign something is wrong) feeling that the royalties weren’t good enough to merit release. The author of the magazine article, who was far more scientific and articulate than I’ll ever be, wondered if Seger’s manager was trying to erase Seger and his music from it’s very existence. Seger was ok with all of this and was quoted as saying, something like, “I handle the music, Punch handles the business, and it’s worked out pretty well so far…” Sigh. There needs to be a short, rudimentary business class required for all rock stars. I remember reading that Mike Tyson, famous boxer, saying he didn’t know what “percentages” were until he learned in math class in prison. Ahem…

Since it is Friday today, I always bounce out to iTunes for my weekly check to see if anything interesting has been released. I was actually looking for the new single by the Queens of the Stone Age. During my search, out of nowhere I saw a flash of “Bob Seger’s Catalog, On Sale Now” notice on the top scrawl. I know what you’re thinking – you never thought you’d see Bob Seger and QOTSA in the same sentence, but such is my schizophrenic musical tastes… After I reached my QOTSA page, I flipped back to the main “rock” page and it was’t there. I searched on Seger and voila, all of his popular, later albums were now available for purchase. ‘Night Moves,’ and ‘Stranger In Town’ are only $5.99. Wow. I was extremely pleased to see that this important heartland artist is finally making some his music available.

Now, this release is not perfect. While he does release a couple of older titles, ‘Beautiful Loser’ and surprisingly, ‘Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man’ from 1968 are out there but the bulk of his older catalog remains unreleased and un-remastered. It’s baffling that fabulous older Seger albums like ‘Seven’ or ‘Back In 72’ remain elusively out of reach. At least we’ve made the first step of restoring this Hall of Fame rocker’s catalog. He’s out on tour now so perhaps that was the motivation on the timing of these releases, but I can only speculate.

This may be old news, and if so, shame on Punch for not publicizing this more broadly. I just found this out and felt compelled, based on my earlier post, to alert all B&V readers that part of Seger’s catalog was available. In the old days, he’d have taken out a full page add out in the trade mags…I should have been a band manager… Colonel BourbonAndVinyl. I’d have at least taken better care of Elvis… but I digress.

It appears, and I’m pleased to say this, “Rock and roll never forgets!”

Bob Seger’s Tribute Single For Eagles’ Glenn Frey: “Glenn Song”

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Here we are this week with another reminder of how horrible 2016 was in terms of losing Rock Stars. We saw the one year anniversary of the passing of Glenn Frey, eulogized in a post on B&V a year ago. To commemorate the occasion, Bob Seger released a new single, entitled “Glenn Song,” in honor of his fallen friend.

Frey and Seger had been friends in their earlier days, back in Detroit, where they both hail from. Seger was quoted yesterday as saying Glenn was like “a kid brother to me.” I know they remained friends through all the fame and fortune. Glenn plays an exquisite guitar solo on Seger’s tune “Til It Shines.” In this era of enormous egos and “celebrity feuds,” it seems really nice that Bob would take the time to honor his friend by recording this song. Something that doesn’t get talked about much in the world is the importance for men to have other dudes to hang out with. I don’t know what I’d do if my life long pal Doug wasn’t still living in KC. All guys need a guy to grab a beer with in our lives… or a gal to grab Cosmo’s with if you’re a chick. All of which makes this ode to friendship kind of touching.

The song is clearly a deeply heartfelt piece of work. And as Seger readily admits, this will not be a hit single, nor was it intended to. It’s just a nice thing to have done for a  buddy. There’s no chorus. In the lyrics Bob just describes how he saw Glenn… “Whenever I think about you I smile.” These guys were clearly close. Bob goes on to sing, “You were young, you were bold, you loved your rockin’ soul,” which I think sums up ol’ Glenn Frey to a T. He goes on to say, “You were strong, you were sharp, but you had the deepest heart.” That’s pretty nice stuff.

I have to doff my hat to Mr. Seger on this one. It’s not a great, great song and it’s on the melancholy end, but it’s a nice tune. It’s available for free download or streaming on Seger’s website, so this isn’t some kind of cash-in attempt on Seger’s part. You can find the song here:

http://www.bobseger.com

I feel the same way about Glenn Frey as Seger sings in this final line from the song, “There was no one like you…”

It’s a long dark ride folks… Keep your friends close.

Cheers!

Conspiracy Theory: Who Is Holding Bob Seger’s Early LPs Hostage?

