Sunday, September 25, 2011

Music Review: Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band-Live Bullet

Article first published as Music Review: Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band - Live Bullet [Remastered] on Blogcritics.

Often considered the album that finally got Bob Seger and his band a long overdue national acclaim beyond Detroit and the state of Michigan, Live Bullet has been released in a re-mastered version by Capitol as the sixty six year old singer and the Silver Bullet Band embark on the second leg of their current North American tour. Originally recorded in Detroit's Cobo Hall in September of 1975, and released the next year, the band rocked out on a mix of original Seger written songs some of which were to become rock classics and covers of icons like Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley fed by the electric energy of an enthusiastic audience. What they ended up with was a multi-platinum album that together with the '76 studio album Night Moves made Seger and the Silver Bullet Band a household name.

The concert included a quintet of live versions of songs from his 1975 album Beautiful Losers. There was the popular title song as well as a high powered rollicking "Katmandu" and a dramatic driving "Travelin' Man," two of which were destined for greatest hits compilations, and the other should have been. Also from that album there are the lesser known "Jody Girl" and a cover of Tina Turner's "Nutbush City Limits." From his Back in '72 album, the set includes another Seger standard, the classic "band on the road" song, "Turn the Page" and a funky version of Van Morrison's "I've Been Working." From '72's Smokin' O.P.'s, the band expands Chuck Berry's "Let it Rock" into an audience pleasing eight minute plus medley which closes the concert with an explosive climax. They also play a Bo Diddley medley and Seger's own "Heavy Music" from that album. The Bo Diddley-Chuck Berry vibe is up front in Seger's "Get Out of Denver" from his Seven album, and there's also a subdued bluesy change of pace in "U. M. C.". Then there's "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" from Seger's first album.

Added as a bonus track to this new CD is a live version of "I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home" which had been recorded at the Pontiac Silver Dome in 1976. It is a down and dirty blues that has been recorded by the likes of soul singer Ann Peebles and mellow voiced blues man Albert King, but seems tailored for the grittier voiced Seger and deserves more attention. It is a nice addition to what is already a nicely varied set list.

Not all live concerts deliver the goods for a successful record. Sometimes the band is busy trying to promote unfamiliar new material that disappoints the audience. Sometimes they seem to be phoning it in. Sometimes they seem to be playing for themselves and the audience be damned. But when the band is on its game, when the audience is tuned in, when the music is memorable—when all these planets are aligned, there is magic. Live Bullet was magic when it first came out; Live Bullet is magic today.

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