Review of Kenny Rogers The Gambler

Music Reviews

Review of Kenny Rogers The Gambler
by Charles Dauphin III

Originally released in November 1978,this was the album that more than any other helped to make Kenny Rogers a household name. The cover of the CD inspired Kenny’s longtime manager Ken Kragen to strike up a deal with CBS-TV for a movie of the week,which was the highest rated movie on television in 1980,and also led to several sequels. Dreamcatcher,Kenny’s label is in the process of re-releasing several of his classic 70s and 80s albums…and this is a great place to start. For one,if you have dismissed Kenny as nothing more than a Pop singer who had success as a Country act, this might enlighten you! Rather,this is,in my opinion Rogers’s second best CD ever, the best being the long out-of-print EYES THAT SEE IN THE DARK,and features in addition to “The Gambler” and “She Believes In Me”, possibly the best song Rogers ever cut,”King Of Oak Street”.It’s a little long ( 5:03 ),but one of his all-time best. If you have never heard Kenny’s version of “I Wish That I Could Hurt That Way Again”.  You need to… Keep em’ coming, Dreamcatcher!

Album Stats
11/15/78 – Original Release Date
CMA Album Of The Year
CMA Male Vocalist Of The Year
Grammy: Best Male Country Vocal Performance

Gold Single: “She Believes In Me”
#1 Album Country Charts / #12 Album Pop Charts

Don Schlitz is the man responsible for writing “The Gambler” and “The Greatest,” two of Kenny’s biggest hits. Kenny has joked in recent interviews that every twenty years or so Don writes him a hit song. I am eager to see what the next 20-year milestone hit will be.

“I Wish That I Could Hurt That Way Again” is Kenny at his tender best. I have heard this song thousands of times through the years, and every time I hear is like the first time.

I have always loved “Makin’ Music For Money.” This song is an upbeat slam on the people who are trying to get into the music business for all the wrong reasons. “I won’t make my music for money, I’m going to make my music for me.” Kenny ferociously growls out.

“The Hoodoin’ Of Miss Fanny Deberry” was always one of my favorite tunes. It is too bad that they were not making music videos in the late 1970’s. This is one of those songs that always leaves very vivid images in my head. This is the story of a daughter of a Voodoo witch who just might Hoodoo you if you don’t do her right.

“She Believes In Me” is one of those tunes that always makes me bawl like a baby from the beginning to the end. For those who are not familiar with the song, it’s about a man who is torn between his music and the woman he loves. The woman understands his love for his music and very patiently shares him with his “other love.”

“Tennessee Bottle” is a really good tune that has a Lynyrd Skynyrd/southern rock feel to it.

“Sleep Tight Goodnight Man” is a lullaby/love song type tune for us older people. “The Sand Man told me he’s done all he can. The situation calls for more than sand. You’ve been cryin’ all night long, tossin’ and turnin’. It’s almost dawn. I am here, gonna’ help you sleep, count on me instead of countin’ sheep. Close your eyes and leave the rest to me.” Kenny can come and sing me this lullaby anytime!!!!!

The more I listen to this album, the more I fall in love with it again. I am glad that I have had the chance to re-discover some of these song gems such as “Sleep Tight Goodnight Man” and “San Francisco Mabel Joy.” This is one of those albums that every country music fan needs to have.

Song List

1. The Gambler
2. I Wish That I Could Hurt That Way Again
3. The King Of Oak Street
4. Making Music For Money
5. The Hoodooin’ Of Miss Fannie Deberry
6. She Believes In Me
7. Tennessee Bottle
8. Sleep Tight, Goodnight Man
9. A Little More Like Me (The Crucifixion)
10. San Francisco Mabel Joy
11. Morgana Jones

Additional Info:

The Gambler is Kenny Rogers’ sixth studio album, one of his most popular, released in 1978, proving Rogers’ status as one of the most successful artists of the 1970’s and ’80s, reaching many markets around the world, such as the far east and Jamaica, with Rogers later commenting “when I go to Korea or Hong Kong people say ah, the gambler!” (as per the sleeve notes to the 1998 released box set “Through the years” on Capitol Records). The album; released by United Artists in 1978, has since sold over 35 million copies [1] [2], [3] (see 1978 in country music).

The title track, “The Gambler”, was written by Don Schlitz, who originally recorded it. It was also covered by several other artists, Johnny Cash among them, but neither of these versions were major hits. It was Kenny Rogers’ adaptation of the tale that went on to top the country charts and win a Song of the Year Grammy, later becoming Rogers’ signature song. Both this song and “She Believes in Me” became pop music hits, helping Rogers become well known beyond country music circles. Although largely compiled from songs by some of the music business’s top songwriters, such as Alex Harvey, Mickey Newbury and Steve Gibb, Rogers continued to show his own talent for songwriting with “Morgana Jones”. The album was produced by Larry Butler.

Its popularity has led to many releases over the years. After United Artists was absorbed into EMI/Capitol in 1980, “The Gambler” was reissued on vinyl and cassette on the Liberty Records label. Several years later, Liberty issued an abridged version of the album, removing the track “Morgana Jones”. EMI Manhattan Records released “The Gambler” on CD in the 1980s. An ‘Original Master Recording’ from Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs was released on vinyl (audiophile edition vinyl). Finally, “The Gambler” was released on Rogers’ own Dreamcatcher Records in 2001 as part of the Kenny Rogers “Original Masters Series.”

In Britain both the title cut and the album did very well in the country market, but both failed to reach the top 40 of the pop charts. In the 1980’s the single of “The Gambler” was re-issued and made the top 100 sales list, but again charted outside the top 40. It wasn’t until the song was re-issued in 2007 that it charted at its #22 peak.

Additionally, “I Wish That I Could Hurt That Way Again” was later a single in 1986 for T. Graham Brown, whose version went to #3 on the country charts.

This album has sold 35 million copies world-wide.

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