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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Mitch Ryder

Live At Rockpalast 1979 + 2004

Review by Gary Hill

First off, this is a massive three-CD set. It’s also at times very strong. There are points where Ryder is hard to understand, but those are mostly in the 1979 review. This killer bluesy retro rock and it’s quite strong. I personally think the later performances are the ones I’ll be listening to more often than the earlier ones, but it’s good to have the whole set of shows.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Long Hard Road

The riff that opens this reminds me of the Doobie Brothers’ “China Grove.” It’s a killer rocker with some great instrumental work. At times after the vocals join I’m reminded of Grand Funk Railroad. The slide guitar solo on the outro is great.

War
The riff driving this one makes me think of “Willy and the Hand Jive,” but this is far cooler than that. There’s some definite Allman Brothers influence on some of the guitar solo-infused instrumental movements. There’s almost a Bob Dylan like sound to some of the mellower vocal sections. It gets pretty powerful at times.
Nice'n Easy

I really dig the funky vibe on this thing. It’s a cool track with a lot of energy and charm. There are sections that seem to have some pretty familiar riffs and that Allman Brothers reference shows up at times here, too. This just plain rocks, though. It reminds me at times of White Witch.

CC Rider/Jenny Take a Ride

There’s more of an old school rock and roll vibe on this jam. At times it calls to mind some of the more powerful electrified side of old blues. It’s a nice change of pace and these guys just drive it like crazy.

Ain't Nobody White (Can Sing the Blues)
In some ways this is mellower and more melodic. I really like the slide guitar on the tune, but it’s also not as much of a killer as the music that preceded it.
Devil With a Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly

This medley is purely classic and finds Ryder in fine form. The band jams with passion and style. It’s one of the highlights of the whole set.

Liberty
There’s almost a disco vibe to the rhythm section on this and a lot of funk built into it. I really dig the guitar soloing. Stevie Wonder is actually a valid comparison in some ways. No one would ever accuse this of lacking energy and it really rocks.
Dance Ourselves to Death
With some serious blues in the guitar bits, there’s a rocking Lynyrd Skynyrd kind of feeling to this. The instrumental section on this thing later is among the best musical moments of the set. The guitar screams out as everyone just jams. It’s got Latin and funk elements built into it and yet it is all rock and roll. What a killer groove this turns out to be.
Wicked Messenger

I certainly hear The Allman Brothers on this jam. It’s another strong one.

Rock' n Roll
A classic bluesy rock groove opens this and they build out in fine fashion from there. Another straight ahead rocker, this one calls to mind Grand Funk again. There’s more of a pure R & B or blues vibe here, too, though.
Tough Kid

More like a punky version of George Thorogood, this one’s OK, but not on the same par as the rest of the music on this disc. Still, it has some fiery guitar soloing. Ryder screams the closing vocal bits on this as the band jams like crazy.

True Love

Reggae starts this tune off in style. We get some varying concepts here with the vocals and guitar soloing bringing more real rock to the table.

Soul Kitchen
Coming in with a slow, fairly mellow, bluesy sound, Ryder talks over this backdrop at first. Considering this is a Doors song, that really fits. They work it out from there in fine style, almost feeling like The Doors at times. I like this rendition. Sure, the original is better, but this is quite cool.
Disc 2
Yeah, You Right
Starting slow and a bit laid back, the first vocals come in this way. There’s a bit of a Doors vibe blended with psychedelia and some Americana here. At times when it builds out the vocals seem to channel Jim Morrison. There’s some cool piano soloing as they continue.
From a Buick 6
There’s some blues in this and it rocks out more than the opener did. The Doors are once again a valid reference point. The guitar soloing here is killer. A lot of the cut serves as a showcase for that guitar soloing.
Everybody Loses
Another slow moving cut, this is tastefully bluesy with a lot of rock built into it. The more energized sections of this really call to mind something from Bruce Springsteen.
True Love
Reggae mixed with crunchy guitar driven rock opens this piece, the first repeat from CD one. There’s some killer guitar soloing on this and it rocks out nicely. I think I like this rendition better than the earlier one.
The Porch

This tune is, by design, very much like old school blues. There’s some tasty harmonica playing in place and it really grooves.

Ain't Nobody White (Can Sing the Blues)

Another repeat appearance, again, I’d consider this the superior version. The sound just seems to work better and there’s a great blues turned rocking vibe here. It includes both some smoking hot guitar soloing and great keyboard work.

CC Rider/Jenny Take a Ride

More killer blues rock is featured on this two-fer. It’s got a great groove to it and works quite well. There’s a smoking hot guitar solo built into this, too.
Rock'n Roll
There’s a killer riff driving this and I’d put this one on an even plane with the earlier rendition. It’s great rocker that works quite well. It has tasty guitar soloing and some great retro keyboard sounds. There is an awesome groove to this and a lot of inspired instrumental work.
Freezin' in Hell

The extended introduction to this is killer and quite bluesy. The guitar at times calls to mind the bluesier side of David Gilmour’s work and we get some harmonica in the mix, as well. It drops way down for the first vocals, but retains both the Floydian and blues references. Ryder screams out some of the vocals later in the piece.
Subterranean Homesick Blues
I like this hard rocking rendition of the Bob Dylan tune. Ryder manages to channel Dylan while still bringing in a more rocking flavor. This is a real R & B styled screamer and features some smoking hot guitar soloing. This extended jam also includes harmonica soloing and some killer piano showcasing.
Disc 3
The Terrorist
Some Middle-Eastern elements open this song, but then it works out to a groove that’s rather lounge lizard like. There’s a nasty bit of feedback at one point here, but this cut represents both a nice change of pace a cool tune.
Red Scar Eyes
Piano solos for roughly the first three minutes of this song. Then the guitar joins and the two seem to dance around one another for a time. They seem to challenge each other to greater heights. The whole process ends around the five and a half mark as a drum beat heralds the entrance of the song proper, another smoking hot blues guitar oriented piece.
Devil With a Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly

This medley is another repeat from the first show. While this recording also suffers from a small blast of feedback, this is another killer jam.

Heart of Stone

Here we get a slower, mellower blues rock jam. I really like this version better than the one Janis Joplin did. It’s got a bit of gospel element to it and is quite effective. It does drag on a bit much, though. That’s particularly true of the mellower, slow section with vocals delivered by the crowd. That portion was probably cool if you were in the audience, but it’s a bit boring on an album like this.
Gimme Shelter
There’s an extensive guitar solo starting this off, with a lot of Jimi Hendrix built into it. The song proper, a cover of one of my all-time favorite Rolling Stones tunes, kicks in around the three-minute mark. Somehow, there’s a bit of that Allman Brothers vibe on this tune. This is definitely not my favorite version of this tune, but it has its particularly charms.
It Wasn't Me
This feels like a bluesy version of Creedence Clearwater Revival in a lot of ways. Of course, perhaps a better description would be “The Animals mixed with CCR.” There’s a harmonica solo later in the tune. 
Bass Intro/Little Wing

The bass guitar solo that starts this off is tasty, and considering I’ve always been a bass player, that says a lot. Although the second half of this is apparently “Little Wing,” I don’t hear it.

Soul Kitchen

This show was also closed out by The Doors’ tune. I think this one sounds even more like Morrison and company and it rocks out a lot. Harmonica does take it in some bluesier directions.

 
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