Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Things we like: Bob Seger, A-Square Records

I've long been of the opinion that Bob Seger's manager was leaving money on the table by not reissuing Bob's early Cameo-Parkway singles. As one who got my coat pulled to Seger's early work by Dave Marsh in Creem back in '71 (see what I did there?), spent the summer of '72 calling my local oldies station requesting "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" (which they claimed they couldn't play because it "wasn't a hit" -- although I remember it being Top 40 in NY in '68), and got off the bus around the time Bob became commercially viable with "Night Moves," I had to search long and hard to hear 'em all (Youtube helped) before a pal in Michigan hooked me up with a copy of the reished Michigan Brand Nuggets bootleg comp a couple of years ago. Now ABKCo has favored us with Heavy Music: Complete Cameo Recordings 1966-1967, which brings together all the sides Bob cut before the Last Heard (whom my boss at the record store I worked in while I was in high school once saw playing some student lounge at NYU; he also saw the Mothers at the Garrick and the Who and Cream at Murray the K's Easter Show) evolved into the System.

You can hear the erstwhile organ player for Doug Brown and the Omens learning how to write songs, taking on "Gloria"-era Van Morrison ("East Side Story"), Highway 61 Dylan ("Persecution Smith," with somebody doing a good job of imitating Mike Bloomfield's Telecaster tone), Brian Wilson ("Florida Time"), and "Paint It, Black" Stones ("Vagrant Winter"). The heavyweight champeen, however is the two-part "Heavy Music," the greatest Motown jam Berry Gordy had nothing to do with, the second part of which is my preferred one for the ridiculously great fillip "NSU, SRC, Stevie Winwood got nothing on me." Thankfully omitted is Bob's anti-Nam protester song "Ballad of the Yellow Beret." There's a slow one on here that ain't too snazz, and none of his Capitol stuff is included, but we take 'em where we can get 'em, and the rest of the stuff is fine, fine, supafine.

Speaking of SRC, I generally don't mess with Record Store Day releases, but for this past Black Friday, Third Man dropped a 2LP A2 - An A-Square Compilation, documenting the trajectory of the mid-'60s Ann Arbor indie helmed by local taste maker and Discount Records manager (and thus, the future Iggy's boss) Jeep Holland. While the Rationals stuff has appeared on Big Beat's excellent 2CD and two standalone LP releases, and the MC5's "Looking At You"/"Borderline" single (their best record, for my two cents, even though the latter sounds like it was recorded from inside the late Michael Davis' bass amp) has been reished many times, the four tracks from the Scot Richard Case (as SRC were known before their psychedelic apotheosis on Capitol) -- including their local hit version of Cream's "I'm So Glad" and two sterling Pretty Things covers -- are choice, and new-to-me sides by the Apostles (their version of the Cadets' "Stranded in the Jungle" being particularly boss), the Prime Movers (local Butterfield simulacra sounding more Yardbirds-like here, with the future Iggy kicking the traps), Dick Wagner's Bossmen (whose great "Mystery Man" was later the best song on his late-'60s outfit the Frost's second LP), Stony & the Jagged Edge, and the downright Sabbath-y Half Life are all equally stellar. Cut-for-cut, this is one of the best garage comps I've heard since Larry Harrison laid Michigan Mayhem, Vol. 1 on me 20+ years ago, or indeed, the Fort Worth Teen Scene comps Larry and the late David Campbell assembled for Norton a few years back. Grab it quick before it's gone.


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