Following years of road and studio work, classic rocker Bob Seger hit his stride in the 1970s and ’80s with a long run of rootsy, heartfelt hits from the heartland.
Seger’s breakthrough came in 1976 via his in-concert album, “Live Bullet.” Recorded in front of a Seger-loving crowd in Detroit, “Live Bullet” features songs from his 1975 album, “Beautiful Loser,” and renditions of classics by Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Tina Turner. A double-album, it went gold and eventually multi-platinum.
Those beloved hits include “Hollywood Nights,” “Still the Same,” “Old Time Rock & Roll” and “Against the Wind.” Seger can also draw from his well-received, 17th studio album, “Ride Out.”
“I feel really good about this record,” he said in an album-release announcement. “This album touches on how I think a lot of us feel about finding our place in a more complicated world — from how we appreciate things as simple and pure as love, to navigating through the corruption and violence that permeates the news. It sums up a lot of feelings I have about a variety of subjects.”
Released in October, “Ride Out” debuted at No. 3. It features new Seger songs “All of the Roads” and “Hey Gypsy” and interpretations of John Hiatt’s “Detroit Made” and Jeff Tweedy and Jay Bennett’s musical setting for a set of Woody Guthrie’s lyrics, “California Stars.”
The album’s non-originals also include Steve Earle’s “The Devil’s Right Hand” and Australian singer-songwriter Kasey Chambers’ “Adam and Eve.”
Seger produced and recorded “Ride Out” in Nashville with ace Music City session players. Their credits include Mark Knopfler, Tammy Wynette, Brad Paisley, Neil Young and Joe Walsh.
“Ride Out” follows Seger’s million-selling 2006 studio album, “Face the Promise,” and 2011’s multi-platinum retrospective, “Ultimate Hits: Rock and Roll Never Forgets.”
A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame, Seger has sold more than 52 million albums. He’s received 13 platinum and seven multi-platinum sales awards for such classic albums as “Night Moves,” “Stranger in Town,” “Against the Wind” and “Nine Tonight,” all of which has sold more than five million copies each.
Seger’s 40-date “Ride Out” tour ends March 28 at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Critics have praised Seger and the Silver Bullet Band throughout the tour.
“His (Madison Square) Garden show both reiterated the depth of Seger’s classic catalogue and proved his continued engagement with it,” Jim Farber of the New York Daily News reported. “Seger’s vocals bear mention as well. It’s hugely rare to hear a voice so burly display such humanity.”
“The Silver Bullet Band was muscular and steadfast,” The New York Times Jon Pareles wrote. “Mr. Seger’s music is still the ringing heartland rock he helped establish in the 1970s, rooted in 1960s soul and folkrock, paced to sink in.”
“Bob Seger could’ve just coasted on the familiarity of his dozens of hits Thursday at a packed United Center,” the Chicago Tribune’s Bob Gendron wrote. “Instead, the dependable heartland rock veteran put on a clinic for any fellow artist or music fan wondering what it takes to keep filling arenas and pleasing audiences well into a career that spans six different decades.
“Seger sang every word like he meant it. He backed up the conviction with a contagious energy expressed through body language that announced how much he loves his job.”