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Album Review

Around the time the Charlie Daniels Band recorded the music that became 1976's Saddle Tramp, the group was experiencing its first wave of success, as both Fire on the Mountain and Nightrider found an audience, and the group became known for their live performances, particularly through Daniels' Volunteer Jams concerts. Saddle Tramp rode this momentum into the country Top Ten and a gold album — all without a Top Ten country single, it should be noted. That's because the Charlie Daniels Band turned into the country equivalent of a radio-oriented rock band, where singles were less important than a unified whole of an album, which sought to replicate the feel of live performances. Since the CDB was a country band, that meant that they had less of a theme to tie together their records — not even to the extent that the Grateful Dead did on Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, two records whose influence is felt on Saddle Tramp. Instead, the band cut seven songs, sometimes stretching out and jamming for a long, long time, other times focusing that energy into a three- or four-minute song. So, Saddle Tramp becomes about the texture and feel of the performances more than the songs, which makes it a quintessential jam record, complete with the flaw of putting a ten-minute title track as the second song, thereby killing any forward momentum the album had. It's a good jam, and it shows that the CDB was a vigorous, muscular band capable of shifting styles and tones easily and gracefully; it would have worked better at the end of the album, where it would have summarized the rest of the record and how it touches on cowboy music, bluegrass, blues, hillbilly, and swinging jazz in equal measure. Arriving so early in the record signals that this is a jam record for jam fans, and on that level, it works very well, since it does showcase the band at a near-peak of its talents. But, like many other jam records, Saddle Tramp winds up not being about the songs (which, apart from the single "Wichita Jail," aren't particularly memorable), but being about the feel of the music and the sound of the band, which can make for good listening, provided that's what you're looking to hear.

Customer Reviews

Another Itunes BAD DEAL

Itunes does it again the song most people want Saddle Tramp is available on "ablum only" SHAME ON YOU itunes why do you do that? Aren't you making enough money off us already? Why not make all songs available on all your albums?Try making your coustomers happy not mad. That would be good bussiness.

Under rated unknown lost but not forgotten

This is a good work by the Charlie Daniels Band yet had very little mass appeal. For the true audiofile who like all genres of music this album is a good staple to their library. It will never rate with the mass appeal of today's pop country. However, it has a good traditional country flavor mixed with a little down home blues and a splash of jazz (It's my life). The album as a whole is very simple and takes me back to the roots of a simpler style of country without all the glitz of today's over rated mass produced country music. An album for those who appriciate the simpler things and not for the mass audience.

Short but Sweet(water)

Saddle Tramp is only seven songs, but together they form a dynamic sound that cannot be found in today's country music. The hidden gem on this album is Sweetwater, Texas, a soulful, mournful ode to appreciating what you have, instead of looking for something else you think is better. The steel guitar solo on Sweetwater I believe is by Toy Caldwell, the distinctive steeler who brought “Fire on the Mountain” to life in his Marshall Tucker Band. Buy it. Listen to it. Drink to it. Cry to it. And then you won't forget it.


Born: October 28, 1936 in Wilmington, NC

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A talented and showy fiddler, Charlie Daniels and his band fuse hardcore country with a hard-edged Southern rock, boogie, and blues. The group — which has had a rotating cast of musicians over the years — has always been known for its instrumental dexterity, but Daniels and company were also notorious for their down-home, good-old-boy attitude; in the early '80s, they became a virtual symbol of conservative country values. Daniels and his band experienced the height of their popularity...
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