The Seger File

An unofficial web site about the music of Bob Seger Last updated October 2000 Edited by Scott Sparling sparling@segerfile.com


Seven

March 1974
Bob Seger (vocals, guitar)
Drew Abbott (guitar)
Rick Manasa (organ, piano)
Chris Campbell (bass)
Charlie Martin (drums).
 
Additional personnel: Bill Mueller, Charlie McCoy, Jimmy McCarty, Dave Doran (guitar)
Tom Cartmell (later known as Alto Reed) (saxophone)
David Briggs, Bobby Woods (piano), John Harris (organ)
Robin Robbins (Mellotron)
Tom Cogbill (bass)
Ken Buttrey, Randy Meyers (drums).

Data

Seven is indisputably the best album never to make the Top 200 Billboard album chart.


Standout cuts

All of 'em. If Seger has a perfect album, this could be it. Play it loud.

The weakest cut on the album, I suppose, might be "Seen A Lot of Floors." On the other hand, it was the b-side of "Need Ya" and it's certainly the perfect b-side, right up there with the Stone's "Under Assistant West Coast Promo Man."

I classify "Floors" as one of Seger's sex songs. Years ago, my great good friend Jesse noted with righteous indignation that the recorded version changes the line "seen a lot of whores," (which is how Seger rendered it live, back in the Primo/Ann Arbor days) to "seen a lot of doors." It seemed needlessly prudish in 1974 to substitute the word doors for whores, back when the MC5 were shouting (and recording) "Kick Out the Jams, Motherfuckers!"

Jesse, who has the sharpest eye of all and never misses a trick, also notes that the song is titled "Seen a Lot of Floors" on the album and CD, etc., but is erroneously called "Seen Alot of Floors" on the flipside of "Need Ya." "Alot" is not a word, as you may know. Of course, neither is "Ya," but consistency would be nice.


Track List

Get Out Of Denver
Long Song Comin'
Need Ya
School Teacher
Cross Of Gold
U.M.C. (Upper Middle Class)
Seen A Lot Of Floors
20 Years From Now
All Your Love


Get Out of Denver

Seger: "When you're singing 'Get Out of Denver' as the last song of the show, it can get rough. Lots of words in the song and not too much time to breathe. A smokey hall. Hot stage lights. Walking around on your toes in high-heeled shoes. I've been thinkin' about putting oxygen backstage. But running, it really helps. I've really noticed a difference since I started doing this [running, preferably five days a week] a couple of years ago." Lowell Caufiel, Cream Magazine in August 1976

Seger wrote "Get Out of Denver" around the time they were opening for BTO. As an opening act, you only had a short time on to make an impression on people, he said, so he was trying to write powerhouse tunes the crowd would remember. He wrote the words in about 15 minutes, he said, and it wasn't based on any real life episode...but why he chose Denver and the other stuff, I don't know. Interesting that it's basically a song about running from the cops after a near bust -- yet these days Seger is so anti-drug he won't even sing "when you need a fix" in the live version of Rock and Roll Never Forgets...he leaves that line out, in case you haven't noticed.

And what about the vehicle discrepancy in Denver? He starts in his ''60 Cadillac." But after the school teacher pulls out all she has, they take off in a pickup truck. Next thing you know, the rain starts, "but the Caddy keeps on burning rubber." Pretty swift car change. But I guess when you're running from the cops, you gotta change cars a lot.


Get Out of Aspen

Seger: "It was more like Get Out of Aspen, really. I used Denver because it was a better rhyme...we played a club up in Aspen, and Aspen was such a high-priced ski resort that they were charging people at the door something like nine dollars with a two-drink minimum, which was another eight dollars to get in and see the band, so there weren't very many people in there. We played a six night stint there, and after about the fourth night we just said, 'This is it,' because we were playing for five or six people a night. We were fairly well known and everybody liked us, but nobody wanted to pay 17-18 dollars just to sit in a club and watch us.

"What happened is, my manager, Punch, showed up to go skiing and we were walking out with our equipment...it doesn't really go with the story of Get Out of Denver, but that's how the real situation happened. " November 1987, WXRT interview.


I remember seeing "Get Out of Denver" on a jukebox in the Stinker U-Serve Gameroom in Idaho Falls, Idaho in 1974. It was the first time in my life that I ever saw Seger on a jukebox outside of Michigan, which is why I remember it so vividly.

My girlfriend and I were on our way out West, and we chose this little cafe/pinball place in Idaho Falls for dinner. I played Denver about five times straight and was so enchanted that I insisted we stay the night in Idaho Falls so I could play it some more the next day.

