I tend to appreciate this album a lot more now than when it was released in 1972. Bob Seger’s sound was so smooth during his commercial apex that Smokin’ O.P.’s provides a nice counterpoint.
Seger spent over a decade as a star in the Detroit area, before he gained national fame. He played hundreds of concert halls and venues and this album represents the gritty type of rock ‘n’ roll that he performed. Seven of the nine tracks are well known standards that thousands of bar bands have played over the years. It’s just that even at this point in his career, he performed them better and with more energy that just about any of these groups.
Three of the four songs contained on the first side of the original vinyl release are just exuberant rock ‘n’ roll at its best. “Bo Diddley/Who Do You Love” is six plus minutes of guitar based rock which features a great vocal complete with ad-libs. Stephen Stills' “Love The One You’re With,” with some unique lead guitar lines by Michael Bruce, still sounds fresh over 35 years later.
Seger even manages to give a credible performance of the old standard “If I Were A Carpenter.” The only real miss is Leon Russell’s “Hummingbird” which is just a little too lightweight for his sound.
Side two is more hit or miss. Chuck Berry’s “Let It Rock” is straight forward rock ‘n’ roll while “Turn On Your Love Light” is given a kind of funky performance. Perhaps the most interesting track is the old folk tune “Jesse James” which is given a rock treatment.
The only two songs that miss the mark and seem out of place are both originals. “Someday” is just fair at best while “Heavy Music” was an updating of his former regional hit and seemed dated in 1972.
Bob Seger has a catalog of material that is some of the best and most recognizable in rock ‘n’ roll history. However if you would like to explore his legacy a little deeper, then Smokin’ O.P.’s is a good place to start. You won’t be disappointed.