Dave Marsh is probably as big a Bob Seger fan as has ever walked the Earth, and he hated “Against the Wind.” I mean, really hated it. To wit:
“I’d like to say that this is not only the worst record Bob Seger has made but an absolutely cowardly one as well.”
“As music, “Against the Wind” is heartless and mediocre...all that Seger risks here is his credibility, and that accidentally.”
I bought the album upon its release in the late Spring of 1980, and although I really miss the days when Rolling Stone would actually publish a review like the one quoted above, I never quite understood the venom behind Marsh’s review. There’s part of me that wonders whether it was fueled in part by Seger choosing to work with Bill Szymzyck, the long-time producer of the Eagles. It may seem hard to believe for those who weren’t there at the time, but Rolling Stone and the Eagles had a big feud going in the late Seventies, for reasons that 35 years later have faded into the mists of my memory. But the fact that a bonafide rocker like Seger would associate with the “El Lay crowd” may have contributed to Marsh’s disdain for the record.
Well, there’s no question it’s slick and there’s nothing here that holds a candle to “Night Moves,” “Feel Like a Number” or “Turn the Page, but I’ve always liked the album. Songs like the title track, “No Man’s Land,” “You’ll Accomp’ny Me,” “Long Twin Silver Line,” “Fire Lake” and “Betty Lou’s Gettin’ Out Tonight” always struck me as, if not quite among his best, pretty darn fine. As an album it’s not “Night Moves” or “Live Bullet,” but neither is it the disaster that Marsh painted it to be.
And in the “also not a fan” department:
Christgau: C+. “Slow songs about sex and medium-rocking songs about sex contend with slow songs about love and medium-rocking songs about love. Title, concept, and follow-up single: slow song about the futility of life. Just in case you think he's “sold out” or some such.”