Posted tagged ‘Bob Seger’

Smokin’ indeed

November 29, 2008

Last week, our friend Michael over at Fusion 45 wrote an item about the tune “Bo Diddley” as done by Bob Seger on his 1972 album “Smokin’ O.P.’s.”

Michael calls it “my new favorite song” and adds that “this version has a killer groove.” Indeed it does, my man. Quite a jam on that one as it goes from “Bo Diddley” to a bit of “Who Do You Love” at the end.

I’d been searching for a vinyl copy of “Smokin’ O.P.’s” for some time, and finally came across it this summer at a record show in New Brighton, Minnesota. It was worth the wait and it was worth the $10.

Bob Seger’s early stuff — recorded before he hit it big with the Silver Bullet Band in 1976 — is terrific. It’s passionate, hard-rocking and energetic. We’ve featured some early Seger here before, just about a year ago.

“Smokin’ O.P.’s” is an album made up largely of covers, sort of a bridge between the earliest Bob Seger System tunes that were big mostly only around Detroit and some early ’70s solo albums that were big mostly only in the Midwest.

“Bo Diddley” is the first cut on “Smokin’ O.P.’s.” It’s a Bo Diddley cover, of course. It’s followed by covers of tunes by Stephen Stills, Tim Hardin and Leon Russell.

They’re all tasty, especially “Love The One You’re With,” which has some driving chukka-chukka guitar by Mike Bruce and terrific vocals by Pam Todd and Crystal Jenkins. “If I Were A Carpenter” has plenty of nice Hammond organ by Skip Knope. Seger delivers a scorching vocal on “Hummin’ Bird,” backed by the ladies.

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“Bo Diddley,” “Love The One You’re With,” “If I Were A Carpenter” and “Hummin’ Bird,” Bob Seger, from “Smokin O.P.’s,” 1972. It runs 17:50. This one of the few early Seger records to get a CD release.

(Do you remember Teegarden and Van Winkle, the duo that had a hit with “God, Love, Rock & Roll” in 1970? They’re in Seger’s band on this one. David Teegarden is the drummer. Knope — a/k/a Van Winkle — handles the keyboards. Teegarden went on to play in the Silver Bullet Band, backing Seger on four albums.)

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On the verge of stardom

December 1, 2007

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When Bob Seger’s “Beautiful Loser” album was released in 1975, he was 30 and had been working on the Detroit rock scene since his teens.

He’d had several regional hits, with “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” his biggest, reaching No. 17 nationally in 1968. He was well-regarded in Detroit and the Midwest as a hard-working rocker and a fine songwriter. Yet he was not nationally known.

It’s hard to think of Seger that way today because he’s been such a big star for so long. There are those who know Seger only for his work with the Silver Bullet Band. Then there are those of us who listened to Seger before the Silver Bullet Band.

I find early Seger more interesting than Seger the hit-maker. I stopped buying Seger’s albums after this one. What I heard on the radio and on his Silver Bullet Band-era albums seemed too polished, too mannered, lacking the grit and authenticity of his earlier work.

Tonight’s side, from “Beautiful Loser,” captures Seger on the verge of hitting it big. Three of the four cuts on Side 1 also turned up on “Live Bullet,” which came out a year later and was Seger’s breakthrough album.

Seger is backed by the Muscle Shoals rhythm and horn sections on “Beautiful Loser,” giving the harder-rocking tunes plenty of sock.

Side 1 puts two of those harder-rocking tunes — the swamp-rockish “Black Night” and the full-blown rave-up “Katmandu” — in the middle. They’re bookended by a couple of quieter tunes, the piano-driven “Beautiful Loser” and the largely acoustic “Jody Girl.”

“Beautiful Loser” is fine early Seger, so much so that it’s only one of two pre-Silver Bullet albums still in print. The other is “Smokin’ O.P.’s,” a fan favorite from 1972 which features several covers.

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“Beautiful Loser,” “Black Night,” “Katmandu” and “Jody Girl,” Bob Seger, from “Beautiful Loser,” 1975. It runs 16:16.