Growing up in Michigan, I developed a very real hatred for Mr. Seger’s music at a young age. Very few things can instill a rage in me with such quickness as the opening bars to “Turn the Page” or “Katmandu.” Was it the fact that these songs were played too much on our local classic rock stations? Nahh, it’s just that Seger’s music is grey, dreary, boring, country-fried blues rock. There isn’t a single redeeming quality I can pick out of Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet band’s oeuvre.
It’s not surprising to me that Seger has basically disowned his early music. Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man is a diamond in the rough. A psychedelic heavy rock and soul album his first fronted group released in 1968 to moderate success. Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man surprised the hell out of me when I first heard it. It is raw, in the best way possible. The three, sometimes four piece group covers a lot of ground in the album’s short run time. From the Motown pop of the title track to the psychedelic stomp of “White Walls” there aren’t many dull moments on Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man. Seger’s soulful (for a white boy out of Ann Arbor) vocals are the hardest sell but the weighty instrumentation gives the album that great Michigan gutter-rock feel.
The rest is history, sort of. Seger had skipped out on a potentially enriching Motown deal to sign to Columbia for the Bob Seger System’s three albums. After struggling for artistic control following the moderate success of Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man in the years following, Seger disbanded the System to pursue a path in the boring radio trash most people are familiar with. Still, Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man deserves recognition for being a powerful psychedelic rock record that very much represents its time and place.
Bob, I would have never believed you had it in you.