By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
Seeing how a comp of Seger's 1965-74 Motor City punk period has been the planet's most overdue reissue since before CDs existed, this stupid 1975-95 hodgepodge is a rip-off by definition. But it's also kinda funeven informative, thanks to a surprising spoken-not-sung '95 junkie-robbing-Manhattan-liquor-store epic that could be David Baerwald covering Jim Carroll. Also notable is how 1980's proto-Mix-a-Lot "Her Strut" struts like "Urgent" by Foreigner minus sax, and how Harold Faltermeyer beats Rodney Crowell and Tom Waits. Plus, everything pre-'80 kicks ass. Saddest line: "He wants his home and security, he wants to live like a sailor at sea." Most proto-metal screech: "Katmandu." Missing link between "Slippin' Into Darkness" and "Whole Lotta Rosie": "Fire Down Below." Only lyric about ramblin' and gamblin': "Fire Lake." Best song (including for dancing): "Sunspot Baby," where Bob's lady steals away to the Bahamas and Negril with his American Express.
Kid Rock (Atlantic)
Lotsa sloppily insincere rural-route boogies (more entertaining than Black Crowes; less than "Picture" or "Only God Knows Why"), though any road ballad where he doesn't sound whiskey-wasted wastes space. Joe Walsh and Axl are blatantly quoted; Hank Jr. duet sounds sorta Humble Pie; Bad Company cover and Blackfoot-style blooze are fun till old bullgod fists of rage mook up the works; Kenny Wayne Shepherd shuffle has Kid calling himself black then being Ice T; Detroited David Allen Coe rewrite with tushful ZZ riff drops same music-hero names (none of 'em from Detroit!) as "American Bad Ass"; Native-American-syncopated and nearly-phat-as-Bubba Sparxxx rap about mudflaps, hamhocks, hiccups, and pickups features Billy Gibbons on "guest vocals and beer"; final three songs (including one Seger wrote in 1980) concern divorce. Persona: lazy journeyman hack and proud of it. So the tune where a topless groupie cuts him a line is just called "Rock n' Roll."
Tennessee Tech psych major in tight jeans for soccer moms and black hat for NASCAR dads hires as a co-producer Mike Shipley for all-important Def Lep/Cheap Trick cred; bouzouki, cello, and sitar complement fiddle and lap steel; lots of corny marriage-saving advice is bandied about by self-proclaimed non-new-age guy. But "What's Left of Me" uplifts like Garth; "Monkey in the Middle" makes up for its watered-down Montgomery Gentry riff by explicitly ripping off Leon Russell's "Tight Rope"; "Sing Along" bawds convincingly ("Ain't no kangaroo lawyer, but I will get you off"); a bizarre forgiveness-versus-permission false dichotomy is almost successfully pondered; a farfisa sheds 96 tears. And a self-psychoanalyzing '80s-mall-blues swooper about adopted young Rodney's dad shrugging him off when Mom dies makes the detailed Elton-as-in-"Your Song" update "My Old Man" feel less autobiographical than it allegedly is.