Bob Seger

The Singles: 1966-1967

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Unless you grew up in Michigan in the mid-'60s, you probably have no idea that Seger's roots extend further than his bar band/road band/singer/songwriter/arena star experiences. Way back before the '70s, he was one of many talented Michigan garage rockers, releasing several stomping singles in the style. Some were quite popular regionally, but none made it nationally; all were far raunchier in execution than anything he's done since. Perhaps he prefers to keep it in the closet, but these sides have proven very hard to come by; this compilation, almost certainly unauthorized, gathers together a dozen of them. And it's good stuff: the sub-"Subterranean Homesick Blues" of "Persecution Smith," the local hit "East Side Story" (a mini-drama that sounds like Springsteen as a '60s punk), the satirical "Sock It to Me Santa" and "Ballad of the Yellow Beret," the storming, twisting "Vagrant Winter," and hints of the '70s singer/songwriter in "Heavy Music" and "Looking Back." Fans of tough '60s rock, indeed, will probably find this superior to most or all of his subsequent work, although fans of his more famous post-1970 recordings may feel a little lost. This LP is virtually impossible to locate these days; it's time for the official reissue of this material, as it can hold its head high next to top-flight Michigan rock of the time by Mitch Ryder, the Rationals, and others.

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