Bob Seger‘s surprise arrival on streaming sites doesn’t lay his whole catalog at our fingertips yet (we’re still waiting for long-missing early releases such as Noah, Mongrel and Back in ’72), but there’s a good chunk of music in the 13 titles out now. We know all the hits, of course, and there’ll be plenty of taps on “Night Moves,” “Still the Same,” “Mainstreet,” “Hollywood Nights,” “We’ve Got Tonite,” et al.
But like all catalog rollouts the Seger arrival gives old fans a chance to reacquaint themselves with favorite deep cuts and newbies the opportunity to find the depth beyond the singles. Here’s a sampling of 16 that may not be top of mind but certainly merit making your playlist.
“2 + 2 = ?” (1968, Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man): Seger’s charged, biting anti-Vietnam protest recently returned to vinyl as a special Record Store Day collaboration with Third Man Records. Bona fide heavy music with psychedelic overtones, it’s as potent in the current environment as it was nearly 50 years ago.
“Tales Of Lucy Blue” (1969, Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man): Garage rock and psychedelic collide again on this debut album cut, propelled by Dan Honaker’s punchy bass line and one of the most desperate-sounding vocals Seger’s ever put on record.
“Jody Girl” (1975, Beautiful Loser): Seger at his gentlest, empathetic best, both commiserating and encouraging a friend going through tough times. The Live Bullet version is even more affecting.
“I’ve Been Working” (1976, Live Bullet): Seger’s take on this Van Morrison tune hasn’t received the attention of other Live Bullet covers such as “Nutbush City Limits” and “Let It Rock,” but it certainly enhances Seger’s reputation as an ace interpreter of his heroes.
“Come To Poppa” (1976, Night Moves); Seger cuts a funky rug on this side two cut from his breakthrough studio set, recorded in Alabama with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.
“Brave Strangers” (1978, Stranger In Town): Seger makes some more night moves in this upbeat, piano-driven ode to drive-by romance, with a soul breakdown in the middle that’s its own sound of thunder.
“Till It Shines” (1978, Stranger In Town): While “Hollywood Nights” was considered Seger’s statement of disquiet about his burgeoning fame, this smoothly rendered musing, another Muscle Shoals collaboration, cuts even deeper as he sings about “the rich man lost and lonely” — with an epic guitar solo in the outro.
“Long Twin Silver Line” (1980, Against The Wind): While hits such as “Fire Lake,” “You’ll Accomp’ny Me” and the title song tagged Against The Wind as a ballad album, this chugging train track was one of several that kept the octane high for those who were really paying attention.
“Makin’ Thunderbirds”/”Boomtown Blues” (1982, The Distance): The auto industry doldrums plaguing Seger’s hometown were not lost on him, and this one-two punch captures all the frustration, desperation and agitation of the situation.
“Tightrope”/”The Aftermath” (1986, Like A Rock): This pair of songs co-written by Seger and Silver Bullet Band keyboardist Craig Frost sounds a bit dated 30-plus years later, but it sports synthesizer experimentation that provides a bit of context for the subsequent “Shakedown” from Beverly Hills Cop II.
“Sightseeing” (1991, The Fire Inside): Seger goes creole on this jaunty, galloping track, with Bruce Hornsby providing the accordion.
“The Mountain” (1991, The Fire Inside): A rare moment of slamming, molten hard rock with Seger trading guitar licks with guest Joe Walsh.
“New Coat Of Paint” (1991, The Fire Inside): Seger certainly likes his Tom Waits and delivers this cover with plenty of lung power propulsion.
“Downtown Train” (2011, Ultimate Hits): There was a bit of conflict between Seger and Rod Stewart back in 1989 when both recorded this Waits favorite and Stewart slipped his out first. Seger’s version finally surfaced 22 years later and was well worth the wait.