You don't argue with an obsession like that, so we got a motel. The next morning, we went to the same cafe for breakfast. I've never forgotten my surprise and disappointment as I walked in the door: The jukebox was gone.


Seger: "I kind of like "'Get Out of Denver' better than 'Katmandu,' it was just so energized. It was right in the slot, like 80 with a bullet [on the Billboard charts]...so close..." Late1981 radio interview.

"The story never took place, I wrote it in about 15 minutes...all the words were basically there for syncopation against the track, against what was going down in the track musically." Early 1975 radio interview.


Jim McCarty, who played lead guitar on "Get Out of Denver " and other Seger cuts was originally the guitarist for Billy Lee and Rivieras...Billy Lee later became famous as Mitch Ryder.


The lyrics:


Denver: The '90s Version

A while ago, the aol'ers who post on the Seger board were promoting the (farfetched) idea of Seger appearing on the Rosie O'Donnell show. I didn't want to see Seger making talk show chit chat. I want to see him playing rock and roll. I said so, and I told the aol-er's about the 90s version of Get Out of Denver, in the following post:

The highlight of the show? No question about it. About two-thirds through his set, the band leaves the stage, a roadie brings out a stool, Seger picks up his acoustic guitar and he sits there strumming. The lights on him are a cool blue. He's strumming kind of a moderate tempo blues-shuffle thing -- familiar, but I can't quite place it.

It sounds a little like Get Out of Denver, but considerably slower, and with a shuffle instead of a hard-driving beat. The rhythm, for you musically advanced folks, is an eighth note followed by a dotted quarter note. In other words, sort of like: da-DAA, da-DAA, da-DAA, da-DAA. Think back to how the Beatles did Revolution as a straight-ahead rock number, but then did it again as a bluesy-swing shuffle thing. The same sort of deal is going on here. Because as he starts singing, it obviously is Get Out Of Denver, done to an easy shuffle beat on acoustic guitar...Seger's obviously totally redone the song, kind of the way Clapton changed Layla, and he's clearly enjoying it...it's a friendly, mellow, sweet little number, a real beauty...

 
I still
remember
it was
autumn
and the
moon was shining...
 
...just an amazingly cool, laid-back version. The crowd kind of goes "ooohhhhh" in sort of a hush, as Seger gets through the first verse and goes into a restrained, toned-down version of the chorus. Which he ends with "Get out of Denver, better go" -- coming to an unexpectedly total stop.

And then -- and then! Brilliant lights sweep out over the crowd! The band has snuck back onstage! Mark Chatfield leaps from an amp into a circle of light and starts ripping into the opening guitar riff, full speed, no holds barred, and as the lights come up, my god!, we see Drew Abbott on stage beside him! Back to back, ripping it out! On keyboards, in a wheelchair, is Charlie Martin! Seger, meanwhile, springs from his stool, while behind him two roadies collide -- one coming from stage left, one from stage right. They smack their heads together in their attempt to retrieve Seger's stool, and now they lie onstage behind him. He can't see this, he's grabbing the mic with the energy of a 19-year-old, just blazing into the opening verse, as a woman -- jesus, can it be Nita? -- crawls out to help the roadies, looking like Jackie O. on the back of Kennedy's car. Meanwhile the crowd is one heartbeat away from a collective, arena-size heart attack. The music, the surprise, the lights, the drama -- it all hits like a punch to the solar plexus. We're stunned, we're skulled, we're more alive than we've ever been or ever will be again...and it's Seger, Seger, Seger just pounding into our brains and into our bones and into the center of our whole damn lives forever.

And that's it. That's what we live for. That's what we remember about our ourselves, and nothing else. Seger. And Get Out of Denver.

The only problem is that it's all a fantasy, and never happened. It just lives in my head. Hey...you guys dream on about Rosie O'Donnell. I got my dreams of my own.


School Teacher

Back before Springsteen became famous for (among other things) the long stories he told about his songs in concert, Seger had a "long version" of School Teacher, which contained a long story -- told during the instrumental break -- about working as a janitor and watching a very sexy teacher walk home from work. If there is a God of Boxed Sets...please, please Lord, let the long, live version appear. It's a classic.


UMC

Seger at his tastiest, jazziest best. I had friends who didn't like rock and roll (okay, they were all women) but I could play them UMC and they'd appreciate it. It always had a bit of a BTO feel to me (BTO doing "Blue Collar," that is.) Since Seger was starting to tour with BTO at the time, I wonder if that influenced him at all.


Twenty Years From Now

A beautiful song. The lyrics seem to prefigure a similar reference in "Like A Rock": "Twenty years, where'd they go." This song, "Twenty Years From Now," seems to be about Jan Dinsdale, Seger's long-time girlfriend. The first line is one of the hardest-to-understand in Seger's entire catalogue. Phonetically, it's sounds like this: "Janice tired of her inhaler / when she moved her from back East." An asthma reference?


