Released: October 1976
Chart Peak: #8
Weeks Charted: 88
Certified Platinum: 3/25/77
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 repitition of spare lines.
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.
- Kit Rachlis, Rolling Stone, 1-13-77.
Despite the rock media's strenuous assurances that Bob Seger, a Detroit hero, is exactly what national audiences should have been looking for all their lives, and that rock can't get along without him (just as the media can't survive without telling us such things), Seger is probably no more than a hard-working, better-than-average singer who occasionally surpasses himself.
His cougar-scream vocals and phrasing owe quite a lot to the black Motown influence. No Detroit white singer has ever escaped the harping, aggressive peculiarities of the style, especially as portrayed by Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops and by Edwin Starr. But there are other influences. In the title tune, which owes its narrative plot and musical construction to Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl," Seger phrases like the glorious Otis Redding, the Georgia genius. "The Fire Down Below" is in the manner of "Who's Makin' Love" and "Take Care of Your Homework," both hits for Johnny Taylor of the Memphis-based Stax label in the late Sixties (Taylor was a subtler screamer than Stubbs, but harder than Redding), and the Silver Bullet Band plays in the two-fisted, slinky, air-tight "Brown Sugar" style of the Rolling Stones.
The other cuts on the album prove that Seger is a highly professional and experienced entertainer who enjoys his work and his thoroughly absorbed his influences with punch and bravado. He is not an original by any means, but he is solid and dependable. His previous album, a live recording of a Detroit concert where he was preaching to the already converted, was a noisy and flabby thing, but he seems to do better in the disciplined confines of the recording studio. It's not a world beater, but for what it is, and for who he is, this is a very good album.
- Joel Vance, Stereo Review, 3/77.
Detroit's favorite native son rocker has another tasty set of rock'n'roll with an extra bonus of two change-of-pace ballads thrown in. Seger is a tasteful and impressive guitar flash whose singing has improved markedly in fluency and expressiveness. His songwriting also provides no shortage of vehicles for effective rocking. Seger is really as good in this genre as anybody else around today. Best cuts: "Night Moves," "Mainstreet," "Rock 'N' Roll Never Forgets," "Sunspot Baby," "Mary Lou."
- Billboard, 1976.
I've never had much truck with Seger's myth -- he's always struck me as a worn if well-schooled rock and roll journeyman, good for one or two tracks a year. But this album is a journeyman's apotheosis. The riffs that identify each of these nine songs comprise a working lexicon of the Berry-Stones tradition, and you've heard them many times before; in fact, that may be the point, because Seger and his musicians reanimate every one with their persistence and conviction. Both virtues also come across in lyrics as hard-hitting as melodies, every one of which asserts the continuing functionality of rock and roll for "sweet sixteens turned thirty-one." In one of them, the singer even has his American Express card stolen by a descendant of Ronnie Hawkins's Mary Lou, if not Mary Lou herself. Worrying about your credit card rating -- now that's what I call rock and roll realism. A-
There's nothing new here, just the best of the Fifties and Sixties rock & roll and soul music restated with honest currency and sung by one of rock's best voices. The years of dues behind Night Moves cling to it like grime on flesh. Dave Marsh described it best: "That wonderful chronicle of moments when age becomes irrelevant and innocence gains experience." There really isn't a bad cut on the album. The CD's sound is a joy, not perfect, but a joy -- bright, full, detailed, clean, and very dynamic (it does have some compression and occasional distortion in the vocals). A+
- Bill Shapiro, Rock & Roll Review: A Guide to Good Rock on CD, 1991.
Bob Seger's breakthrough album, a classic of blue-collar rock, features such standouts as the wistful "Mainstreet," the no-frills rock of "Rock and Roll Never Forgets," and the title track, a reflective coming-of-age masterpiece. Throughout, Seger believably details the characters in his songs with compassion. * * * * *
- Rick Clark, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
Night Moves is a masterful collection of songs that retains the energy of Seger's Live Bullet -- particularly on the ferocious rockers "The Fire Down Below," "Sunspot Baby" and "Rock and Roll Never Forgets." * * * * *
- Gary Graff, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
Seger arrives, armed with blue-collar Motor City rock at its best on this heartland classic, featuring the title hit plus lesser-known gems rife with bittersweet nostalgia. A hometown boy who knows how to rev up on a crowd and much more than the guy on the Chevy ads, he's a voice of rare grit and a supreme songwriter you suspect has been listening to your thoughts. * * * * *
- Zagat Survey Music Guide - 1,000 Top Albums of All Time, 2003.
Until Night Moves Bob Seger was one of rock music's greatest under-achievers, an artist with a growing live reputation -- having made an impression with his Live Bullet live album -- but never seemingly to move above cult status.
However, the release of Night Moves, and the title track in particular, dramatically turned around the fortunes of the Detroit-born musician who found himself thrust into a "blue collar" rock market already occupied by one of Night Moves' most important influences, Bruce Springsteen.
The album, which featured the Silver Bullet Band on one side and the Muscles Shoals Rhythm Section on the other, was the result of Seger's manager Eddie "Punch" Andrews hooking him up with Toronto-based producer Jack Richardson. The title track was the last for Bob Seger, emerging so late during the album's recording that two of his band had already been sent home when it was cut in a 2:30 am session. Inspired by the movie American Graffiti, the result was a coming-of-age classic that set the blueprint for the rest of his career. It returned Seger to the US Top 40 for the first time in eight years, peaking at four on the Hot 100 in early 1977, while the album reached Number Eight.
As of 2004, Night Moves was the #31 best-selling album of the 70s.
- Hamish Champ, The 100 Best-Selling Albums of the 70s, 2004.
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