This is Bob Seger. He has a new album out these days, and it's been described everywhere with epithets such as "Heartland Americana" or somesuch. I've heard a couple of tracks from it, and they basically sound like a 2006ified version of his early-'90s ballads, such as the ubiquitous "Hard As A Rock" song, snippets of which could be heard on Chevy Trucks commercials for years.
The photo above, of course, is not from 2006. It's from the inner sleeve of his 1970 album, Mongrel. I didn't know much "Seger in the '70s" history, other than the fact that he must've had quite a few albums under his belt by the time he'd recorded the solid Nine Tonight live album, which I've had since I was in high school and have liked quite a bit (although it tends to be packed with radio-friendly schmaltz such as "You'll Accomp'ny Me" and "Main Street", although its version of "Rock & Roll Never Forgets" is very credible). I read that his cover of "River Deep, Mountain High" on the aforementioned Mongrel was really something to hear, so I, ahem, acquired the album.
(Incidentally, when I first saw the picture above, I immediately shouted out, "Holy fuck, that's Tiger Stadium!" I'd know that grand old lady's view-obstructing poles, upper-deck overhang and sloping ramps connecting it to the lower deck anyday.)
I am absolutely blown away by this album. The current track is the sixth one, "Lucifer," which is a gritty, organ-accented taste of bluesy boogie-rock, with the kind of attitude you see cropping up around the same time in other Detroit bands such as Mitch Ryder and the inimitable MC5. And it's not even the best track on this album so far.
I've always wondered what turns artists irrelevant. Sloan is a good example: Smeared was sloppy, but Twice Removed and One Chord To Another are two of my absolute favourite albums of all time. But have you heard anything they've done since 2000? It's idiotic, simplistic drivel, and when a friend of mine told me, "Hey, you like Sloan, did you hear they're coming out with a new album?" &amp;#8212; news that would've sent me into orgasmic ecstasy ten years ago — I replied, "You know, I don't even care anymore. I'll keep one ear open for their first single, but other than that, I will make no effort to hear anything they do anymore."
And now I'm confronted with this fact: Bob Seger used to make amazing music. But now he doesn't. Why is this?
Aside: I'm seeing The Who tomorrow night in London, Ontario. I'm curious to hear the new tracks they've put together. I'm also packing earplugs.
Aside #2: Did you know that The Mars Volta has a new album, Amputecture? I didn't, but now a copy of it is on its way towards my very house, apartment or domicile.