Need Ya

"Need Ya" was one of three singles released from Seven. I recall a Rolling Stone review that described it as a great song ruined by poor production. I agree with the first part of that -- it's a high-energy rocker, and unlike Rolling Stone, I don't have any particular complaints about the production quality. In fact, I remember being mystified at the time as to why "Need Ya" wasn't a hit.

You could argue that "Need Ya" comes close to Rod Stewart territory -- particularly the "good god, I need ya," bit at the end. That "good god" thing seemed to be a Stewart signature for a while. But the lyrics and the vocal delivery are all Seger.

 

Seger fan Bill Wolski pointed out to me recently that the piano on 'Need Ya' is a nice prefiguring of "Brave Strangers.'

"Need Ya" was promoted with a strange little...something...piece of paper...bookmark?...flyer? To be honest, I don't know what it is. It's from Jesse's collection, and it looks sort of like a big bookmark with a picture of Seger with his arm around a woman who is probably Jan. The photo isn't much more than a snapshot. It's taken outside, and they're both smiling at the camera. I was just about to scan it in when I decided not to -- mainly because I think it's probably Jan and I don't see where I have the right to be putting her on the internet, twenty years later. So I scanned in the silly dice sticker instead. Scroll down, you'll come to it.

 


All Your Love

Seger: "It's really one of my favorites..[it has] just such a natural, easy going feel." Early 1975 radio interview.


Background

Seger: "The first album where I took charge and said it's going to be my way from now on." Dave Marsh, June 15, 1978, Rolling Stone. "Bob Seger: Not A Stranger Anymore."

Seger: "On...Seven, we went to Nashville and used Kenny Buttrey and Tommy Cogbill on drums and bass, as well as some other fantastic Nashville players like pianist Bobby Woods. On this same album I also started to use the Silver Bullet Band. By now we were opening for big acts like BTO and we needed screamers, so you can begin to hear both styles: "Need Ya" and "Get Out of Denver" rock hard, while "20 Years From Now" features the great Nashville country-rock flavor that those guys have. Also, that was the beginning of what we now call 'the real tour.'" Chris Cioe, Musician. "Bob Seger: Hymns from the heartland."


Packaging

The photo on the back -- Seger at the keyboard, eyes closed, head tipped back -- was taken at the Primo Showbar in Ann Arbor, Michigan in January 1973. Seger was playing "Neon Sky" at the time. I know, because I took the picture. The story of how my photo of Bob got on the back of the album -- and how I tried, twenty years later, to get paid for it -- will have to wait until an update of this page. Being one of the highlights of my life, it takes longer to explain.

The name of the piece of art on the front, by the way, is "Contrasts" -- but the placement of the word has led some to refer to the album as "Seven contrasts."

Seger and Punch wanted to use a bottle of "Seger's Seven" as part of the cover art -- mimicking Seagram's, just as Smokey Nopes had mimicked Lucky Strike. But they couldn't get permission from Seagram's, and the "Contrasts" painting became a last-minute substitute.

 

 


Promotion

Seven was promoted with a poster featuring one of the silliest pictures of Bob ever taken. He was posed in a black one-piece jump suit, with what I would call country/western embroidery. And there were these big red dice reading four and three (Seven, get it?). The poster was big, maybe two feet by three feet. Aahh, why didn't I have the sense to save it??? I'd scan it in now and embarrass the dickens out of Seger.

But wait...Seger fan Bill Cook has a copy -- and thanks to the magic of e-mail, here it is. Bill also points out that there's a copy of the poster hanging in Desirable Discs in Dearborn.)

Next to the poster, below, is a much smaller black and white from the same photo session that was used on concert flyers from that era. The b&w version is courtesy of Jesse. These are not the best pictures of Seger, maybe...but they're posted here out of our respect for the man and everything he's done.

 

Finally, below is the sticker Jesse was smart enough to save from this era. Poster, sticker, Need Ya bookmark...they really kicked the promotional machine into high gear for this album. The only problem -- with the sticker -- for me anyway, was the typestyle they chose. Well, okay, that's not the only problem with the sticker. But even now, if I glance at the sticker quickly, it always looks like there are two "o's" in the word "bob." Which is not exactly the right rock-star image.


'72Main MenuBeautiful Loser
 

 

Do ya do ya do ya wanna roll? Send your fond dreams, lost hopes, bittersweet regrets, half-remembered stories, rejoinders, rebuttals, questions, comments, corrections and contributions to:

sparling@segerfile.com