Long before local Bob Seger ascended to classic rock royalty with his radio-friendly visions of proto-Americana "Night Moves," "Against The Wind," etc. he was a gritty garage-rocker whose late '60s and early '70s records subsequently inspired punk bands to turbocharge Seger numbers like "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man," "Get Out of Denver" and "Heavy Music." The latter tune, a slice of fratty R&B with an irresistible "Nobody But Me"-styled groove, closes out this long-awaited, beautifully restored reissue, which, incidentally, was recorded in the basement of a Detroit bowling alley. (Legend has it that if you listen closely you can detect additional low end caused by Pampa Lanes bowlers located above the studio.) Before that, there's a slew of stellar cover tunes the album title means "smoking other people's" songs offering testimony to the Seger band's interpretive skills. As abetted by guitarist Michael "Monk" Bruce, drummer David Teegarden and organist Skip "Van Winkle" Knape, Seger garageafies "Turn On Your Love Light" and gives Tim Hardin's "If I Were A Carpenter" an injection of psychedelic soul. Most notably there's Bo Diddley's "Bo Diddley" where, as the band vamps nonstop for more than six minutes, Seger interpolates B.D. lyrics from "Who Do You Love" and grunts, shouts and testifies like he's some Caucasian bastard son of James Brown. Smokin' stuff, indeed.
Fred Mills writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].