Friday, August 20, 2010

Battle of the Bobs: Seger Does Dylan

My brother and I have a small obsession with Bob Seger. More specifically, with the track "Night Moves", a phrase tatooed on at least one Portland, Oregon bartender, whom we were naturally forced to nickname Night Moves. When or why Night Moves got his ink is unknown, but I imagine there's a pretty kickass and utterly rock-n'roll explanation behind it. I am guessing that Michigan is somehow involved. For us, growing up in Ohio in the 80s, Seger (not to mention his heartland demographic peers John Cougar, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Money, and the hapless Michael Stanley) was a huge presence on the radio, the Voice of the Rust Belt, always ready with a wistful mid-tempo stroll down memory lane. Unfortunately, the midtempo Seger eclipsed the younger, Detroit rock city Seger of rock'n'roll lore. Before he was crooning "Main Street", "Still The Same", "Like A Rock", or "Against The Wind", Bob Seger was a fiery rock'n'roller, a peer of Detroit legends like the MC5 and the Amboy Dukes. His mid-to-late 70s rock songs ("Katmandu", "Rock And Roll Never Forgets", "Hollywood Nights", the cranky "Old Time Rock And Roll") always seemed strained to me. A famous bootleg called Michigan Nuggets sets the record straight, featuring several of Seger's hard-to-find late 60s shredders. Here's "Persecution Smith", a 1966 single by Bob Seger & The Last Heard. It's a pretty blatant ripoff, both sonically and lyrically, of Bringing It All Back Home/Highway 61 Revisited-era Dylan, but it rocks hard (especially the guitar), and serves as a dose of real old time rock'n'roll.

Bob Seger & The Last Heard, "Persecution Smith":

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