The Seger File An unofficial web site about the music of Bob Seger Last updated February 2002 Edited by Scott Sparling firstname.lastname@example.org
- August 1972
- Bob Seger (vocals, piano, guitar)
- Michael Bruce (guitar)
- Skip Knape (organ, organ pedal bass, piano)
- David Teegarden (drums, maracas)
- Pam Todd, Crystal Jenkins (vocals)
- Jack Ashford
- Jim Bruzzese (tambourine)
- Eddie Bongo (congas)
Smokin' O.P.'s was recorded in 2 and a half days at Leon Russell's Paradise Studios in Oklahoma. (The album includes the Leon Russell song, "Humming Bird.") Seger, Teegarden and Van Winkle recorded 10 songs together, of which 7 were used on the album.
"Someday," the only Seger original, appears as cut number 8. ("Someday" is a prophetic ballad about reaching the top 'someday,' but the tone is oddly bittersweet, rather than joyful..."someday, we'll be number one, someday...then we'll smile, and raise our glasses high/and the world will know/you and I."
"Heavy Music" -- actually Heavy Music Part 1 -- is cut number 9.
Of the seven cover songs, one is "Let It Rock," which became a Seger classic in live sets.
The album title refers to smoking other people's cigarettes -- or, in this case, playing other people's songs. (Due to the oddly placed apostrophe on the cover, Jesse and I often refer to this album as "Smoki Nopes.")
Teegarden and Knape had recorded as Teegarden and Van Winkle and had a hit with "God Love and Rock & Roll." When they started playing with Seger, they were called STK for a short time -- for Seger, Teegarden and Knape. Monk Bruce, on bass, is not the same Monk Bruce who played in Alice Cooper's group, so I've been told.
Seger: "We were only together about six weeks with the girls [backup singers]...though the 4 of us had been playing together about a year...
"David and Skip's view was like a jazz coalescence: jazz musicians come together and they play for a time, and then they make a record of what they did...and that's basically what we did...
"We got together and we played and we enjoyed it. I was learning from them and they were learning from me...we never intended to stay together." Early 1975 radio interview.
"We never could come together as a writing team...they weren't writing much and I wasn't writing much, so at the end of it we decided to just go in and record our live show. And we did it literally in 2 and 1/2 days." Late 1981 radio interview.
Smokin' O.P.'s is the first Seger album to appear on Palladium Records -- a label that Punch started after Seger left Capitol. The album was immediately picked up (and reissued) by Warner Bros.
Random Note: Another group managed by Punch -- Stretch Thomas -- put out a Palladium single, "If I Had My Way," written by Seger. And I've seen reference to a Palladium album called Seventeen Seventy-Six, which is supposedly a compilation of "Detroit Music" released in 1971.
"Bo Diddley" ("Arlene grabbed me by my hand and said, 'Cool-it- Robert-you-know-you're-my-man!"), "If I Were A Carpenter," "Let it Rock" and "Someday."
I heard STK live three or four times, and I remember absolutely loving "Drivin' Wheel" and "Dancin' In the Streets." Seger's phrasing on the latter replaces the softer Martha and the Vandellas version with dynamite James Brown-style power: "It doesn't matter what you wear" -- oomph! and then -- "Just-as-long-as-you're-there!" Pow-pow-pow-pow-pow-pow! Boxed set material, definitely.
Also, we (Jesse, T.L. and me) frequently heard Seger's version of "(My Love is Taking You) Higher and Higher" on Ann Arbor radio around this time -- so at least some of this material was on tape. (See the Bands section for more on STK.)
Longtime Seger photographer Thomas Weschler designed the cover. The original Palladium version opens on the top and has a sticker (meant to look like the sticker on the top of a cigarette pack), which says "Bob Seger - Skip Knape" on it. On reissues, the sticker says "A" (as in Grade A tobacco) and "9 TUNES" on it. Inside the original album was a typewritten 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper listing the credits.
On the back, there is an odd paragraph written by Seger featuring a dialogue between a frog and a polluted river. The river asks, what have you done for me lately and the frog replies, "Well, I started Smokin' O.P.'s." The paragraph is deleted from reissues.
The sticker shown here is a promotional item Jesse and I got from Punch. I sent Punch a dollar, and he sent me the stickers and the dollar back. It is simply the album cover art in crack-and-peel sticker format.
Now, in case you've never seen the actual album, you can see why Jesse and I call it Smoki Nopes. Sort of.
There were also promotional posters, which Jesse and I ripped down from the wall at The Rock and Roll Farm in Huron, Michigan, at the end of one of Seger's shows.
And the back of the album, without the frog/river parable:
In the early '70s, Jesse and I used to make trips to Hideout to pick up promotional items. On one visit, Punch gave us some t-shirt "decals" -- essentially, a wax decal that you ironed on to a shirt, back before printed t-shirts were common. The "Try One of Ours" artwork may be the first Seger promotional t-shirt.