Tag Archives: Bob Seger

To a Musician Not Dying Young

Recently I was with a few people from southern California who had come to musical maturity in the ‘70s. I learned that there is a robust “tribute” or “cover” band scene there. One of the women I was with had been a backup singer in a Segar tribute band. It seems, she explained, that many of the people in these bands are unsuccessful in getting their own music to break and so they perform—or could that be “pretend”—as others.

So there are bands like the Dark Star Orchestra, the Australian Pink Floyd Show, The Fab Four, Nervana, and multitudes more.

In many cases it is not enough to have a note-for-note rendition of the original band in question, but some of these tribute bands cover themselves in the clothing and the hairstyle of the individual musicians making up the bands in question.

(Of course, the Iron Maidens have a look that doesn’t duplicate the original for obvious reasons.)

We will not see the Beatles again. Not Pink Floyd or Nirvana. And while the situation with the Dead is uncertain, Jerry’s not going to be on stage.

And the music created by the originals is often so good that it exists independently of the people who made it in the first case, so it could be the case that there are several people who go to the clubs who have no idea of what’s being covered and when they leave they go home and download “Katmandu.”

Which is certainly a good thing for all concerned, be it the tribute band, the listener or, in this case, Seger.

But there was a comment that one of the people made that struck me as being odd and in some ways unsettling, a comment that was agreed to by the others in attendance: “Well, we can’t see the originals any more so this is just as good.”

Is it? Really?

Without going all Walter Benjamin and “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical [Digital] Reproduction,” doesn’t authenticity matter?

Continue reading To a Musician Not Dying Young

Goose Lake International Music Festival Documentary

We grew up hearing snippets of the stories: first joints, flying tents, incorrect memories of the acts who played, and even a fabled master recording from the sound board secreted away in a friend’s basement (recently rediscovered). The event was more legend than an established piece of Michigan history, but staged almost exactly one year after Woodstock, the Goose Lake International Music Festival did indeed happen and it was glorious.

Annoying music bed and even more annoying local commercials aside, this 30 minute documentary has an oral history from organizers and attendees with fantastic archival footage of Michigan’s entrant into the 60s and 70s music festival culture.

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Holy Shit! See the Greatest Rock and Roll Photo Come to Life!

Five years ago we discovered the Greatest Rock and Roll Photo Ever and came up with 101 reasons why it was so great. I’ve stared at that photo for hours since then and dreamed of being at that show, sweating in an off-season ski lodge, sipping sodas with teenagers, rocking out to the System!

Well, video footage from that Mount Holly show still has not surfaced, but we’ve got the next best thing. Footage from the same era (bassist Dan Honaker is even wearing the same shirt!) has been posted to YouTube. Three songs from Barry Richards’ “Turn-On” TV show bring our beloved photo to life. It’s so cool to see young Seger tearing it up. And his band was something else. Drummer Pep Perrine (once again sporting his dog collar!) looks like Iggy Pop. Detroit!

Bob Seger System – “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” (live in 1970)

Bob Seger System "Ramblin Gamblin Man" Live "Turn-On" 1970

Continue reading Holy Shit! See the Greatest Rock and Roll Photo Come to Life!

Teegarden & Van Winkle Live on Detroit TV

Way back when we first kicked off this whole shit show I posted an article on my recent record buying finds, including a pick-up of an album for which I knew some personal, detailed history but had never actually heard or seen. One of my longest-running musical collaborator’s father had engineered this album (among many others in the late 60s Detroit scene) and he’d told us stories about his adventures with the jazz-rock duo Teegarden & Van Winkle.

Jim Cassily was always good for a story and his eyes would gleam with more than a hint of mischief when he told these particular tales. He loved that his son was in a band as well and clearly revelled in sharing his own exploits as a musician and engineer. Whether it was the early days with Bob Seger or his later life discovery of Irish folk musicians, Cassily was an enthusiast. None of those stories quite got the excited treatment of his days with friends Dave Teegarden and Skip Van Winkle though. To hear him tell it, we had missed the Detroit equivalent of Traffic. Finding that record in 2001 confirmed the musical prowess he credited to the band and now this video clip bolsters his claims that these guys would get “out there.”

Dig this awesome clip of pure Detroit freak-out, live on TV.

VIDEO: Teegarden & Van Winkle Live on Detroit TV

*Note: That dapper man with the ascot (or whatever that is around his neck) is Jim himself, running sound and feeling groovy.

