New Release (Michigan Broadcasting Co).
Comeback albums by '60s legends are a fast-disappearing breed, and it’s good to hear Mitch Ryder, Detroit’s greatest blue-eyed soulman, in something close to vintage form on this disc. That said, don’t expect another “Sock It To Me Baby.” You might not have heard Ryder’s obscure, European releases over the years, but they’ve all leaned toward the streetwise sound and unflinching lyrics that you’d expect from a Lou Reed or a John Mellencamp (the latter produced Ryder’s last US album, which was released way back in 1983). The difference here is that producer Don Was works hard — sometimes too hard — to give it a commercial sheen, throwing in an unnecessary soul cover (Jimmy Ruffin’s “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted”). Ryder deserves the shot, though, and the disc wisely emphasizes his latter-day songwriting prowess over the groovesmanship of old. Though most of his early hits were covers, Ryder’s quietly become a first-class songwriter who can pull resonance (and hooks) out of his personal misadventures; nitty-gritty songs like “Junkie Love” make the inspirational moments (“Crazy Beautiful”) feel well earned.