“East Side Story” (1966) isn’t Bob Seger’s debut record (that honor goes to the bizarre pro-war “Ballad Of The Yellow Beret” - an opinion he soon reversed via a record we’ll hear in a bit), but it is a fully realized recording that makes plain from the opening fuzz guitar and bongos it ain’t messing around. Framed by an incredible groove, the track is tied together by Bob’s extraordinary lyric, coupled with the incredibly powerful ‘no’s‘ of the chorus. And while it was picked up for national release by Cameo Records, perhaps the message was still too odious for the masses (although the record was a massive hit in Detroit).
Bob went on to release a few more singles (including the cool Xmas novelty “Sock It To Me Santa”), but it was 1967′s “Heavy Music” that seemed poised to propel the group into stardom. With a soulful groove that swings HARD, exceptional vocals (by both Bob and angelic backing singers, Honey Ltd.) this record should have been massive. Once again, it was a local smash in Detroit.
By 1968, Cameo had given up on Bob, but he was soon picked up by a much larger label; Los Angeles powerhouse Capitol Records. Bob’s first release for Capitol could not have been less commercial, though. One of the most powerful anti-war tracks ever laid to tape,”2+2=?” completely reverses Seger’s views on the Vietnam war. The vocal intensity alone matches that of Roky Erickson. The record may not have been a hit, but god DAMN does it hit hard with a message is just as relevant today.