oldbluescat | Greensboro, NC | 02/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've owned this release on vinyl for many years before getting it on disc and it is without a doubt my favorite Bob Seger album. Bob sings with absolute joy and soul. The band is tight and guitarist Michael "Monk" Bruce shines on tunes like "Turn On Your Lovelight" and "Love The One You're With." His style is R&B with just a tinge of jazz and is reminiscent of early Steely Dan guitarists Denny Dias and Jeff Baxter. Skip Knape's Hammond organ puts down a driving groove on most tunes and Pam Todd and Crystal Jenkins' vocals help make the Stills cover more soulful than the original. If this disc doesn't make your feet tap, check for a pulse."
Excellent, hard-rocking early Seger
Docendo Discimus | Vita scholae | 03/28/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"1972's "Smokin' O.P.'s" is almost a cover album, really. Bob Seger, a singer-songwriter who mostly records his own material, "smokes other people's songs" here (that's supposedly the idea behind the odd title), including "Bo Diddley", Stephen Stills' "Love The One You're With", and Chuck Berry's "Let It Rock".
He also covers himself, though, reinterpreting the old Bob Seger & the Last Heard-number "Heavy Music", and adding one new song to the mix, the 2½-minute ballad "Someday". And while this may seem like pretty standart Seger-fare (several of these songs show up on his live albums), "Smokin'" isn't really all that standart when you look a little bit closer.
Seger is backed by energetic, hard-hitting drummer David Teegarden, guitarist Michael "Monk" Bruce, and not least by organist and pianist Skip Knape, who also plays organ pedal bass, and the arrangements, which are dominated by crunchy guitar riffs, pounding drums and Knape's organ, are more loose and and soul-flavoured and even jam band-like than most of Seger's albums of crisp, tight rock n' roll numbers. The six-minute "Bo Diddley" rides along strongly on a very prominent, pulsating organ, and that exceptionally well-utilized organ, in tandem with Seger's unusually spontaneus and improvisational vocals, is a big part of what makes this album so realatively different from most of his other long players.
Seger turns "If I Were A Carpenter" into a passionate, plaintive soul number, and duets with singers Pam Todd and Crystal Jenkins on "Love The One You're With". He makes a totally convincing hard rocker out of the traditional folk of "Jesse James", and breathes new life into Bobby 'Blue' Bland's old single "Turn On Your Love Light". And while I'll freely admit to not being a huge Bob Seger fan, he does a very, very good job with almost all of these "O.P.'s".
I think Seger's live albums in particular are terrific, but most of his studio albums are pretty uneven in my view. Of all the Seger albums I've heard, "Smokin' O.P.'s" is probably the one that comes closest to replicating the sound of Bob Seger in concert, rocking with fiery abandon and letting the musicians stretch out and flex their muscles.
And Seger sounds like he is having fun, too. This is a really fine album, one of his very best studio efforts, and one of his most energetic for sure.