If there is any grace in heaven, Night Moves will give Bob Seger the national following which has long eluded him. It is simply one of the best albums of the year. As a vocalist, Seger recalls Rod Stewart; his raspy voice can both soar and attack. As a composer, he echoes Bruce Springsteen in his painful attempts to memorialize his past.
Night Moves offers rock & roll in the classic mold: bold, aggressive and grandiloquent. Seger's Silver Bullet Band and the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section share the backup credit and provide support of almost operatic intensity. The arrangements use traditional devices: on the title tune, for example, tempo and volume continually shift to create climax upon climax; in "Mainstreet," a single guitar rings out the drama through the repetition of spare lines.
Seger is a romantic in search of an adolescent conception of love which has always eluded him. He can laugh at his condition ("Sunspot Baby") or try to exorcise it (his reworking of "Mary Lou"), but most of the time he rubs at it like an old wound ("Night Moves" and "Mainstreet"). All of these are songs of reminiscence, for Seger, above all, is a survivor.
If there is a flaw in the album, it is that the production is not aggressive enough. Occasionally the horns are too muted, the drums too hesitant. But these errors, like Seger's penchant for self-conscious poeticizing ("Sunburst"), are minor in an album bursting with energy and conviction. (RS 230)
(Posted: Jun 17, 1997)