The Promise by Mitch Ryder

January 31, 2012

Mitch Ryder, born in 1945, has been rocking for almost 50 years. Born William Levise, Jr. in Detroit, Michigan, he began performing while still a teenager. His early band, The Rivieras, caught the attention of legendary producer Bob Crewe who moved the group to New York City. A name change was necessary because there was a band of the same name and a national hit with “California Sun,” so Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels were born.

From 1965-1967, Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels produced some of the better rock singles of the decade. Songs such as “Jenny Take A Ride,” “Little Latin Lupe Lu,” “Devil With The Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly,” “Sock It To Me Baby,” and “Too Many Fish In The Sea” were high-octane, up-tempo rock ‘n’ roll classics, propelled by Ryder’s powerful voice. His career took a downturn during the late ’60s when he released a number of pop songs, but he made a comeback with a trio of excellent, if under-appreciated, hard rock albums, How I Spent My Vacation (1979), Naked But Not Dead (1980) and Never Kick A Sleeping Dog (1983).

He has built a loyal following in Europe where he has issued a number of albums down through the years. Next month will find him releasing his 2009 European LP, Detroit Ain’t Dead Yet (The Promise), in the States. Now titled simply The Promise, it is Ryder’s first exclusively U.S. release of new material in 30 years.

The album was produced by Don Was and its core musicians include keyboardist Jamie Mahuberac, bassist Reggie McBride, guitarist Randy Jacobs, and drummer James Gadsen.

The music travels a more eclectic path than one would expect from this veteran rocker. Soul, slower-tempo material, and confessional songs share space with his usual brand of rock ‘n’ roll. He gives a soulful performance on the title track. “Junkie Love” is a stark and raw look at his drug addiction days. “My Heart Belongs To You” glides into a funky and smooth groove. He even goes in a Latin direction with “Let’s Keep Dancing,” which has a tango beat.

When Ryder decides to rock, he remains one of the best in the business. “The Way We Were” may contain lyrics about society’s ills but it rocks hard throughout as does “One Hair,” “Crazy Beautiful,” and “Everybody Loses.”

The Promise is Mitch Ryder’s coming-home party. It’s a solid album that proves the 66-year-old is still an energetic, relevant artist.

Article first published as Music Review: Mitch Ryder – The Promise on Blogcritics.

Little Latin Lupe Lu by Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels

January 8, 2012

Mitch Ryder’s version of “”Little Latin Lupe Lu” was competent rock ‘n’ roll but not one of his better efforts.

The song was written by Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers whose version was their first chart entry reaching number 49 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart during 1963. Mitch Ryder released the song as a single, March 5, 1966, and it rose to number 17.

My favorite version was released by The Kingsmen during 1964, It reached number 46. Still, Ryder’s version was released during the period of time, 1965-1967, when he was one of the better straight forward rock artists working.

Too Many Fishes In The Sea 45 by Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels

August 18, 2011

“Too Many Fish In The Sea” was Mitch Ryder’s last hit with the Detroit Wheels before going solo. It was another frenetic rocker similar to “Devil With The Blue Dress On.”

Released April 29, 1967, it reached number 24 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart. The full title was “Too Many Fish In The Sea & Three Little Fishes.” Three LLittle fishes was a song from the big band era.

His solo career went in a pop direction soon after this hit, leaving behind some of the best rock singles of the 1960s.

Sock It To Me Baby 45 by Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels

February 7, 2011

Mitch Ryder is primarily remembered for his booming voice which produced several larger than life singles during the mid to late 1960’s. A switch to lightweight pop killed his commercial career although his return to rock ‘n’ roll in the 70’s produced some excellent rock albums.

“Sock It To Me Baby” was released Feb. 4, 1967 and became his second biggest hit reaching number 6 on The BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Chart.

If you like high octane rock ‘n’ roll, this is a song for you. His backing group, The Detroit Wheels, was one of the better bands of the mid-sixties.

Now in his mid-sixties, Ryder still lives in the Detroit area and continues to tour extensively in The United States and Europe.

Devil With The Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly 45 by Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels

July 8, 2009

When Mitch Ryder was in the mood he could deliver rock ‘n’ roll that was as high octane as any active artist in the mid to late sixties. His Detroit Wheels were a solid backing band that could support his over the top vocal style.

“Devil With The Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly” is just about the perfect rock medley as it just blasts out of the speakers. Organ and drums drive the song along as Ryder’s huge vocal style puts the song across. If you like up-tempo, then you will love this song. It would be his biggest hit as it would reach number four on the National charts. He would have two more top ten hits in the 1960’s with “Sock It To Me Baby” and Jenny Take A Ride.”

In one of the worst career decisions on record he would try to re-invent himself as a pop artist in the 1970’s. Such songs as “What Now My Love” and “(You’ve Got) Personality” were terrible and just did not fit his style. It basically killed his career. While he returned in the 1980’s with a series of excellent rock albums he was never able to regain his 60’s popularity. I saw Mitch Ryder in concert in the early nineties and the man could still rock.

“Devil With The Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly” remains one of his shining moments. I would recommend any of his greatest hits compilations as they present him and sixties rock ‘n’ roll at its best.840i