A guy knows what he’s going to get when he buys a Bob Seger record: rock and roll played on a straight four beat. Add in a dash of new country guitar pickin’ and you have a Bob Seger album for the new millennium. It used to be such an album was something to look forward to with eager anticipation, as I fondly recall doing for Like a Rock in the mid-80’s. But Seger’s songwriting has diminished over the years, his ability to find a new, unique, interesting way to play an E-chord exhausted, and what’s left is a collection of familiar sounding songs.
There’s nothing wrong with Ride Out, Seger’s latest album, released this week. If you liked his last number of albums, you’ll like this one well enough. The collection of decent songs, in fact, improve on multiple listens, and the early released songs, Detroit Made, Hey Gypsy and The Devil’s Right Hand after a few weeks of listening are my favorites on the album. The same can’t be said, however, of You Take Me In, the early release balled which was boring on first listen, and boring now that’s it’s heard in the context of a full album.
Seger has a go at politics with It’s Your World, a song in which he decries the state of the world without offering solutions (it is a bit rich, the multi-millionaire singer complaining about cash is king), and if the depth of Your World amounts to the depth of Seger’s politics, it’s a good thing there’s 50-years between here to The Ballad of the Yellow Beret. His attempt at Americana, Adam and Eve, also fails pretty miserably.
Hey Gypsy, on the other hand, Seger’s tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan, is an album highlight. You’ve never heard a Texas shuffle played so squarely, so tightly on the beat, as this, but it works magnificently and will likely be a strong addition to Seger’s live set in his upcoming tour. The acoustic song, Listen, one of the bonus songs on the Deluxe Edition of Ride Out, is another highlight of the album.
There’s a number of good enough songs on Ride Out, but let’s also be clear, there’s no Hollywood Nights or Rock and Roll Never Forgets, no ballads as good as Mainstreet, no acoustic numbers of the calibre of Night Moves or Against the Wind. If your looking for Seger to find that magic touch he had from the mid-70’s to the mid-80’s you’ll be disappointed. But if your looking for Seger to meet or exceed what he has done the last couple of albums, he has.
The Devils Right Hand
Adam and Eve
It’s Your World
All of the Roads
You Take Me In
Gates of Eden
Listen (Deluxe Edition only)*
The Fireman’s Talkin’ (Deluxe Edition only)*
Let the Rivers Run (Deluxe Edition only)*
*(Note: There is a Target only CD version with 2 extra songs)