When it was announced that Bob Seger would be playing our local arena in 2013, my friend Larry in New Jersey suggested I “buy a front row seat and spend the whole concert screaming ‘EAST SIDE STORY!!!!!'”
Which is a song Seger won’t play live. It’s one of his best songs, but it’s from early in his career, a time he seemingly refuses to acknowledge. If you’ve spent any time reading this blog, you know we love Bob Seger’s early stuff. He was huge in Detroit and we heard him on the radio in Wisconsin long before he hit it big with the Silver Bullet Band in 1976.
But because Bob Seger won’t play most of his great early stuff live, I didn’t go see that 2013 show, nor did I go see him when he returned to Green Bay last August.
Which brings us to yesterday’s intriguing news that ABKCO Records is releasing a bunch of Bob Seger’s earliest singles on LP, in glorious mono, on September 7.
“East Side Story,” the song championed by Larry, is the second cut on the forthcoming “Heavy Music: The Complete Cameo Recordings 1966-1967.” It draws from singles released by the Cameo label out of Detroit in 1966 and 1967.
It’s intriguing because we’ve been down this road before and have been disappointed.
In 2009, Seger teased us with “Early Seger, Vol. 1,” a regional release comprised mostly of deep cuts from some of his earliest LPs. Ten of the 14 cuts were from “Smokin’ O.P.’s,” “Back In ’72” and “Seven,” all released from 1972 to 1974. I have those LPs, so I didn’t need the comp.
In 2011, Seger ignored his early days when he released “Ultimate Hits: Rock And Roll Never Forgets,” which was comprised entirely of songs from 1976 or later.
Those of us who dig Seger’s early work again felt a little left out. So we put together a blog post of Bob Seger’s other greatest hits.
Larry picked “East Side Story,” of course. “Heavy Music” was a consensus pick by our panel of experts. Appropriately, “Heavy Music” also is the first cut on the new release.
Still, I wonder. I find it hard to believe that Bob Seger, always so reluctant to let his early stuff see the light of day, signed off on this. Perhaps he got a sweet deal. Perhaps he doesn’t own the rights to these releases and has no say. ABKCO re-released two of the Last Heard singles in 1973, but billed them as Bob Seger only.
Whatever. I’ll be happy to get it when it lands in our local record stores come September, even if I’ve heard all but four of the 10 cuts.
I already had two of the cuts on “Michigan Brand Nuggets,” a compilation of early Detroit garage and psych rock “fortified with 7 very rare Bob Seger songs.” It was released in 1996 and re-released in 2016. The two cuts are both sides of a Cameo single released in February 1967 and re-released as an ABKCO single in 1973.
“Persecution Smith” was the A side. From the liner notes: “The follow-up to ‘East Side Story.’ Sounds more than a little like Bob Dylan circa ‘Bringing It All Back.'”
“Chain Smokin'” was the B side. From the liner notes: “A good spoof about the torments of tobacco addiction.”