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 I grew up in the Midwest, the breadbasket of the US. In those days, one name was synonymous with rock and roll and that was Bob Seger. He was bigger than US Steel in the Midwest. I think they coined the term “heartland rocker” for Bob Seger. He was to the Midwest what Springsteen was to the East coast back then. Of course Springsteen went on to be bigger than anybody. I love what I heard Dylan say about the two of them one day on Theme Time Radio Hour: “They say Seger is a poor man’s Springsteen but I think Springsteen is a rich man’s Bob Seger.” My friend Jeff, Nancy’s brother, who I like to call Dr Rock, always likes to remind me that he thinks Springsteen ruined Seger with a lot of bad advice, which I think is spurious. As usual, I think I’ve digressed here… Suffice it to say, Seger’s music was ubiquitous when I was young. Listening to Seger was like saying the Pledge of Allegiance, it was something you did every day before school.

Most people, when they think of Seger, think of his albums released between his two great, great live albums “Live Bullet” and “Nine Tonight.” What they don’t realize is that the albums, “Night Moves,” “Stranger In Town” and “Against The Wind” are really actually late period Seger. Well, I guess now they’re mid-period Seger, but I don’t want to get lost in the details. Seger really hit it big when “Live Bullet” came along. I don’t think anybody did the math and realized that those songs on “Live Bullet” had to come from somewhere. Most people were unaware that Seger had eight albums out before he got big. I don’t know if the guy just had bad luck, shitty support from his record label or bad producers but he never got a break. His first studio album to really have an impact was “Night Moves.” Prior to that he wasn’t very well known outside of his native Michigan, which is a shame.

We live in an era now where most artists’ back catalogs are curated with more care than the art held at the Louvre. There are giant, deluxe box sets of unreleased material. There are constant re-releases of remixed versions of our favorite albums. The Stones remaster their records almost every year in what I believe is a marketing ploy. Zeppelin just issued yet another series of remasters with unreleased material on each studio album they released in their heyday. Many artists are doing this with an eye toward their place in history. Some artists, including the aforementioned Springsteen, have done box sets consisting of remasters of their original albums only, no bonus material, just the old records in a new package. “Oh well, I guess I’ll be buying “The White Album” again…” At the very least you see the old albums “remastered for iTunes.”

The one notable exception – and this is where the conspiracy theory comes in – is Bob Seger. Not only can you not find his first eight albums, you can’t even buy his biggest albums on iTunes. He’s released his two must-have live albums on iTunes and a couple of greatest hits packages but not his actual albums. He did release the curious “Early Seger Vol. 1” which was great but it sort of leaves you wanting “Vol 2” which is nowhere in sight. You can still buy his late period records on CD but not on iTunes? You can’t find his early records on CD either? WTF is going on here? Who’s responsible? I suspect some sort of arch villain has the master tapes locked in a vault, guarded by a giant octopus. As usual, I suspect the corporate thugs at Capitol Records, his record label for all these years, are behind this somehow. There must be something I’m missing here. There is some rumor that Seger just doesn’t care about his back catalog or he thinks those records are substandard, probably because the listening public was too daft not to buy them by the millions. Some of the production was substandard but there are records missing that are screaming for release.

At a bare minimum Seger, or somebody, needs to see to the remastering and release of these following records… If you can find these on vinyl in a used record store, do yourself a favor and buy them. They may be scratched or have more pops and hisses than the bacon grille down at the local Waffle House, but they are not only worth it, they are all we have until someone, for the love of God, releases these albums properly:

