Rebel Soul
Kid Rock
2012

I first encountered Kid Rock when Devil Without a Cause (1998) served up two mega-hits, “Bawitdaba” and “Cowboy,” both of which are totally awesome if you’re a teenager and clueless. I thought of him again in 2004, when my boss at the time and his wife went to a Kid Rock concert. After the show they were invited backstage, where they persuaded Mr. Rock to autograph Mrs. Boss’ ass. The next day at work, Mr. Boss proudly shared photos of this historic event. His wife had a nice ass.

I’d rather contemplate derrière marketing than Kid Rock, one of an octet of prominent male musicians who enjoy wearing stupid hats. The other seven are:

santana
Santana

costello
Elvis Costello

dylan
Bob Dylan

jack and edge
Jack White (left) and The Edge (right)

buckethead
Buckethead

deadmau5
and Deadmau5.

Honorable Mention, Bandana Division:

Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band Perform On "Today"
Miami Steve.

(The hatless gentlemen are Jimmy Page and guess who.)

But when The New Yorker profiled Kid Rock, I knew it was time to turn my attention his way again. From the pages of my favorite magazine (Model Railroader is the runner-up) I learned that KR is a white boy who started with rap but transformed himself into a rocker who loves Motown, Mitch Ryder, ’70s arena rock, Hank Williams, and outlaw country. His new album, Rebel Soul, was available for a free listen on Rhapsody, and as the operative word here was “free,” I took it out for a spin.

The results: Mixed!

You can’t charge Kid Rock with not knowing his history – the man vacuums up music like Beck or Prince. “Detroit, Michigan” appropriates the guitar line from Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” and threatens at times to burst into Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock ’n Roll.” The foot-tapping “Celebrate” has the same drive as “Ballroom Blitz” without the dopey speaking parts and with a big ’70s guitar hook I can’t identify. The jaunty “Redneck Paradise” could almost be “Werewolves of London,” a song KR digs – he mashes it up with “Sweet Home Alabama” on “All Summer Long” (Rock n Roll Jesus, 2007).

Let’s be thankful that Kid Rock never imprinted on Chicago or Men Without Hats. It’s bad enough that for one frightening moment on “Cocaine and Gin” I thought I was about to hear Don Henley sing “The Last Resort.”

The album’s highlight was “Cucci Galore.” Ladies and gentlemen, this is the song Kid Rock was born to write. It’s a no-holds-barred study of the Playboy Mansion, in which KR deftly rhymes “edible bikinis” with “chocolate martinis.” “Cucci Galore” is by far the most interesting song on Rebel Soul. Musically, it’s an exciting blend of hip hop and hard rock. Also, KR genuinely cares about Playmates in their natural habitat, more than he does about any of his Dukes of Hazzard preoccupations. I give him points for his sincerity and his musical eclecticism, but I’m taking them all away for the dumbass lyrics.

Consumer report
You can dance to some of Rebel Soul, you can skip the country tracks, and it rocks in several places, though you’ve heard rockers like these a million times, often from the band that played your employer’s holiday party. Kid Rock surprised me – he can do a lot of what AC/DC, Bad Company, Humble Pie, The Cult, Bob Seger, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Black Crowes, Stone Temple Pilots, Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club can do, not as well but sometimes not far off. While that’s an impressive entry on anyone’s résumé, I’m not giving him the green light to autograph Special D.

I’m not going to replay Rebel Soul. Nor will I kill time with lengthy celebrity profiles in The New Yorker when I should be writing my novel. But no way am I skipping this:

MR The Sex Issue

 

Comments
  1. Michael Eichner says:

    The kids at work got me to listen to “All Summer Long.” They thought it was original. You say mash up, I say rip off. But, as you point out, KR knows his music history. He also knows his marketing. Those kids who do not know history are destined to press repeat – all summer long.

  2. Number 9 says:

    Yeah, that was the best issue of Model Railroader ever. Kid who?

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