If you had told me ten year ago, that I would have put so much time and effort into tracking down Bob Seger albums, I would have laughed like a maniac. I mean come on. First, Bob Seger and his Silver Bullets are okay. They have some decent hits, but not anything that I would throw on my turntable to listen to willingly. I mean if they came on the radio, I might leave the song playing. Secondly, Seger’s albums are everywhere. You can find them in any antique store in a dollar bin. I was so fucking wrong though. What most people don’t know, excluding the most obsessive record nerds out there, is that Seger had a career before The Silver Bullet Band. He was a member of The Herd, The Seger System, and a solo artist. His first seven albums are unlike anything you would ever expect from Seger. They range from psychedelic to raw folk to hard driving Detroit rock to Cajun boogie. Hell, did you know that Seger wrote “Rosalie,” which was made famous be Thin Lizzy? I had no idea until I tracked down a copy of Seger’s Back in 72.
At a record fair a few years back, a seller convince me to buy three of these early Seger albums including Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man, Noah, and Brand New Morning. Upon listening to Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man, I was blown away. The only song I even recognized was the title track, and I only recognized from a live version on one of the Silver Bullets live albums. The studio version is an early Detroit garage rock masterpiece. The drums pound over the top of a funky organ. Like I said, nothing I would ever expect from Seger. In fact, Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man is like nothing you can picture. The songs have elements of folk, blues, and straight ahead rock, but it’s all tied together with a psychedelic bow. It’s easy to tell that the band is young, hungry, and full of energy. “Tales of Lucy Blue” is a strung out jam with fuzzy psych guitar spreading out on top. “Ivory” is a Motown-esq jam where Seger’s vocals really get a chance to shine. “2+2=?” is an antiwar jam in the vein of Credence Clearwater. The album is full of tracks that would surprise even the most diehard Seger fan. The one factor that never changes through Seger’s career is his voice. The guy has a powerhouse voice, and that voice is only stronger on his early works.
The craziest thing about these early Seger albums is not that they exist. It is that Seger hates these albums. He hates them with a passion, and he has even been quoted as saying that the only copies he owns are buried in his backyard. He has refused to officially release any of them on CD. This means the only place you can find them is on vinyl. There is an upside to this for vinyl fans though. When you listen to these early Seger albums, you take them in as a whole work. When taken as a whole work, you’ll quickly realize all the genius that went into making these albums. The downside is that some sellers have really jacked the prices up. I have seen Noah and Brand New Morning go for as much as $100 apiece. On the other hand though, you can pick up Smokin’ O.P.’s and Mongrel for about $10 each. You’ll want to start with Ramblin’ Gamblin Man though which will run you between $15 and $30. The cover is of a blonde haired woman in a blue dress standing on blue chunk of ice in a blue sea. It’s obvious that the title of the album was originally supposed to be named Tales of Lucy Blue, but they decided to name it after the stronger track.