AM, Then FM turns 7 this week. To celebrate, a story of a long-ago record hunt.
Those of you who are regulars know how much I dig Bob Seger’s early stuff. The first Seger song I came to know and love, I heard on the radio in 1974. That single was “Get Out Of Denver,” the breathless rocker from “Seven,” the seventh LP by a still-young Seger.
Just one problem. Because Seger was then still just a regional act, big only in the Midwest, the distribution of his records was hit or miss. Try as I might, I couldn’t find “Seven” in my hometown of Wausau, Wisconsin.
So I mentioned that to my friend Herb one day. Herb was two years older, and he promised to look for “Seven” when he went back to college in the fall.
There was one condition, though. Herb also couldn’t find a record he wanted in Wausau. If memory serves, he was looking for this one …
“First Base,” by the British prog rockers Babe Ruth. They covered Frank Zappa’s “King Kong” on it, and Herb was into Zappa.
So Herb said, “Tell you what. I’ll keep an eye out for your record and you keep an eye out for mine.”
Eventually, I found Herb’s record, and Herb found mine. My copy of “Seven” came out of a cutout bin, probably from somewhere in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
Scott Sparling, whose website The Seger File is a tremendous resource about all things Seger, calls this “indisputably the best album never to make the Top 200 Billboard album chart.” This was Seger’s first record with the Silver Bullet Band. They opened for Kiss while touring in support of “Seven.”
You probably know “Get Out Of Denver,” so here are a couple of other cuts from “Seven,” as we celebrate seven years.
“Need Ya” and “School Teacher,” Bob Seger, from “Seven,” 1974.
The LP, and these songs, are out of print. Three of the other cuts on “Seven” — “Get Out Of Denver,” “Long Song Comin'” and “U.M.C. (Upper Middle Class)” — are available on “Early Seger, Vol. 1,” a 2010 release, and digitally.
“Need Ya” was the first single off the album, but went nowhere. Sounds to me to be influenced by Rod Stewart, and Sparling hears that, too. “Get Out Of Denver” came next and peaked at No. 80.
Sparling says the live version of “School Teacher” is a bit of a holy grail for Seger fans. He explains:
“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.”
As the summer of 1974 wound to a close, “School Teacher” was an album cut listed as “hitbound” on WTAC, The Big 6, out of Flint, Michigan. It never made it.
Please visit our companion blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.