Bob Seger's "Night Moves"________ Back to Recording Notes
 
Like many of the records that have been profiled in “Classic Tracks” before it, “Night Moves” was largely spontaneous—the result of the last-minute need for one more song while fate or the A&R department is breathing down the artists’ necks—and it nearly didn’t happen at all, with luck and circumstance having as much influence as talent and persistence. Seger’s own career up to this point had mirrored that situation. He had given up on music at least once before, after stunted attempts with such bands as the Beach Bums and Doug Brown & The Omens on the college-heavy Detroit/Ann Arbor circuit in the 1960s. There had been a couple of minor successes for Seger on the local Cameo label, and his first solo band, the Bob Seger System, was signed to Capitol Records briefly. Still, that wasn’t enough to keep Seger from throwing in the towel in 1969 to attend college.

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But Seger couldn’t stay away. After restarting his career in 1971 and assembling the Silver Bullet Band, a live double-album, recorded in Detroit, coupled with three years of relentless touring, gave him a new launch pad. Capitol Records was again interested, based on the success of the Live Bullet album, but wanted to hear what Seger’s studio efforts would produce.

Jack Richardson was a Toronto native whose career had interesting parallels to Seger’s; he, too, pursued a career as a musician in his youth, only to move into advertising in his thirties to support a family. He took a flyer on a Canadian rock band called the Guess Who, mortgaging his house to pay for their first major label record, which he produced. With hits like “These Eyes” and “American Woman” under his belt—records by a Canadian band, which, ironically, presaged the Americana music movement that Seger would champion—Richardson quickly attracted other production clients, including Poco, Alice Cooper and Manowar. In early 1976, Richardson was approached by Eddie “Punch” Andrews, Seger’s manager and former bandmate in the Detroit trio The Decibels, about producing four sides for his client. Richardson thought the talks had been vague; Andrews apparently felt otherwise. “I came home from off a long date in L.A., and my wife says to me, ‘Punch called and says you’re supposed to be in Memphis with him and Bob Seger,’” Richardson recalls. “I said, no way, not on that short notice. So we talked again, and again it seemed to go nowhere. On four occasions, I was booked to meet with [Seger], and each time it got put off, once when I was already at the airport. Then I get a call one day telling me they’re coming to Toronto. That wasn’t the way I liked to do things. But I went ahead and called [engineer] Brian Christian, who had worked with me on the Guess Who and other records, to come in from L.A.”

Seger and Richardson met at Soundstage, the producer’s studio within the production complex Nimbus 9 that Richardson and three former advertising business colleagues had formed in the late 1960s in Toronto to pursue music and commercial projects. Seger and Richardson sat in his office, and the artist played a couple of songs that Richardson recalls as being “not that great, quite honestly. Then I suggested that we also do the old Supremes song ‘My World Is Empty Without You, Babe.’ So that was three songs. And Bob had been noodling around on the piano in my office, and I told him I thought he had the makings of a good song there, though he didn’t feel the same way at the time.”

The sessions were scheduled for three days, with members of the Silver Bullet Band having flown in, and the first three songs went down quickly, though without much passion. In fact, finding the fourth song had become such an apparent lost cause that Richardson sent the band’s guitar and keyboard players back to Detroit.

As it turned out, however, Seger’s noodling had evolved into a song, and with Richardson’s prompting, he and Seger cobbled an arrangement to it in the studio, where the remaining musicians—including Silver Bullet drummer Charlie Allen Martin and bassist Chris Campbell—had been quickly complemented with two last-minute local players, Doug Riley on organ and Joe Miquelon on electric guitar.




Reprinted with permission from Magazine, April, 2001
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