A fantastic feature on NPR recently set classic rock fans’ hearts aflutter with a serious deep dive on Bob Seger, whose catalogue is famously absent from much of the digital music space. His classic albums were belatedly issued on iTunes several years ago, don’t exist on streaming services, and are even disappearing from record stores (other than, perhaps, 1994’s Greatest Hits album, the best-selling catalogue title of the 2000s, or the more recent Ultimate Hits: Rock and Roll Never Forgets).
How ironic, then, that Jack White’s vinyl-enthusiast label is issuing a rare early Seger single for this year’s Record Store Day festivities! Third Man Records will reissue Seger’s first single, “2 + 2 = ?,” on 45 RPM yellow vinyl. Credited to “The Bob Seger System,” this first single from the 1969 album Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man was a hit in Seger’s native Detroit when it was released a year ahead of the LP, but ignored by mainstream audiences. (However, the title track of the album became a Top 20 pop hit.)
But “2 + 2 = ?” has a special connection to White, who once called it his famous song. And a finely-tuned ear won’t have to go far to notice the similarities between the Seger tune and “Seven Nation Army,” one of the best-known tunes by White’s breakthrough band, The White Stripes.
Remastered from the original analog tapes by Robert Vosgien, cut by Ron McMaster at Capitol Mastering and pressed at Third Man’s new plant in, appropriately enough, Detroit, “2 + 2 = ?” (backed with “Ivory” from the same album and packed in a replica of the original European single sleeve) will be available at Record Store Day participants on April 22, with a general black vinyl release following shortly thereafter.