Every so often I Google just to see if he’s still out there, rockin’.
He was in the 60s.
He was in the 70s.
He was in the 80s.
He was in the 90s.
He was in the 00’s.
And he was just in Germany doing it again.
Still alive and well.
This isn’t the first time I’ve used that headline in 2009 – a live album recorded in the United States (Live in America) was released earlier this year. Hard to find, but extremely worthy.
Later this year – maybe even later this week – a new studio album recorded with Don Was at the controls will be released throughout the world. Originally titled The Promise, then later mis-titled You’re Nuts, Both of Them; it now appears that his first domestic studio release in nearly twenty-seven years will be called Detroit Ain’t Dead Yet. More here.
I’ve expounded on the legend and legacy that is Mitch Ryder before in these pages, so I won’t waste your time rehashing the same praises. I’m just thrilled that (1) the guy is still out there creating great music, and (2) his voice might be even better now. One listen to the recent You Deserve My Art or The Acquitted Idiot should prove that point.
So celebrate a true superstar of rock’n’roll. And if you’ve missed his post-60s career…boy, do you have a wealth of great music to catch up on.
Read my full review in PopMatters.
It’s only appropriate that the band plays the theme from The Godfather before Mitch Ryder takes the stage. After all, Mitch is the Godfather of Detroit Rock’n’Roll. On this new live album, Ryder and the current version of the Detroit Wheels prove that Ryder is still a vital force forty years after smashing through transistor radio speakers with hits like “Sock It To Me”, “Jenny Take a Ride”, Little Latin Lupe Lu” and “Devil With a Blue Dress On”.
The Mitch Ryder experience that America gets these days is a lot different from what the Eurpoean audiences enjoy. Across the pond Ryder is still viewed as a creative force and he’s released several albums. He usually tours with a different band (most recently Engerling) and plays a more diverse setlist that features newer music. Here in America, thanks to clueless radio programming, there’s no room to enjoy these treasures, so the set is mostly recognizable hits. To his credit, Ryder does not shortchange the fans just because the media doesn’t respect him. He always has a great band, plays a lengthy set, and will slip in a couple of great non-hits inbetween the ringers.
This set was recorded in Las Vegas in 2008 and the sound is phenomenal; editing mixes the audience down and trims the between song pauses to a minimum. The 2008 version of The Detroit Wheels are mostly younger Michigan guys – some played with Uncle Kracker – but the band is airtight and Ryder is in great voice. In addition to the aforementioned major Wheels hits, highlights include the Prince cover “When You Were Mine”, an extended version of “Gimme Shelter” (featuring a tasty Stones medley intro on piano by Patrick Harwood), and a swinging version of “C’est La Vie”. And, of course, his version of Lou Reed‘s Rock And Roll has been the definitive arrangement since he cut it with the band Detroit in 1970.
Ryder not only has another live album coming out in Germany (Air Harmonie, on the BuschFunk label) but also has recently completed The Promise with producer Don Was, which will hopefully be his first American release since 1983’s Never Kick A Sleeping Dog. Ryder just turned 64 years old but sounds like a man half that age; he’s still one of the very best vocalists in the history of rock’n’roll.