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Mitch Ryder

Christmas (Take a Ride)

Review by Gary Hill

Mitch Ryder has just unleashed a brand new holiday album. It's quite a successful one. Sure, there are a couple tracks that perhaps don't work as well as the rest, but overall, this is entertaining. It deserves a spot in family holiday rotations all over. While there is some old-school rock and roll at the heart of a lot of this, the predominate sound is probably a Motown soulful groove. This is just great fun from start to finish.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 6. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2018.

Track by Track Review
What Christmas Means to Me
There is a cool soulful rock groove here. This has a lot of holiday spirit and a real spirit of fun. The horns and backing vocals bring a real Motown vibe to the cut.
Blue Christmas
Elvis is a big part of this tune, but overall it's just more about the 1950s rock and roll groove than it is about that one man. I love the saxophone fills on this. They are so retro in style and tone.
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
We're back into Motown here. This soulful number feels a lot like something that would have come from the classic era of that label.
Someday at Christmas
A mellower tune, this has an intriguing arrangement with lots of layers adding to the holiday magic. That said, I'm not sold on the vocal performance here. It's a bit too gritty for the song. Of course, your mileage may vary.
Jingle Bell Rock
This rock and roll holiday classic gets a pretty strong, but unsurprising, rendition. It's just what you expect of this cut. Still, it's delivered with style and works well.
Santa Claus
Now this has a killer fuzz-driven hard rocking sound. It's set in sort of a psychedelic rock meets MC5 kind of sound. It's one of my favorites here, and just really works so well.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
The old school rock and roll sounds on this are just about perfect. I love the guitar sound, and the whole tune is just particularly effective.
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
Not a big surprise, this is just an effective rendition of this classic holiday song.
Sleigh Ride
A bouncy little rocker, this is a lot of fun. It has some cool horns and is another highlight of the set.
Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer
While this rendition of the cut is competent, it doesn't really take any chances. Beyond that, I have to wonder if this song should be covered at all. I mean, it's more of a novelty song than it is a holiday classic. It's fun, but do we really need more versions of it. Still, I do like the saxophone bits on this.
Let It Snow
This song gets some old time rock and roll merged with more traditional jazzy arrangement. It's a nice bit of variety. Perhaps it's not completely successful, but it works well enough.
Put a Little Love in Your Heart
We're back into full Motown sound for this number. It's energetic, soulful and quite cool.
 
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