Here it is for the first time on vinyl, a little over a decade after the Gamblers’ first CD was released. Nope, rocker, Something to Crow About was not their debut. Fleshies are AC/DC for the weird. Arrivals are the Grand Funk Railroad of punk. (How great would an Arrivals double LP gatefold be, am I right?) The Gamblers are harder to pin down. They’re in this hard rock / punk rock paradox, both a dark matter wormhole and an exploding cosmos of high kicks and spider monkey sweat. If you don’t listen to a single word, don’t digest a single sentiment—just have “rookie sensation” Mike Wiebe’s voice become an adult Peanuts’ wah-wah-wa-wah sound—the high-kneed stomp and gang hand claps conjure up Angus Young, etch S-T-R-U-T right into your brain. The music’s in league with Lee Harvey Oswald Band’s Blastronaut andTurbonegro’s Apocalypse Dudes. Sweating diamonds. Knifey, greasy, let’s have sex music. But the thing is—sue me—I’m a reader. Books and shit. Words mean something to me. And for all the “presto, underpants gone” sound of the Gamblers, there’s this dark undercurrent to the lyrics. Self-effacement, self-doubt, anxiety, and insecurity run rampant through the Gamblers as they shoot confetti to the rafters and burn this stupid place to the ground. And it’s this paradox, that steam piston of rock’n’roll abandon and “I’m fucked. Nobody likes me, myself mostly” Charlie Brownism that keeps me an unabashed Gamblers fan to this day, five albums and the Backsides collection down the road. The Gamblers: Rock’n’roll made in a garage, built for future stadiums. Produced by Tim Kerr. Includes a Ramones cover. Let’s go!
–todd (Recorded Messages, recorded-messages.com)