Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Bob Seger & The Last Heard—
Heavy Music (Pt 1)/(Pt 2)

Released 1967 on Cameo-Parkway
The Seth Man, April 2001ce
The Last Heard recorded five singles for Cameo-Parkway between 1966 and 1967 just prior to their mutation into The Bob Seger System. And “Heavy Music” was the final and easily the most explosive 45 of the bunch. For starters, its “Nobody But Me” dance beat never quits and it’s sweating up a storm like you cannot believe as Seger accordions the lyrics into stretched out fanning-ness with all the urgency of a song that was waiting all along for the right singer to sing it. And when it finally made contact: BOOM!

It starts up all innocent like: tersely snapped fingers accompanied by just piano and a bass line. But a few seconds after Seger’s soft vocal invite “Ooohh, c’mon babuh...we’re gonna have a good time” all explodes into an immediate needle-into-red vocal proclamation. Namely: “Dontchaeverlissentotheradiowhenthebigbeatstartstogo??!!!” Then EVERYTHING ELSE jumps in, shored up by backing vocals, a jerking bass line and ever-steady, cymbal-less drums. But Seger’s vocals need no help as he’s on a yelping train to soulsville and damn the consequences. Oh, it’s explosive, durty and sweaty Dee-troit R&B; like a set of Mitch Ryder’s stolen hubcaps but polished up into a storming assault onto both pelvis and central nervous system for all it’s worth. And when he sings “Because the bottom’s coming on so strong” you think he’s singing about your own as it immediately bumps and grinds to this infectious (yeah, I hate using this term for a good dance record, too but when Seger grizzly-growls “Don’t you ever feel like going insane?!?!” you’re already on the floor) number.

But it’s not over yet. A different take continues on the flip, and sees Seger going completely bonkers. As well he should, because it’s about as manically sung as it is tight -- the rhythm giving the pelvis nuthin’ but delight and the monotone backing vocals do a steady, weather-report-reading of “Heavy music...heavy music...heavy music...” in an interesting and effective counterbalance as the whole thing heads to another volcanic eruption and Seger loses it all completely. Aside from the soulspeak-stutter of “Oh, yeah...c’mon with me, babe... Oowww! Gotta...gotta... (HUH!) Gotta...gotta...” he adds a laundry list of who he’s currently over-achieving: “SRC, Stevie Winwood got nuthin’ on me!!” which for 1967 wuz a pretty big claim, indeed. But rightly staked, as Bob’s going even more nuts here, shrieking “DEEPER! DEEPER! DEEPER!” in cadence with the almost bored-sounding backing vocalists (who sound totally removed from the outright heat of it all: content to sound like they’re reading the lyrics off a music stand, scale-paid and sedate.) But it makes for a hilarious contrast of emotions all the same, as Seger’s nothing but a total wild man of emotion here. So much so that uptight and rigid programme directors of the time voiced both worry and displeasure at the sexual connotations of this frenzied 2-parter.

“Heavy Music” sexual?
Hahahahahaha...Oh, that’s a good one. Since when was dance music ever about sex?
(Well...er...always. Come to think of it.)

And especially this one, seeing as the lead vocalist is going RED in the fucking face shrieking “DEEPER!! DEEPER!! DEEPER!!! DEEPER!!!!” for a good many seconds before the fade, like he’s burrowing into the deepest vein of the Motherlode for all it’s worth.

The only downside to this track was that Cameo-Parkway went bankrupt just as “Heavy Music” began doing a brisk trade on Detroit regional charts. It could’ve been massive. But when Seger flew out to their New York offices, he was met only with a locked door and a nearby janitor informing him that they were gone.

Seger would return with a lineup plucked from The Last Heard in The Bob Seger System, and many times his redoubtable, grizzled voice would see him weather many stylistic shifts in popular music. But before all that, this last single by Bob Seger & The Last Heard should be heard first before resigning Bob Seger to roots no deeper than his latter-day Mega-Bucks “Risky Business” and truck commercial soundtracking. Because he had sweat to spare and sung from his bollocks like nobody else. Repeat after me: