Archive for Bob Seger

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: 1980s Singles!

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , on October 19, 2010 by 30daysout

The mid-1980s was a bad time for records.  Nobody wanted to buy vinyl albums any more, so the cassette was on the rise.  Likewise with good old plastic 45s; eventually those gave way to the “cassingle,” or cassette single.  But when it came to singles, the record labels didn’t stop there – they put out “extended play” singles with more than just two songs on it; “double packs,” with two singles (or four songs) for the price of one; and the dreaded 12-inch “extended version” singles.

Some labels were quicker to jump into the future than others, so today we’re going to listen to some singles that sort of reflected this rapid change taking place around 1987.  First, let’s jump back a year to ’86, and a good old-fashioned two-sided 45 by John Mellencamp.

Mellencamp had evolved from his Johnny Cougar days and by 1986 he had added his real surname to the John  Cougar handle, as he had turned into a roots rocker with the hits “Pink Houses” and “Crumblin’ Down,” and he was one of the heroes of the annual Farm Aid concert started the year before.  Mellencamp’s 1986 album was Scarecrow, which had as its main songs the urgent “Rain On The Scarecrow,” which focused on the then-precarious financial plight of the American farmer, and the self-explanatory “Face Of The Nation.”

The singles that came off Scarecrow weren’t so heavy: “Lonely Ol’ Night” is an old school rocker, and “Small Town” was cut from the same cloth as “Pink Houses.”  But the biggest hit off the album had nothing to do with farmers and everything to do with Heartland America: “R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.” subtitled “A Salute To ’60s Rock.”  The tune is a mix of vintage Motown, Mitch Ryder’s Detroit sound, some California vocal harmonies and a pinch of Texas garage rock organ.  It was Scarecrow‘s biggest hit, going all the way to No. 2 on the pop charts in 1986.  The flip side was a cover of the Drifters’ “Under The Boardwalk,” which was not found on an album until the pot-luck Rough Harvest (1999).

MP3: “R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.”

MP3: “Under The Boardwalk”

Running neck and neck alongside Mellencamp in the Great American Heartland Rocker category was Detroit’s own Bob Seger.  Seger and his Silver Bullet Band had been hitmakers since 1976, thanks to the two albums he released that year: Live Bullet and Night Moves.  Jump ahead ten years, and Seger was about to reach the tail end of his immense success.  His album Like A Rock came out in 1986, and it was his first LP in about six years.   The title song was a hit and a truck commercial, but today we want to spin “American Storm,” the anti-drug (specifically anti-cocaine) rant that modernized Seger’s sound to the times.

The flip side of the conventional single was a live cover of John Fogerty’s “Fortunate Son.”  But at the time I was working for a music magazine and Capitol sent over a special “extended play” record that put the A and B sides on one side, and on the flip were studio and live versions of “Hollywood Nights,” the leadoff tune from 1978’s Stranger In Town.  Whenever I listened to “Hollywood Nights” I kind of pictured it in the soundtrack of a movie where dudes were snorting lines in a Hollywood mansion; so it was kinda funny to hear it paired with Seger’s anti-coke tune.  In fact, this was the era of the hit TV show “Miami Vice,” and one song from Like A Rock – “Miami” – actually appeared in one episode.

MP3: “American Storm”

MP3: “Fortunate Son” (live)

MP3: “Hollywood Nights”

MP3: “Hollywood Nights” (live)

So now, let’s jump ahead a couple years to 1988.  The year before, I bought my first “cassingle” (it was the Grateful Dead’s “Touch Of Grey”) but there was already something new on the horizon: these little shiny things called compact discs.  Do you remember what a compact disc looked like in 1988?

They were only 3 inches in diameter!  Originally designed as the digital replacement for the 45 single, the CD-3 (as it was called) featured many of the big artists of the day but by the 1990s the practice proved to be not as economical as just pressing CD singles in the standard disc size we know and love today.

Our blog co-editor George bought this CD-3 as an import: Bruce Springsteen’s “Spare Parts,” from his 1987 Tunnel Of Love album.  “Spare Parts” was a stripped-down rocker released as a single in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Sweden.  The best version of the “Spare Parts” single, though, is a Japanese CD-3 from 1988 which features a studio and a live version of the song as well as “Pink Cadillac” (which appeared as the B-side of the “Dancing In The Dark” 45) and a live cover of Dylan’s “Chimes Of Freedom.”  That song would anchor its own EP in 1988, but without the little pre-song speech that Springsteen delivers on this version.

MP3: “Spare Parts”

MP3: “Pink Cadillac”

MP3: “Spare Parts” (live)

MP3: “Chimes Of Freedom” (live)

Sex, Drugs and …

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , , , on June 8, 2010 by 30daysout

There’s a new movie out, Get Him To The Greek, which is kind of a rock and roll road movie.  Jonah Hill plays a low-level record company executive charged with babysitting a decadent rock star, played by British comedian Russell Brand.  It’s pretty amusing and fairly entertaining (Brand plays Aldous Snow, reprising his role from Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and as you can imagine it gets all Serious and Introspective at the end.

Although this is a wild comedy, the movie does offer a fairly accurate peek behind the curtains of the rock and roll machinery – or at least, the parts of the machinery that still survive.  A crushing economic reality has smothered the excesses of the music business, and the world you see in Get Him To The Greek doesn’t really exist any more, if it ever did.  But as I said, it’s a comedy …

The film also toys with the idea of what it takes for a person to be a so-called “rock star.”  The characterization of Aldous Snow reinforces the general consensus that rock stars are also insecure, immature and sometimes lonely – just like the rest of us!

After seeing the movie with my son I told him this story: in the 1970s, the Who came through Houston on one of their tours.  There was this party thrown by record execs and the band was supposed to be there but I didn’t see any of the Who for the entire time I was at this party.  Anyhow, I was leaving and trying to find my way out when I came to a large usher dude standing in a doorway.  As he pointed to the exit, I peered into the darkness behind him.

It was a small little room, created by those portable room dividers and inside the room was a “Tommy” pinball machine.  And standing alone, quietly intent on the pinball game, was Roger Daltrey.  All by himself, in a dark alcove, while a big happy party raged just steps away.  That was one little peek into the “real”  life of a rock star, protected and kept in the darkness until it was time for the spotlights to be turned on once again.

MP3: “Turn The Page” by Bob Seger

MP3: “Going Up” by Infant Sorrow

MP3: “Life’s Been Good” by Joe Walsh

MP3: “Star Star” by the Rolling Stones

MP3: “The Clap” by Infant Sorrow

MP3: “What’s Your Name” (live) by Lynyrd Skynyrd

MP3: “We’re An American Band” by Grand Funk Railroad

MP3: “Real Good Looking Boy” by the Who

Lost Classics? The Pointer Sisters

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2009 by 30daysout

The Pointer Sisters had an enviable run at the top of the charts in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  Their hits included “Neutron Dance” and the most famous cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Fire.”  The albums that all of these songs appeared on were produced by 1970s über-producer Richard Perry.   One of the most successful music producers ever, Perry was no stranger to the upper reaches of the charts – he produced the hit albums Ringo (1973) for Ringo Starr, No Secrets (1972) for Carly Simon and many others.

Oddly, one Pointer Sisters album with Perry at the helm made no impression at all – in fact, when Priority was released in 1979, it disappeared virtually without a trace.  The sisters were still riding high off the No. 1 smash “Fire” and its album Energy from the previous year when Perry took them into the studio for this followup.

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30 Days Out (From Christmas): Rockin’ Stocking 1960s

Posted in 30 Days Out (From Christmas) with tags , , , , , , , on December 5, 2008 by 30daysout

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Day Eight – Another stocking full of random Christmas songs, holiday cheer and just plain fun from the 1960s.  Groovy!

MP3: “The Chipmunk Song” by Alvin & the Chipmunks with Canned Heat

MP3: “Sock It To Me Santa” by Bob Seger & the Last Heard

MP3: “Christmas Trumpets/We Wish You A Very Merry Christmas” by Ray Anthony

MP3: “Snoopy’s Christmas” by the Royal Guardsmen

MP3: “Holiday On Skis” by Al Caiola & Riz Ortolani

MP3: “Someday At Christmas” by Stevie Wonder

MP3: “We Wish You A Marijuana Christmas and a Happy Cocaine” by David Peel & the Lower East Side

MP3: “Santa’s Doing The Horizonal Twist” by Kay Martin & Her Body Guards

MP3: “The Man With All The Toys” by the Beach Boys

MP3: “Jingle Bell Rock” by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass

Review: “Join The Band,” Little Feat

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on August 29, 2008 by 30daysout

If you don’t know Little Feat, you don’t know jack.  All but forgotten in the increasingly moldy museum of Classic Rock Radio and seemingly remembered only by hardcore old-timers, Little Feat was arguably the best band of the 1970s.  In an era when artists aggressively pigeonholed and categorized themselves (Led Zeppelin = Hard Rock; Journey = Arena Rock, etc.) Little Feat staunchly maintained their outsider status throughout the peak of their run.

That run was, of course, the years that the band was led by the brilliant Lowell George.  A great songwriter, singer and (maybe) guitar player as well as a hopeless junkie who flamed out and finally died in 1979, Lowell George was the cracked heart and soul of Little Feat.  The best albums he made with the Feat – Sailin’ Shoes (1972), Dixie Chicken (1973) and Feats Don’t Fail Me Now (1974) – are essential additions to any rock library.

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Rock Moment: Bob Seger, Pittsburgh Civic Arena, 1980

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 13, 2008 by 30daysout

Bob Seger was flying high in 1980 and, for that matter, so were many in attendance on this hot summer night at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena. His monster hit album, Against the Wind, was at or near the top of the charts and Seger was on his game this night ripping through hits like “Night Moves,” “Hollywood Nights,” and “Fire Lake.”

 

Being a sophomore in high school, older girls with a pulse always looked appetizing and I happened to notice a blond girl sitting/standing in front of me (put it this way, when I wasn’t looking at the stage, I was staring at her ass, a fact that is not surprising to anyone who knows me) who was extremely hot. A few songs into the set my friend turned to me and said; “That’s Bob’s (last name withheld to protect the “not so” innocent) sister.” Bob was on my baseball team and a good friend of mine, and yes, I dreamed about his sister who was a junior.

 

Well, lets just say, papa roach was getting a workout on this evening. The Doobie Brothers would have been proud. Everyone around us was taking a hit (I was too much of a goody two shoes to do it. It’s probably why I never got laid in high school, but I digress). Anyway, the joint made it to my friend’s sister and she was going to town. She and her girlfriend couldn’t get enough. Then in the spirit of sharing, she turned to offer it to us. The expression on her face was one of … I think I need a wipe.

 

She literally didn’t move the rest of the show, and after the lights went up, begged us not to tell her parents. Well, of course, we didn’t, and the next time I saw her, she didn’t know who the hell I was. Nice guys do finish last …

 

MP3: “Nine Tonight” (live)

MP3: “The Fire Down Below” (live)

MP3: “Feel Like A Number” (live)

 

Bob Seger official website