Face the Promise

Bob Seger’s new album, Face the Promise, came out this week. It’s the first album of new material for Seger since It’s a Mystery in 1995. That album was far better than anybody had a right to expect–one track, “Lock and Load,” would have sounded at home on Stranger in Town or Against the Wind, and deserves to be up there with Seger’s all-time great tracks. There’s nothing nearly so fine on Face the Promise, though. The single, “Wait for Me,” a midtempo love song in the “Against the Wind” vein, is the best track on the album, and does the best job of recapturing the classic Seger sound. “No More” is a declaration of independence that sounds like it could have been sung by the motorcycle rider in “Roll Me Away.” On that track and several others, you’ll notice that Seger’s voice is deeper now, and not always in a good way. He occasionally sounds like a slowed-down tape of himself. The only song on the album Seger didn’t write, “Real Mean Bottle” is a Vince Gill tune and features Kid Rock on duet vocals. Several years ago, I had to ask The Mrs. what Jessica Simpson was famous for–was she an actress? A singer? A reality TV star? I find myself asking the same thing about Kid Rock. Why is this guy famous, apart from marrying Pamela Anderson? He proves you can have a decent career hanging on to more talented performers, I guess. “Real Mean Bottle” sounds pretty good, although it’s not because of him.

If you are a Seger fan, you’ll probably want to snap this album up pretty fast. And if you are a Seger fan, the CD/DVD edition is for you. It contains a career retrospective, previously unreleased concert performances of “Still the Same” and “Hollywood Nights,” and videos for “The Fire Inside” and “Like a Rock.” Everybody else can download “Wait for Me” at iTunes for 99 cents and be just fine.

Note to somebody at Capitol Records: If ever there were an artist who needs a box set, it’s Seger. There was an unauthorized compilation of early singles a couple of years ago, and the two Greatest Hits albums contain the big singles and the best-known album cuts. However, Seger is one of the biggest stars of the 70s and 80s never to receive the scholarly box-set treatment, if only to resurrect the good stuff from his hard-to-find pre-1975 albums. Such a set is long overdue.

Tune of the Day: For record collectors, the Internet has taken away the thrill of the hunt to a certain degree. You can order up any record in the world with a few mouse clicks, but many collectors (myself included) consider that less than sporting. We like to find them in the wild. The other day I found “Hey St. Peter” by Flash and the Pan, which got some radio play in the summer of 1979 without breaking into the Hot 100. That failure to chart is a bit of a mystery, because it’s the kind of record that gets in your head and under your skin. If you heard it once back then, you’re likely to remember it today, so go get it here. (You can buy it here.)

(Our customary Friday chart feature will return next week.)

4 thoughts on “Face the Promise

  1. I was just about to send you an e-mail to get your thoughts on Bob Seger’s new CD. Bob performed on Leno last night. Hard to believe it was his first network appearance ever. At 61, he still looks good. I can’t wait to buy my copy.

  2. Anonymous

    Having discoverd Seger late in life.. i am 56 and a classic rock fan to be sure, I really enjoyed Face the Promise. Only one cut wasent my cup of tea and that was the last one,”The Long Goodbye” other than that I really enjoyed the new offering. i am looking forward to the Tour as I have never seen him in person.

  3. Anonymous

    I saw Bob Seger in concert way back in 1978. It was only a couple of years removed from “Live Bullet” which is one of the best “live” albums ever released. (Yes, I still have it on vinyl in my record collection.) He will undoubtedly tour in the Midwest, but I hope one of his stops is nearby so that I can see him perform again.

    What I like about Seger’s music is that it’s not complex. When he’s doing an up-tempo rock & roll song, he plays it simply for the fun of rock & roll. His ballads and more serious songs presents a reflection of lessons learned in life.

    By the way, another great song from Seger’s 1995 album “It’s a Mystery” is “Hands in the Air” which could’ve easily been “Her Strut” from the 1980 album “Against the Wind.” —Shark

  4. Pete

    I saw Bob back in early ’74…he was the openning act for Bachman Turner Overdrive! This was the first show that my friends and I ever attended, and being arrogant, pimple-faced high scool sophmores, we were there for BTO and BTO only!

    Even though we lived in Michigan, the Upper Peninsula(where we call home) is in an issolated state of its own. We seemed to have more in common with the Canadians on the other side of Lake Superior than with our fellow Michigander’s down south. We had never heard of this “Bob Seger” even though he lived a mere 7 hours away on the other side of the Mackinac Bridge that connected the two peninsulas. He had been making music for years down there and was somewhat of a regional hero in the Detroit area. To us Detroit might as well have been Mosscow! They were both worlds away!

    This Seger guy wasn’t in any of the current magazines like Circus, Circus Raves, or Hit Parader that we scoured daily. His music wasn’t played on the radio in the U.P.
    (He wasn’t about to break big nationally for a couple years yet.)
    He wasn’t even listed on our concert ticket!
    To us, he was just an inconvenience that was keeping us from “Let It Ride” & “Takin’ Care Of Business”!

    Needless to say, as Seger’s set progressed that night, we grew more and more intrigued by this unkown musician! By the time he announced that the name of the next tune was “Lucifer”, he had me! (What 15 year old isn’t going to put his fist in the air when he hears a song named after the devil!?!)

    During the summer of ’75, I recall hearing “Katmandu” on the radio from time to time and I remember thinking, “Cool, that Seger guy’s getting some airplay!”
    When “Live Bullet” came out the next year, he got some more airplay…an understatement on my part!
    My buddies and I jumped on the bandwagon with everybody else! (Hell, we were Seger fans from way back by then!)

    These days, I find myself throwing on Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man, Mongrel, Smokin’ O.P.’s, Seven, and Beutiful Loser a lot more often than B.T.O. II or Not Fragile. There’s something about those earlier albums that I find more satisfying than the post-Live Bullet stuff, although I own all that too. Maybe it’s my way of saying, “I discovered you before you were everybody else’s!”

    With talk of an upcoming tour, I keep scouting for dates and tickets and I can’t help but wonder, “Who’s going to warm-up for Bob?”

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