Ramblin' Gamblin' Man

Bob Seger System

Capitol Records, 1968


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


(Editor's Note: This was actually the first review written for "The Daily Vault" - that is, until we discovered we were actually ready to launch ahead of schedule.)

Before "Old Time Rock And Roll"... before "Night Moves"... before "Beautiful Loser"... there was Ramblin' Gamblin' Man.

The album gave Seger and his band an early taste of success with the title track, a foot-stomping classic you can occasionally still hear on oldies radio stations. Unfortunately for Seger, it would be many more albums before he would see success again, with his "last-ditch" effort, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Beautiful Loser.

The album was originally to be called Tales Of Lucy Blue, the name of the second track on the album. Good idea that Seger and the band changed their minds; the track is marginally listenable, while "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man," despite being a one chord-progression song, is catchy. (The liner notes state Seger realized "Lucy Blue is Ramblin' Gamblin' Man". What the hell is that supposed to mean, Bob?)

But this isn't even the best track on the album. That distinction belongs to "2 + 2 = ?," a raucous number featuring frantic bass work from Dan Honaker and drums by Pep Perrine. In fact, this seems like the only time the band is allowed to cut loose and let the creative juices fly.

The remainder of the album is a mixture of low-key blues and psychadelic nostalgia that sounds incredibly dated today. It's interesting that on the song "Ivory," Seger's wails occasionally sound like AC/DC's Brian Johnson. But the sad fact is this album hasn't aged very gracefully. The newness of the band is evident by the uneven starts and stops on songs like "Down Home." This was a band that was still jelling together as a group, and wasn't completely in sync with each other yet.

Seger is the definite leader of the band, acting not only as lead throat, but also as principal guitarist and keyboard player. It's interesting, then, that he didn't play keyboards, the instrument he's best known for, on his first hit. (That distinction belongs to Bob Schultz.)

The album is pure power-60's pop, with over half the tracks on the album clocking in at under three minutes, and two over five minutes. The album is less than 40 minutes long, but at times, it seems like an eternity, while the time flies on the good tracks. But isn't that always the case?

Ramblin' Gamblin' Man is, at the least, an interesting historical portrait of the young Seger's first efforts. But it was by no means a portrait of what was to come out of him musically. This is one for the collectors and diehard Seger fans.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol Records, and is used for informational purposes only.