  1. “Ramblin Gamblin Man” 1968 – this was Seger’s first release. It’s under the name “The Bob Seger System.” The title track was the only really big hit. It’s a part of his live set to this day… The world needs the Bob Seger System, people.
  2. “Mongrel” 1970 – I have a copy of this, and it’s in pretty bad shape, but it rocks in a “rawks” kinda way. Seger howls the vocals. He even does a cover of “Mountain High, River Deep.” This is just a super, overlooked album.
  3. “Smokin O.P.’s” 1972 – I’m not usually a fan of covers albums (the title supposedly means smoking other people’s songs) but this is a great set of tunes. I really like his versions of “Bo Diddley” and “Love The One Your With.” His version of “Let It Rock” the ol’ Chuck Berry chestnut was his encore, show ender for years.
  4. “Back In ’72” 1973 – There’s a moment on “Live Bullet” before (I think) “Turn the Page” where Seger says to the crowd, “this is from back in ’72.” I always thought he was merely referring to the year the song was released. I had no idea this album even existed. It’s the pick of the litter here. There is not a bad moment on this album. He even covers “Love the One Your With,” a ballsy move in those days. How this album didn’t make it big is a mystery to me. Seger has to put this album back out.
  5. “Seven” 1974 – Seger’s creatively named seventh album… This album doesn’t have any hits but it’s also one of my personal favorites. The original version of “Get Out of Denver” which is so wonderfully performed on “Live Bullet” is on this record. It’s simply the best Chuck Berry song not by Chuck Berry out there… with all due respect to the Stones, who have been doing Chuck for years.
  6. “Beautiful Loser” 1975 – This album is the one right before “Live Bullet” and had the biggest impact on that live record. This is another sensational album that I defy you to find a copy of.

The only early Seger album I’d warn you away from is “Noah.” Seger didn’t even do much singing on that record. There were rumors of depression and of course the famous false rumor of him having throat cancer. The guy just dropped out of the band for a while folks. Anyway, I beseech the powers that be, whoever is holding up the release of these albums and his more popular records on at least iTunes, please put this music out. I’m not usually a “second shooter on the grassy knoll” type of guy but this ranks up there with Amelia Earhart’s disappearance in terms of world mysteries for me…

Look for these records in your local used vinyl store and rock out people.

Cheers!

Bob Seger’s KC 1980 Concert, Jack Daniels, & My Mom’s Knee

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My wife signed us up at a gym a few years ago. I was perfectly content to continue working out in our basement, all by myself. Such is my reclusive nature these days. Admittedly it’s been a great experience for my wife, she’s met people and made friends. For me, not so much. I keep running into people from all stages of my sketchy past: grade school, high school, college, even my current job. Talk about a motivation killer. I actually forced myself to go out there yesterday and I found myself staring vacantly at a TV screen blaring some young chick’s video. My wife startled me back to reality with the curt question, “What are you staring off into space for, you need to use that machine or move…” I hadn’t really been focused on the video, I had just seen someone I think I dated in high school. It ended badly (my fault). I mumbled a reply to my darling wife, “I’m just watching this Taylor Swift video…” She crinkled up her nose, “Honey, that’s not Taylor Swift, that’s Beyonce.” I thought everything was Taylor Swift these days… Oh, well.

Seeing someone at the gym I knew when I was in high school had me thinking. Music just seemed more dangerous back then. Punk had come and gone, new wave was big. Concerts were major events. They involved planning and cunning. You had to come up with the cash for the tickets, gas money, and most importantly booze. I couldn’t help but let my mind wander back to October 23rd, 1980 and the Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band show I saw that night. Seger was touring in support of his seminal album, ‘Against the Wind’ and my buddy Brewster (name changed to protect the guilty) and I were stoked to see him. Unlike the Springsteen concert later the next year, Brewster actually called me on this one. It was my first Seder show.

About a week before the show, we discovered a liquor store with an elderly cashier. He wouldn’t ask you for your I.D. he’d do this weird stare-you-in-the-eye thing. I was tall as a kid. I went to bed one night at 5 feet and seemingly woke up the next day over 6 feet tall, that’s how quick my growth spurt was. So I always drew the short straw and had to be the guy who went into the liquor store. My practically terminal acne couldn’t have helped… I had twice defeated the “stare-down” test. I believe I could now beat a lie detector because of this cooky old cashier. There was always more pressure to make the buy when it was for a concert.

The night of the show, I pulled out the flask sized bottle of Jack Daniels we’d purchased the previous weekend and stuffed it into the front of my pants. I pulled out the t-shirt and flannel shirt I had on and covered the bottle. I just had to clear about 15 minutes in the living room with my mother, my dad was out of town, and it’d be off to Kemper Arena to see Bob Seger. Fuck yeah! There was just something about Jack Daniels and rock and roll. I had seen the iconic pics of Jimmy Page swilling the stuff backstage at a Zeppelin show. There was a photo of Mick and Keith huddled around a bottle of Jack Daniels while recording ‘Exile On Mainstreet’. Oh yes, I was carrying the rock and roll flame. Even if I was carrying it hidden in my crotch. The top of the bottle stuck out where my belly button was but I just pulled out my shirt a little more and folded my arms, like I was hiding an unwanted hard-on in math class (we’ve all been there).

