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Music Review: Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Live Bullet [Remastered]

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Often considered the album that finally got Bob Seger and his band long-overdue acclaim beyond Detroit and the state of Michigan, Live Bullet has been released in a remastered version by Capitol and is available through iTunes. The reissue marks the kickoff of the  66-year-old singer and the Silver Bullet Band’s second leg of their current North American tour. Originally recorded in Detroit’s Cobo Hall in September 1975 and released the next year, the band rocked out on a mix of originals, some of which went on to become rock classics.  Other selections included covers of icons like Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, all 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 LP Night Moves, made Seger and the Silver Bullet Band a household name.

The concert included a quintet of live versions of songs from 1975’s Beautiful Losers, including the popular title track, a high-powered and rollicking “Katmandu,” and a driving, dramatic “Travelin’ Man.”  The first two were destined for greatest hits compilations, and the other should have been. Also from that album came the lesser known “Jody Girl” and a cover of Tina Turner’s “Nutbush City Limits.” From his Back in ’72 album comes another Seger standard, the classic “band on the road” epic, “Turn the Page,” along with a funky version of Van Morrison’s “I’ve Been Working.” From ’72’s Smokin’ O.P.’s, the band expanded Berry’s “Let It Rock” into an audience-pleasing, eight- minute-plus medley which closed the concert in 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 debut album.

Added as a bonus track to this reissue is a live, down-and-dirty blues version of “I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home,” which had been recorded at the Pontiac Silver Dome in 1976. The song has been recorded by the likes of soul singer Ann Peebles and mellow voiced blues man Albert King, but it seems tailored for the grittier-voiced Seger. It deserves more attention and makes for a welcome addition to what is already a nicely varied setlist.

Not all concerts deliver the goods for a successful live album. Sometimes the band is busy trying to promote unfamiliar new material that disappoints the audience. Sometimes they just seem to be phoning it in. Sometimes they seem to be playing solely for themselves and the audience be damned. But when the band is on its game, when the audience tunes in, when the music is memorable… When all these planets align, magic happens. Live Bullet was magic when it first came out; Live Bullet is magic today.

 

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About Jack Goodstein