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Smokin' O.P.'s
Bob Seger

Palladium 1006
Released: July 1972
Chart Peak: #180
Weeks Charted: 11

Bob SegerIt's that legendary "Heavy Music" man back on the scene again with his fifth album in as many years, and most likely his best (arguably, his best material is available only on Abkco singles, and were originally released on the Cameo-Parkway label six years ago}.

If you're residing on either coast, it's a good bet you've never heard of this guy, and you've been missing a thrill. Hopefully, this album will change all that. In the South, Southwest, and all-important Midwest, they rank this Detroit boy right up there with Rod Stewart and Joe Cocker. With good reason -- Bob has consistently churned out great singles for six years, and always puts on a great, exciting live show. Seger is an intense, charismatic performer and person, and the fact that he has never made it big in California or New York is at least as unfortunate for those of us living in those states, as it is for Seger himself. And he is one of the few hard rockers who is totally capable of translating his in-concert excitement from the stage to the vinyl.

The man who wrote "Heavy Music," "2 + 2," "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man," and "Death Row" in his days with Cameo and then Capitol Records (the most important of the Capitol LPs to have is Tales of Lucy Blue) comes through here not so much with original material as with successful interpretations of already popular songs. His "If I Were A Carpenter" was a pretty big hit last summer, for instance, and that's a pretty hard song to breathe new life into, it's been done so many times already.

He's backed on this record by Teegarden and Van Winkle, themselves an established popular Michigan rock group (remember "God, Love, and Rock and Roll"?). Seger can rock with the best of them on guitar or keyboards, but his greatest asset is his voice. Echoes of Eric Burdon in his prime may run through your head, and justifiably so, but Seger has his own vocal style.

His choice of material for this album is eclectic and successful: Bo Diddley's "Bo Diddley" and Eric Anderson's Chuck Berry riff, "Let It Rock." Plus Stephen Stills' "Love The One You're With," Leon Russell's "Hummingbird" and Bobby Blue Bland's classic "Lovelight."

Worth the entire price of admission, however, is a version of "Heavy Music" that sounds very close to the original version of six years ago. It must be an old version, because the band is Seger's old Last Heard, not the same personnel as on the rest of this record. The song is a prime example of and an anthem about Detroit's heavy rock and roll music.

It's about time that Bob Seger achieved the recognition that his talents and his six years of sweat and poverty have earned him. There is no excuse for you to not have this album in your collection, no excuse at all.

Case dismissed.

- Harold Tribune, Words & Music, 12/72.

Bonus Reviews!

Seger's first venture on the Detroit-based label has proven to be a successful one with the single "If I Were a Carpenter" on the Hot 100 and now included in this debut package. Seger's back stronger than ever with heavy performances of "Love the One You're With," "Turn on Your Love Light," and "Bo Diddley." LP has it to hit with sales impact.

- Billboard, 1972.

Zippy title for an album of seven covers and two originals -- O.P.'s is Midwestern butt-bummers' slang for Other People's. But for some reason Seger has cadged songs already covered definitively by such other o.p. as B.B. King, the Isley Brothers, the Grateful Dead, and the Rolling Stones. Both his band and his voice sound a lot more adroit than they did last time he was caught smokin'. But who needs 'em? [Later on Reprise, then on Capitol.] C+

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

Smokin' O.P.'s was a fine showcase for Seger's workmanlike rock & roll approach. "Heavy Music," an original, became a huge Detroit hit. Other highlights included Seger's versions of such standards as "Bo Diddley," "Let It Rock," and "Turn on Your Lovelight." * * *

- Rick Clark, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

In June 2005, Capitol Records responded to requests from Bob Seger's online fan community for reissues of his more obscure works by releasing a newly remastered version of the Detroit rocker's 1972 release, Smokin' O.P.'s. In addition to his funk-rock interpretations of some of rock's best loved standards, Smokin' O.P.'s included a "cover" of Seger's own "Heavy Music" and "Someday," which he had recently penned about the hardships encountered in the music industry.

Seger made his Capitol debut in 1968 and has remained with the label ever since -- except for a three-year break. Touring almost continually, Seger set up his own distribution company, Palladium, for the release of Smokin' O.P.'s. With the success of the single "If I Were A Carpenter," an immediate hit in Detroit, Seger's career seemed to be rejuvenated. In fact, the record began to take off so well that independent distributors like Arc Jay Kay and AMI Distributors were screaming for more records. When Seger and company ran out of resources to press records, they signed on to the Reprise label for distribution through Warner Bros., but by the time Warner Bros. plants were up and running the momentum had passed and Seger would have to struggle for three more years before his music would receive widespread commercial success.

- On Target Media, 2005.

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