Gambling is such a widespread activity that you would think that there would be an endless chasm filled with songs that have it as a central theme. Well, to my surprise, it’s not so. It seems that gambling served more as an inspiration to country singers and bluesmen of yesteryear. In the post-1970s era, the influx of gambling-associated songs seems to have slowly dried up.
Which is weird, given that if you check google for annual gambling revenues, they seem to go up each year, for both land-based and digital establishments. If people, musicians included, are doing more and more gambling, why aren’t they exploiting this activity that is a roller coaster of emotion in their music, which is also all about feelings?
Maybe, it’s because online casinos like www.novibet.co.uk are slowly taking over the industry. And the ease of use they provide doesn’t seem as fascinating as gambling in a shed in Mississippi did to folk artists back in the day. Though, the experience is unmatched. They couldn’t choose from thousands of slot games, win progressive jackpots in free spin rounds, and play skill-based mini-games. Or get dealt a hand of blackjack from a dealer on the other side of the globe and win life-altering sums.
So, it wasn’t easy to take a deep dive and try to locate gambling music that’s in some way associated with the progressive rock genre, but I managed to squeeze out a few examples.
The Turn of a Friendly Card
Here’s part of an album instead of just a song. It’s the fifth one from The Alan Parsons Project, released in 1980. This second side of this two-sided LP tells the tale of a middle-aged man who visits a casino where he proceeds to bet it all and lose it all. It’s broken down into five sub-tracks and spawned the hits “Time” and “Games People Play”.
Death Is a Great Gambler
Okay, now here’s a full album from German band Coupla Prog. The band only existed for roughly seven years and they reached their peak in the early 1970s. After the death of member Rolf Peter, due to a drug overdose, they decided to commemorate the loss by writing and recording – “Death Is A Great Gambler but If I Win, Finally I Can Die”.
Youngsters might not know who Wishbone Ash is, but this British band had its run in the mid-1970s. In 1977 they released their eighth album – Front Page News, which was a departure from their previous releases, featuring mostly soft ballads. It peaked at No. 31 in the UK Albums Charts, and featured the song – “Diamond Jack”. The last one on side two.
Upper Sixth Loan Shark
Many still wonder why isn’t Jethro Tull in the rock & roll hall of fame? It’s known that progressive rock bands don’t have a great track record with it comes to joining the illustrious society, even though they’ve been eligible since 1993. However, Ian Anderson is good-enough to grace my list, as he makes it with this solo effort.