Beautiful Loser

Bob Seger

Capitol Records, 1975

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Early on in his career, Bob Seger looked like he would have the world by a string. His first album, Ramblin' Gamblin' Man, brought him early fame and success. However, subsequent efforts failed to do as well, and Seger was on the brink of leaving the music industry completely.

In 1975, he gave it one last chance with Beautiful Loser, an album he poured his heart out on, figuring he would never get this type of an opportunity again. Much to people's surprise, listeners connected with the album, and Seger again had achieved some semblance of fame, eventually leading to superstardom with his backing group the Silver Buller Band.

Listening to this album 23 years after it came out, one can hear both a sense of desparation in the music, as well as an acceptance of the possibility of failure in the music. It was almost as if Seger was expecting the worst, and decided to put his whole being and emotions into many of the songs. In some cases, it worked, though the album begins to lose steam near the end.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The title track seems to say the most about the situation, almost as if Seger is taking on the role of the title character. The track (often paired with "Travellin' Man" when performed live), is a powerful autobiographical tale that still is amazing to listen to. And, when "Travellin' Man" is listened to, one can understand how these two songs can easily be paired together.

The true feelings that Seger had can be heard on the song "Katmandu," one of the hits off of Beautiful Loser. Although he goes through a listing of all the benefits of each area of the country, he seems to be ready to leave the U.S., declaring, "Nobody here loves me, anyway." I honestly don't think I've heard a more telling lyric than those words regarding a person's anger at a situation - and it still is poignant today.

The remainder of Beautiful Loser is comprised of the rockers and ballads that would eventually make Seger a superstar. The rockers ("Black Night," "Nutbush City Limite") are for the most part solid, though the ballads are a little more hit-and-miss. Cuts like "Jody Girl" and "Momma" are interesting experiments for Seger, while the album's closers "Sailing Nights" and "Fine Memory" just don't fly that well.

The whole album is a very short listen - only 33 minutes in length - but the overall emotion and power that Seger packs into that short a time is enough to give the listener reason to think. One has to wonder what would have happened with Seger had Beautiful Loser not been the success it was. Something tells me that Seger would still have slugged it out, even if it was only on the bar circuits - I think the rock was too much in his blood. But there's no denying that this album is both one of the angriest and the saddest the rock world has ever seen.

Even with the few minor mistakes on it, Beautiful Loser is an album that defined Seger's future as a musician, and paved the way for many of the songs we all know and love. While this isn't one of the easiest listens you'll ever experience in Seger's catalog, it is one that could be called required listening.


Rating: B-

User Rating: B-



© 1998 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.