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.)