By the time Bob Seger released Smokin' O.P.'s in August of 1972, he'd been playing in Detroit area bands for more than 11 years, effortlessly blending Motown soul with Mitch Ryder style rock'n'roll. Witness this Bob Seger and The Last Heard performance of Seger's "East Side Story" in 1966, which sold 50,000 copies in the Detroit area.
In 1968 The Bob Seger System had a Top 20 hit with "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" ( with his friend and future Eagle Glenn Frey signing back up).
But the next two album failed to chart. And after Capitol Records dropped him, it seemed Seger would go down as a local legend and one hit wonder. That's when he recorded Smokin' O.P's with the duo Teegraden and Van Winkle.
The title refers to Smokin' Other People's ( cigarettes) and features a cover that looks like a pack of Lucky Strikes. It's the earliest Seger album still available on CD and it has become a fan favorite. The album is made up of cover versions of songs by Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and not that many others. The album had only nine songs. All earnestly and soulfully sung. It's running time was under 34 minutes. The single was a version of Tim Hardin's "If I Were A Carpenter" which peaked at #76.
It would take many more albums and a hell of a lot more touring before Seger would truly hit it big in 1976 with the combination of Live Bullet, recorded in front of adoring hometown fans, and Night Moves with its #4 title track. Seger would earn millions performing mid temp rock tunes that repeated the song titles over and over again ( like "Against The Wind": "Against the wind/ against the wind/ still runnin/ against the wind/ still running against the wind/ against the wind" etc. which also had backing vocals from Glenn Frey)