Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The #28 Album of All-Time in the Rock Era--"Night Moves" by Bob Seger

We've counted down to the #28 album, and it's one of three that Bob Seger places in The Top 100 Albums*.

It's probably fitting that this the highest of the three Seger albums, because it is the one that finally made him a star.  Seger had a loyal following, to be sure, before this album but the public at large wasn't all that familiar with him.  Night Moves was the ninth album, in fact; he had toiled for years with a regional Midwest following.  That all changed with this album.  The success was due to a combination of things--the Silver Bullet Band debuted on this album, which gave him a solid, talented and consistent backup band.  The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section also contributed greatly to the album's success.  Seger's songwriting became much, much better on the album and the record company, Capitol Records, began promoting him more.

Night Moves reached #8 and spent 88 weeks on the album chart.  To date, it has sold six million copies and has one of the highest Track Ratings*--9.39 of the Top 100.  That consistency of the albums and the tremendous airplay received by three singles and several other tracks from the album are its greatest strengths.  "Night Moves" was the song that got it all going on this album--it was a huge hit and, with the increasing fragmentation of radio beginning in the late-70's, it was a song that could be played on popular stations, on the growth format of Adult Contemporary and on album rock stations.  So it was an across-the-board winner.  "Mainstreet" showed that Seger could also do a ballad while "Rock and Roll Never Forgets" is raw rock & roll. 

 To say that the album is consistent is to be expected; an album can't get this high without it.  There isn't an average track on the album; "Ship of Fools" could be classified as "very good" if you're being a tough grader, but everything else is outstanding.  "The Fire Down Below" wasn't a single, but if a radio station wasn't playing it, they couldn't really call themselves a rock station.  "Sunspot Baby" and "Sunburst" are excellent tracks and "Come to Poppa" and "Mary Lou", both written by other artists, are great rockers as well.

Night Moves:
(all songs by Bob Seger unless otherwise noted.)

Side one
1.  "Rock and Roll Never Forgets" --3:52
2.  "Night Moves" --5:25
3.  "The Fire Down Below" -4:28
4.  "Sunburst" --5:13

Side two
1.  "Sunspot Baby" --4:38
2.  "Mainstreet" --3:43
3.  "Come to Poppa" (Earl Randle, Willie Mitchell) --3:11
4.  "Ship of Fools" --3:24
5.  "Mary Lou" (Young Jessie, Sam Ling) --2:56

Bob Seger played guitar on the album.  As mentioned above, the Silver Bullet Band was brought in beginning with Night Moves--they are guitarist Drew Abbott, Robyn Robbins on piano and organ, Alto Reed on tenor, alto and baritone sax and flute, bassist Chris Campbell and drummer Charlie Allen Martin, who also plays tambourine and maracas on the album.  All of the members of the group helped with vocals except Robins and Reed.  The Muscle Shoals group was:  Pete Carr on lead, rhythm and acoustical guitar, Jimmy Johnson played rhythm guitar, Barry Beckett played piano, organ, ARP synthesizer, clavinet and melodica, bassist David Hood and Roger Hawkins (drums, tambourine, maracas, congas, tympani drums).

Drew Abbott (guitar) and Jerry Luck (accordion) both assisted on "Ship of Fools) while guitarist Joe Miquelon, Doug Riley (piano and organ) and backing vocalists Sharon Dee Williams, Rhonda Silver and Laurel Ward lend their talents on the title track.

Night Moves was recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Pampa Sound Studios in Detroit, Michigan and Nimbus Nine Studios in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  Punch Andrews, Seger, the Muscle Shoals Horns and Jack Richardson teamed to produce the album, the Engineers were Jim Bruzzese (who also did the mixing), Brian Christian, Jerry Masters, Steve Melton and Greg Miller.  Wally Traugott mastered the album and Tom Bert handled photography.  The album was released October 22, 1976 on Capitol Records.

Night Moves places at #28 All-Time for Bob Seger.

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