THE ONE AFTER THE BIG ONE: Kid Rock, KID ROCK
Rapper, singer/songwriter, country-funk bandleader, gutter poet, political lightning rod, proud Michigan man – ol’ Bob Ritchie (known by most as Kid Rock) is all of these things, a polymath’s polymath. He can name which breakbeats Jam Master Jay sampled on Run DMC’s KING OF ROCK album and tell you which of David Allan Coe’s profane “underground” records will clear out your party quickest. He might have entered pop culture consciousness telling us to “get in the pit and try to love someone” (“Bawitdaba”’s high-octane pre-chorus), but he had his biggest hit with a country ballad (2002’s “Picture”) and by 2003 was sitting at the intersection of so many genres, one didn’t know in which direction he might go next.
The answer was, “a bunch of them” – the same answer you might give if you were asked which rock or outlaw country record 2003’s KID ROCK sounds like. A bunch of them. Maybe all of them. And that’s not a bad thing, not a complaint. It makes KID ROCK a fun record to put on at a party or a cookout, or to cue up in the car when you have a summer afternoon to kill and no particular place to be.
Do you like Bon Scott-era AC/DC? Kid Rock’s got you covered – cue up “Jackson, Mississippi” to hear riffs that would have fit nicely on LET THERE BE ROCK. Are you a ZZ Top fan? “Hillbilly Stomp” injects some Texas twang and amped-up blues into the proceedings, because if you name a song “Hillbilly Stomp,” that’s what you need to do with it.
You dig Lynyrd Skynyrd? Kid’s take on Coe’s “Son of Detroit” sounds like it could’ve been on the jukebox at one of the Jacksonville dives the mighty Ronnie Van Zant and his merry men might’ve played back in the day. Along those same lines, one of Coe’s outlaw heroes, Waylon Jennings, might’ve put “Cold and Empty” on DREAMING MY DREAMS, had the song been around in 1974 – it’s that kind of proud-yet-heartbroken tune at which Jennings excelled.
Familiar sounds abound in these grooves. There’s a Bad Company cover here – “Feel Like Makin’ Love” – and it’s faithfully rendered and perfectly slotted amongst the other classic-sounding tracks on the record. There’s also a cover you’ve probably never heard – Bob Seger left “Hard Night for Sarah” off AGAINST THE WIND in 1979; Kid Rock picks up the outtake and gives it a very Seger-at-the-piano reading, exactly how Seger might’ve recorded it and exactly what the song’s remorseful look back calls for.
The nods and winks to classic rock, hard rock and country make KID ROCK an enjoyable way to spend an hour, regardless of which genre you’re a fan of. Put it on the next time you want to have a good time and need a soundtrack.
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