Mitch Ryder is rightly revered for his mid-'60s hits "Jenny Take a Ride," Little Latin Lupe Lu," "Devil with a Blues Dress On," and "Sock It to Me Baby," as well as his band the Detroit Wheels' 1971 cover of Lou Reed's "Rock 'n Roll" that obliterated the original and became the definitive version. Since that time, Ryder has continued working. He issued a killer hard rock trilogy -- How I Spent My Vacation (1979), Naked But Not Dead (1980), and Never Kick a Sleeping Dog (1983).
When Mitch Ryder growls out the line “Thank you, mama, everything you said came true,” on opening track “Thank You, Mama” it is more than clear that the Detroit rock ‘n’ roll legend’s first album of new material in 30 years is going to be a personal affair. Over a bubbling bass line and dirty guitars, the track serves both as a tribute to his beloved parents and an instant reminder to listeners of why kids were flipping out to “Devil with a Blue Dress On” in high school gymnasiums across the country nearly 50 years ago. “Comeback” albums or an aging artist’s late-period work are always polarizing topics of discussion in terms of importance and quality.
On his new album, Detroit Ain’t Dead Yet (The Promise), Mitch Ryder sings, “when I was a young boy I was always wasting time.” But his memory may be slipping in his old age—when he was younger he hardly wasted a moment. Coming up in the mid-‘60s with his band the Detroit Wheels, Ryder blew through a hybrid of blues, soul, and rock and roll, often at a blistering pace. Like many ‘60s bands (the Beatles and the Rolling Stones come to mind), he started out almost exclusively covering blues and soul hits: songs like Wilson Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour”, Stax stalwart Rufus Thomas’s “Walking the Dog”, Sam Cooke’s “Bring It on Home to Me”.
Long time Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ mainstay Kinney has crafted a productive if not particularly commercially successful solo career away from the veteran Southern hard rockers. Now ensconced in New York City, Kinney joined with Anton Fier and his loose knit Golden Palominos collective (Fier produced some D N C albums) for this typically rollicking, thinking man’s hour long set that is one of the highlights of his bulging catalog. Kinney never phones it in but he’s clearly inspired by Fier and his cohorts.