Monday, April 16, 2012

"Live Bullet" by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band (1976)

View the Premise & Ground Rules for Revisiting Vinyl.

Filed between: Scorpions and the soundtrack from "Shenandoah."

My overall rating of the tracks separately: Recommended Listening (3/4 stars)

Double live albums tend to be either completely self-gratifying indulgences or shameless cash grabs.  "Live Bullet" doesn't really feel like either.  This set is the first release credited as Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band, and it came out six months before they broke nationally with the release of the "Night Moves" LP.  Truthfully, "Live Bullet" sounds more like a shedding of old sking than anything; it's all of Bob Seger's greatest hits before he really had any hits.  But it also heralds things to come with radio staples like Katmandu and an almost note-for-note version of the soon-to-be-rerecorded Turn the Page.  Of course, both songs had been around for years, but they hadn't been transformed by the E Street Band Silver Bullet Band treatment yet.

As noted in the ground rules, double LPs don't play by the same rules or have the same "album" criteria, so I'm going to talk about each side of the set separately.


Key Track: Travelin' Man/Beautiful Loser medley
Kicks Off With: Bob yelling, "Hey Detroit!"
This side covers all of the obligatory promotion of the last album.  Every song is from Bob's previous release, "Beautiful Loser."  Nutbush City Limits establishes a great bluesy rock vibe as an opener.  After that, this side is a string of ballads.


Key Track: Bo Diddley/Who Do You Love medley
Kicks Off With: Bob announcing, "We'd like to do a funky thing here."
He's not kidding.  The funk is in full force on Side II.  His take on Van Morrison's I've Been Working fires it up.  The long solo outro is arena rock at its best.  Then, Turn the Page gets jammed in there for no apparent reason, followed by the funky-yet-dull U.M.C.  (How can something be funky-yet-dull?  I dunno.  Go listen to U.M.C. and find out.)  And then it roars to a close with a rockin' Bo Diddley medley that's filtered through horns and keys and a great bassline.


Key Track: Katmandu
Kicks Off With: a backbeat.  Hell, yeah!
The triplet of songs on Side III are bluesy, Stonesesque almost-Southern rock.  This is the close of the regular set before the encore.  These are the songs you talk about after the show.

This is also where the "breakdown" occurs.  If you've been to enough live shows, you've seen what happens in Heavy Music.  It begins with the song descending into a drone of bass and drums, into the lead singer talking about random shit, into the lead singer goosing the crowd into singing a chorus, into a slow tempo uptick, into getting the crowd to repeat the word "yeah," into the gradual introduction of more instruments, intro a crescendo into power chords, into red hot guitar licks, into a call and answer between the vocalist and the lead guitarist, into a moment of absolute silence before the band rips into the next uptempo rocker.  I swear, I have personally experienced that exact sequence from various bands at least a dozen times.  And it never gets old.

Side IV:

Key Track: Get Out of Denver
Kicks Off With: a DJ's holler of "Alllllllll riiiiiiiiight!!!!!"
This is the encore bit.  It starts with a CCR-style of R&B (or maybe a Sam and Dave-style of rock 'n roll) on the opener.  Then, it lights into an insistent twelve-bar shuffle on Get Out of Denver.  Now that's an encore song.  And it closes with more of the same until it literally ends up being a Chuck Berry cover.

So, is it an album?  Yes.  It really does feel like being at a good live show.

Up next, we're back to the country-pop of Alabama with their 1980 release, "My Home's in Alabama."

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