I sauntered down to the living room like Paul Newman in “The Sting”. I was a gangster. I was one with Mick & Keith. The TV was on in the living room and my mother, always an anxious woman, was bounding around the house. She was cooking dinner for my brother and racing into the living room to see the show. I wasn’t really focused on her, she was more of a blur around the house. Suddenly, she was standing beside me, in front of the TV. There was a woman in tights and gym clothes moving around the screen to some awful music. I thought she was having a televised seizure. My mother exclaimed, “Oh, Jazzercise, I love this…” I couldn’t help but mutter, “Ma, you wanna be careful here…” But before I knew what was happening my mother was doing a jerky imitation of what was happening on the screen. My mother had gone from cooking dinner and pestering me to exercising with little to no warm up. There was no way this was going to end well… I just kept thinking, at least she’s distracted. That’s when I heard the loud “pop” noise followed by a blood curdling scream from my sainted mother. Yep, she’d blown her ACL. She crumpled to the ground like a rag doll. I was going to bend over to help her up, but I had a bottle of Jack Daniels crammed down my pants.

She was frantic and I wasn’t much better. I knew I had to do something or I was going to miss the concert. This was Bob Fucking Seger, ma. My buddies were supposed to pick me up any minute. I didn’t want to leave my mom laying on the floor, but she was sort of forcing my hand. I quickly called the neighbor lady, my mom’s best friend. She could hear my mother caterwauling in the background and she suggested I call an ambulance. Jesus, how was I gonna pull this off? No one told me that when you call for an ambulance, the cops come. That information might have altered my strategy. Within minutes I had two cop cars in front of the house and a cop in my living room, standing over my mother. I stood, with my arms folded in front of the Jack, next to the cop, over my prostrate mother. “So, your mom says you’re gonna see Seger tonight?” I wanted danger, here it was…”Well, yeah Officer Friendly, I’m kind of a music nut…” He was eyeballing me like I was a “person of interest”. We continued to make small talk until my little brother finally emerged from upstairs to see what all the flashing lights were about. I was soaked in sweat. I had visions of the cop realizing I had whiskey in my pants, (and on my breath, I’ll admit I’d sampled the fire water) and going berserk with his night stick, beating me about the head and shoulders until I was laying next to my mother on the ground. With my brother now engaged with “the heat” I slowly moved outdoors to the front porch. The ambulance had finally arrived and was in the driveway. I waved meekly, while holding the Jack with my other hand. I looked like I had an upset stomach…

It was at that moment that Brewster’s car pulled up. I lived on a cul-de-sac. He was literally on top the two cop cars before he knew what was happening. I could see the look on his face – half questioning, half utter terror. If I’d lived on a through street he’d probably have kept driving. Although since I was holding the whiskey, I had some leverage. I immediately bounded off the front porch. I pointed to the front door for the EMTs and said, “She’s in there, I have to go now…” With my head bowed and my hands on my stomach I raced for the car and practically dove into the front seat. Brewster slowly turned the car around and then raced out of my neighborhood.

I felt awful for leaving my mother, but man what a concert that was. Buzzed on adrenaline and Tennessee sipping whiskey I was blown away by Seger. He opened with “Nine Tonight” and I was in rock and roll heaven. By the time he played the guitar solo in “Her Strut”, mid-concert, we’d abandoned our lower balcony seats and headed for the floor. We slipped past security and made it up to the stage in time for “Let It Rock” the monster encore. Drew Abbott, a true unsung hero guitarist in rock music, stood in front of me and destroyed his guitar solo. When the show was over, Brewster and I just stood there passing the Jack, as people filed out and the roadies took the stage. I had suddenly remembered my poor, frail mother, lying on the floor, when suddenly to my right a blonde woman had pulled up her shirt to reveal her two lovely breasts to the roadies in an attempt to get back stage. They were the first boobs I’d ever seen at a concert. I thought I’d died and ascended to Nirvana. All thoughts of familial loyalty fluttered from my adolescent mind.

Now that’s danger…

Rock and Roll and Jack Daniels… They belong together. Do you have a concert story to share? Comment and I’ll post it.

Be careful out there folks… Beware of any exercising mothers… Stretch out ladies…. and as always, Cheers!