Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Bob Seger

  • Smokin' O.P.'s [Palladium, 1972] C+
  • Back in '72 [Palladium/Reprise, 1973] B
  • Seven [Palladium/Reprise, 1974] B+
  • Beautiful Loser [Capitol, 1975] B-

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Smokin' O.P.'s [Palladium, 1972]
Zippy title for an album of seven covers and two originals--O.P.'s is Midwestern butt-bummers' slang for Other People's. But for some reason Seger has cadged songs already covered definitively by such other o.p. as B.B. King, the Isley Brothers, the Grateful Dead, and the Rolling Stones. Both his band and his voice sound a lot more adroit than they did last time he was caught smokin'. But who needs 'em? C+

Back in '72 [Palladium/Reprise, 1973]
Much sharper covers (his "Midnight Rider" beats Cocker's) plus originals that ain't bad for tours 'n' tribulations--"Rosalie," to CKLW programmer Rosalie Twombley, is a stroke in more ways than one, and the details of a day on the road in "Turn the Page" actually make you feel sorry for the poor guy. Elsewhere he feels sorry for himself, which is not the same thing. B

Seven [Palladium/Reprise, 1974]
Unbecoming for a seven-LP veteran to be stuck vocally at the adolescent outrage stage, midway between screech and scream, but he's learning--a high-speed Chuck Berry chant called "Get Out of Denver" kicks the whole first side into high gear. Glad too that he has his doubts about the upper-middle class, and that he's attracted to schoolteachers, including one he expects to know "20 Years From Now." He could be nicer to groupies, though. B+

Beautiful Loser [Capitol, 1975]
In which he redeems the overexpressionistic "River Deep, Mountain High" (on Mongrel) with a funny version of "Nutbush City Limits" (a better song anyway) and writes his own "Katmandu" (roll over, Cat Stevens). And beyond that there's the title tune, which seems overunsarcastic to me. B-