Beautiful Loser, issued in April of 1975, was the eighth studio album released by Bob Seger. While it would only be a minor national hit, reaching 131 on the Billboard charts, it would have many of the ingredients in place which would propel him to stardom during the next two years. As his reputation grew, so would the sales of this release, and over time it would sell two million copies.
Bob Seger had been a journeyman rocker for a decade. He was wildly popular in the Detroit area but nowhere else. All that was about to change. He had learned his craft well as his live shows were energetic and his ability to write songs and produce an album had improved dramatically over the years.
He was finally relying upon his own material as eight of the nine tracks are original compositions and several are first rate. Five of the tracks would quickly reappear a year later on his Live Bullet album.
“Katmandu” and the only cover song, “Nutbush City Limits,” are high fueled rock ‘n’ roll at its best. His sound would quickly become more polished but not necessarily any better than these two raw rockers. “Katmandu” has a rockabilly feel as he gallops through the song at a frenetic pace. “Nutbush City Limits” rivals Tina Turner’s well known version. Both would take on new life in live versions a year later.
The title song was a smooth mid-tempo type ballad with a sax and piano paving the way. This was the type of song and sound that would serve him so well in the future. “Travelin’ Man” was another road ode by an artist who lived on the concert circuit. These two songs would appear back to back on Live Bullet and were transformed from very good to excellent. While these live versions may be definitive, it is still interesting and worthwhile to hear the original studio versions.
“Jody Girl” is one of the great forgotten creations in his vast catalogue of memorable songs. It is an acoustic and sad ballad that rivaled anything he would produce. The final track, “Fine Memory,” is another introspective ballad and is just a cut below the first.
While such songs as “Black Night,” “Momma,” and “Sailing Nights” may not be of the quality of those already mentioned, they still are listenable.
Beautiful Loser would be Bob Seger’s steeping stone to stardom which would eventually lead him to The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. A number of the songs are equal to much of what he would release on that journey and are well worth a listen.