It’s A Mystery was released October 24, 1995 and proved to be the least popular Bob Seger album since Seven (1974). While it would sell close to a million copies in The United States and Canada, his Greatest Hits album which was released just the year before would sell close to 11 million. It was proof that the public preferred his older material to what he was currently producing.
The real mystery is how could he go four years between studio albums and only come up with this mostly mundane group of songs. In fairness the music is not terrible, but fairly or unfairly his post The Distance work would always be compared to that of his classic period when he produced such works of art as Against The Wind, Stranger In Town, and Night Moves. In some ways this music, while pleasant, is just not interesting. His sense of melody remains intact but the lyrics are for the most part strained. His desire to be current with political views and comments on the state of the world are far from the popularity and appeal of his blue collar rock roots which served him so well in the past.
He does try and “Rite Of Passage” and the title song both rock hard. Seger’s voice may have lost a little power over the years but it is still unique and good enough to fuel his music. “Lock and Load” and “Hands In The Air” are the best of the lot and interestingly both are co-written with Craig Frost and Tom Mitchell rather than being solo compositions.
“Revisionism Street” at least has a little bite as he takes on the entertainment industry but beyond that there is not much there. Even his cover of a Tom Waits song, “16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought Six,” who had provided interesting cover material in the past, rings hollow.
He took four years to produce the album so it was not time that was the issue. Maybe he was tired or his mind was elsewhere but the music has an unfinished feel to it. It’s A Mystery is ultimately forgettable. I would have hoped for more from an artist of Bob Seger’s stature and talent. Why I didn’t get it on this release is indeed a mystery.