101 Reasons This Is the Greatest Rock and Roll Photo Ever

©1970 & 2009 Pat Appleson Studios, Inc. - www.appleson.com   All Rights Reserved, Used by Permission

©1970 & 2009 Pat Appleson Studios, Inc. – www.appleson.com All Rights Reserved, Used by Permission

1. The bass player’s mustache.

2. The drum set-up: six (count ’em!) kick drums.

3. Seger’s pants.

4. The fact that Seger’s guitar strap matches those pants.

5. The absolutely blissed out look on the drummer’s face.

6. Are they playing on the top floor of a barn?

7. The custom paint job on Seeg’s guitar. That’s the same guitar he played when he looked like this.

8. Drummer’s wearing a dog collar.

9. That sheet covering the piano (or is it the PA?) has little pink flowers on it.

10. Seger’s brown wifebeater.

11. Seriously, look at that drum concoction over the drummer’s head. Have you ever seen anything like that? Even Tommy Lee never dreamed up anything as insane as that.

Continue reading 101 Reasons This Is the Greatest Rock and Roll Photo Ever

Louder Than Love: The Grande Ballroom Story

Video: Louder Than Love – The Grande Ballroom Story

This looks awesome. I love that the trailer uses the Bob Seger System‘s “Heavy Music.” De-fucking-troit!

The filmmakers’ Facebook page claims a release date of Summer 2010, but they also say they “have more scheduled interviews in early 2010,” so we’ll see. Let’s hope this one has better luck than the ill-fated MC5 documentary, A True Testimonial.

Check out flickr’s collection of recent rotted interior shots. It’s way beyond repair. Sad.

Early Seger: Misleading Title, Wasted Opportunity

My eyes widened and my jaw actually dropped a little when I saw the headline: Bob Seger Raids Vaults For ‘Early Seger’ Set. Finally, I thought, the Seger System stuff is going to be released on CD. Maybe even the Last Heard singles?

Nope.

It’s a ten song set with five songs remastered from the original tapes of his 1972-73 albums Smokin’ O.P.’s, Back in ’72, and Seven. This is good stuff, for sure (listen), but it’s not really “early Seger” by anybody’s definition. At least not anybody from Michigan. To make matters worse, the rest of the stuff was written during the ’80s and then “enhanced…with fresh vocals, horns and/or other new instrumentation recorded during September at Kid Rock’s studio in suburban Detroit.”

Something calling itself “Early Seger” should contain at least some stuff from the sixties, and absolutely nothing from the 80s. And you can’t call it “Early Seger” if Kid Rock worked on it! Come on now. Well, at least we’ve got YouTube…

Continue reading Early Seger: Misleading Title, Wasted Opportunity

LIKE A ROCK, SORT OF

Despite his flair for Camaro-Rock, Bob Seger is still important to the legacy of Detroit music. Ever seen pictures of him from back in the Bob Seger System days? Long hair snaking down his back, Lucky Strike dangling from his sneering lips, Seger was definitely a nails-for-breakfast Detroit rocker. Smokin O.P.’s, his 1972 release, even cops the Lucky Strike logo for its cover art. Sure, he chopped the locks in favor of an Eddie Money-style layer job. (Which could be a Samson-esque metaphor for his music pussy-ing out…). And he can never be forgiven for tripe like “Mainstreet” or “Shakedown.” But forever-shirtless Iggy Pop looks more like The Oldest Chili Pepper these days; and Alice Cooper does indeed play a lot of golf (“I’m Eighteen” holes?). So Seger’s in good company when he disses his D-Town Rock and Roll roots.

But back in the day (1968), there was the Bob Seger System, rocking out the bars and VFW halls in the Detroit/Ann Arbor circuit. The System released an album, “Ramblin’ Gamblin Man,” and the title track built a nationwide following after solid Michigan-area support. Its opening half-time drum beat gives way to a funky Hammond B3, which builds the shambling melody of a song about a rambling and gambling fellow. Not ground-breaking lyrics, but I bet if you saw Seger and his long hair screaming them out in a dingy backroom Detroit bar, you’d have thrown your hands in the air. The track possesses a great mix of Detroit-style, messy rock with a funky organ that wouldn’t be out of place on a hard-edged soul album. Which, coming out of Motown, isn’t exactly surprising.

It’s odd how success will make a band trade in its best components for the shiny new model. After achieving widespread acclaim for the “Live Bullet” and “Night Moves” LPs, Seger and his Silver Bullet Band collective went on to record the poor-man’s Springsteen rockers that are featured prominently on today’s classic rock radio. Much of the grit of his early work was lost forever, only clawing its way back into the music briefly, like in the vaguely disconcerting herky-jerky backbeat of “Hollywood Nights.” Sure, “Night Moves” and “Like a Rock” are nice enough songs. But they’re about as Detroit as a Le Car.

But Seger’s later work as a professional pansy shouldn’t diminish his early, rip-roaring days. Even though he is a member of classic rock radio’s glitterati, a great song like “Ramblin’ Man” is rarely played, letting it keep its vitality. And in that song’s scorching, gospel-funk chorus, Seger puts the hood up and shows off his Detroit rock engine, even if he’s since downgraded to something a lot cheaper and less balls-y. But that’s okay, Bob: Rock and Roll (and D-Town) never forgets. Which in your case, can be a good OR a bad thing.

JTL