The Seger File An unofficial web site about the music of Bob Seger Last updated February 2000 Edited by Scott Sparling firstname.lastname@example.org
- September 1969
- The Bob Seger System
- Seger, Tom Neme, Honaker, Perrine and Schultz
Noah did not make the Top 200 Billboard album chart.
The Neme Era
Noah introduces a ludicrous twist by featuring someone named Tom Neme as a singer/songwriter. To be fair, Neme isn't half bad as a role player, but he's a far, far cry from Seger. One man (Seger) is destined for greatness, and you can hear it in every syllable; Neme is just taking up vinyl. Worse, most of the songs are written by Neme.
Where did Neme come from? Why is he there? The story has never really been explained, as far as I know, though Seger has said that Neme was hired as a musician when Seger decided he couldn't sing and play guitar at the same time.
Seger: "...we got this guitar player named Tom Neme. And then Neme came up with all these songs that he wanted to do. At that point, I was really tired. I wanted to quit. That was when I enrolled in college....
"I didn't have anything to do with that album. 'Noah,' the song, and one or two others, I wrote, a lot of it during that long break between albums." Dave Marsh, May 1972, Creem. "Doncha Ever Listen to the Radio...How to Remain Obscure through Better Rock 'n' Roll: Bob Seger, Best in the Midwest." [What long break? It was five months between albums back then. These days it takes five years.]
Joanne Zangrilli in the November 1990 Goldmine wrote that Neme bulldozed his way into band leader, taking advantage of Seger's "lack of forceful direction."
Okay -- if Seger was laying back, letting Neme and the rest of the band do their thing, where was Punch during all this? And Capitol? Did they think it was gonna work? Did they imagine they had some kind of Lennon/McCartney thing going with Seger and Neme? (Coincidentally, one of Neme's tunes is preceded by the engineer saying "Sgt. Pepper, take 6," a contrived effect more reminiscent of the Monkeys -- "What take is this?" "Seven A" -- than the Beatles.) More to the point, why would anyone sit still for a Seger album where another vocalist takes the mic -- unless they simply had no choice?
Seger quit briefly after the album came out, then returned to the band and fired Neme. Which leads to the final Neme question -- where is he now?
The Tom Neme Saga, Part 5
Yes, Part 5. In other words, this is the second part of part two of a two-part trilogy. The other five parts (let's see, that would be Parts 1-4, and Part 6) have yet to be written, and probably never will be. Unless the guy who wrote the following letter writes me back:Hi Scott,
Well lemme dust off this one. I met Tom back in 1987. I was 16 years old, looking for a job. Just a kid from the streets of Detroit.
My dad got me a gig working for this band called " The Peoples Choice." Yeah, you guessed it, a wedding band. Until I came across your site I thought I was the only one in the free-speaking world who knew about the Noah album. I have never even seen a copy of this mysterious record.
I met Tom while working for this band setting up their crap. God, I hated that job. Tom was the coolest outta of them all, he always tolerated my barrage of questions about his Gibson Melody Maker. "A beautiful cherry-colored guitar." The rest of the band gave me a headache.
Tom was a middle-aged man who was a fanatic about keeping his body healthy. One night in between sets I was sitting next to Tom while we ate some of the wedding food. I can't remember how we got on the subject, but we started talking about Bob Seger. Oh, that's right -- he asked me what I liked listening to. So I told him, I love to listen to Bob Seger and how Night Moves was the very first album I ever owned.
Tom looked at me and said "I used to play with Seger." I told him he was fulla shit. Tom looked at me very seriously and said, "No really, I even made a record with him." Now that he had my undivided attention, I asked him if he still knew Bob Seger; he said yes but they really don't get along.
Knowing my hopes of meeting Bob were shot to hell, I still asked him questions. Tom told me he made a record with Bob. He said the record was called Noah but it never really sold anywhere. I quizzed Tom more and asked how in the world did he land that gig. He said Punch Andrews brought them together, but never really told me how or why. I just remember Tom stating that Bob at the time was always very moody and had these major mood swings. From what I gathered, from what Tom was telling me, he wasn't there to take over the throne, he was just filling a void because of Bob's episodes. He cut the one record and that was it.
...Yes, Tom does have a nice voice, but he was a real keep-to-himself, quiet kinda fellow. All in all, a very nice guy, though...You can post what I tell you, I don't mind. Here where I live, everybody knows someone in some way, shape or form :)
The great cover photo of Seger, presumably taken in an alley in Ann Arbor, is a precursor to the Night Moves album cover.
The liner notes try to explain the appearance of Neme the Usurper: "THE BOB SEGER SYSTEM -- FIVE! The first album was trio, this album is more in many respects. It's more sound, it's more guts, it's more soul and it's more conflict..."
Right. And less Seger. The Bob Seger System without Seger, of course, is pointless -- but some copywriter at Capitol was trying hard. The liner notes continue: "Conflict between two very different types of music. Side 1 is Bob Seger -- moody, dynamic, human." [Stop the presses: Seger is human! Where would we be without liner notes to clarify that important point. Hmm, does this mean Neme isn't human?] "Side 2 is influenced by Tom Neme, a new and important addition to The System. It is this influence that is creating change. Seger will always be Bob Seger, any change must come from The System and Tom Neme."
I suppose it's pointless to ask questions of a long gone copywriter...but why oh why would we want change after such a dynamite first album?
The album contains four songs with a Seger writing credit: "Noah" (with the memorable and late-'60s-era phrase "re-synthesize your own ego") and "Death Row," both of which Seger wrote alone, along with "Innervenus Eyes" and "Cat," credited to Seger, Honaker and Perrine.
"Innervenus" is an absolute killer rocker with terrific Seger vocals. "Death Row" is also a powerful rocker. Since it was the flip of "2+2=?," it may have been a holdover from the first album. It certainly seems to have a different production quality.
Neme's "Lonely Man" is also classic, for one reason: Seger does the vocals. The same is not true, however, on other Neme cuts, such as "Jumpin' Humpin' Hip Hypocrite" -- it's just ridiculous to hear Seger doing the back-up vocals on this.
"Cat" is a long (6:20) jumbled, overdubbed rap with drums and studio effects, centered around the singer's attempt to pick up a clueless hippie girl named Cat. The words -- you can't call them lyrics -- could have been improvised during the recording session; the delivery goes from ultra cool and hip to embarrassing mock-orgasmic grunts. There is no music, just a dense beat. A future update of this page may feature a mercifully short excerpt.
Seger: "'Noah' is about...'Lay back, you've had your fun. Let them do it for a while.' That's what the album's about, too. How they blew it." Dave Marsh, May 1972, Creem. "Doncha Ever Listen to the Radio...How to Remain Obscure through Better Rock 'n' Roll: Bob Seger, Best in the Midwest."
And is that Bob Schultz with what sounds to me like an alto sax on Noah? Whatever, it's an interesting and rare precursor to the Alto Reed; early Seger almost never featured horns.
Below is the promo copy from a Capitol Sampler released about the time of Noah, called The New Spirit of Capitol. Thanks to Jefferey Taylor from the St. Louis Community College in Kirkwood, MO for sending it in.
Noah, the album, is currently not available in any format, except in used record stores. About a month ago, I walked into Django Records in Portland and discovered a copy sitting innocently in the Seger bin. I bought it for eight bucks. Yours will cost you $50 to $150 if the seller has any idea what he's selling.
- RGMMain MenuMongrel
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