Bob Seger returned in December of 1982 with his first studio album in almost three years. While The Distance would be the beginning of his commercial downturn it would be on a creative par with his best work.
The Distance would be the last truly consistent album of his career. The time between studio releases would increase and the quality of the material would vary from excellent to average. Here, however, he would continue in the vein of Against The Wind and Stranger In Town, as it would contain energetic blue collar rock ‘n’ roll and sensitive ballads.
The album thunders out of the gate with two high octane rock tunes. “Even Now” is equal to anything that he had produced in the past and “Makin’ Thunderbirds” is just a cut below. His ability to create a memorable melody would always be his strength and both songs were both catchy yet powerful. They would be the appetizer for a lot of the good music that would follow.
“Roll Me Away” is probably the strongest song on the album. It tells a story and contains wonderful lyrics that would have fit one of his classic ballads. What makes the song unique and memorable is that he surrounds these lyrics with a beat. This song of searching and keeping at it remains a staple of his live show over a quarter of a century after its release.
“Shame On The Moon” would become a huge single and be the song most associated with the album at the time of its release. Written by Rodney Crowell, it was the only non-original tune on the album. It had a country flavor to it and featured smooth harmonies and great piano lines. It would become one of his biggest hits, reaching number two on the National charts.
Several other songs of note help to make the album memorable. “Love’s The Last To Know” is one of his poignant ballads. “House Behind A House” contains wonderful imagery and is a fine example of how he could make his ideas come alive through the use of words. The album closer, “Little Victories,” is a fitting finale as it deals with the hopes and triumphs of everyday life.
27 years after its release, The Distance sometimes gets lost in Seger’s vast catalog. It certainly measures up to his best work and is a perfect companion while driving in your car or just relaxing with the head phones on.