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Music Review: Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Nine Tonight

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A couple of years ago I was riding in my son-in-laws car and he popped the Nine Tonight CD into the stereo system. It had been years since I had listened to this album because when I want some live Seger I turn to Live Bullet.

Maybe my tastes have changed or I just unfairly compared it to Live Bullet over the years, but it was much better than I remembered. So much so that it now gets some airplay in my own stereo system.

Bob Seger released Nine Tonight in September of 1981. He was at the height of his commercial success as Night Moves, Stranger In Town, and Against The Wind had sold millions and millions of copies which had made him one of the strongest concert draws in North America. This second live album would sell over five million copies in The United States and Canada and form a retrospective of the “hit” period of his career.

The album was pieced together from a June concert at Cobo Hall in Detroit and an October gig at Boston Garden. I have never been an advocate of this approach as I would rather hear a complete concert including any problems and mistakes. However, it works fairly well here as the material has a authentic feel and flows together well.

Seger does not take many chances, as for the most part the songs are almost exact replications of the studio tracks. On the other hand maybe he is just too good as the music sounds effortless in its presentation. The sense of desperation, that was present on Live Bullet, is gone and has been replaced by an artist who is confident in himself and his music.

This is almost a greatest hits album from the middle period of his career. It includes all of his well known songs from the period as it rotates from rockers to ballads and everything in between.

“Nine Tonight,” which was included on the Urban Cowboy soundtrack, leads off the album with a stinging performance. “Hollywood Nights” and “Old Time Rock & Roll” are presented back to back and form about ten minutes of some of the best straight forward rock ‘n’ roll that you will ever hear. Ballads such as “Mainstreet,” “We’ve Got Tonight,” “Against The Wind,” and “Night Moves” all show him at his lyrical and vocal best.

If you take Live Bullet and Nine Tonight together you will have a nice overview of the first fifteen years of his career. The studio albums are excellent, but live Seger is best. This album remains a nice place to start if you would like to explore the Bob Seger catalogue or to just hear him at his best. 

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