Who needs Devil with a blue dress when Saint Nick is coming to Rock City? Veteran Wheel helps him roll.
It’s been good 35 years since Mitch Ryder last rode into charts, and what would be the best way to remind people he’s still out there if not to release a seasonal album? Strictly doing perennials couldn’t cut it, though, given the singer’s usual sharpness, so he went for a mixed bag – or stocking – of regular fare and less obvious numbers, delivering it all rather too safely than expected but bringing joy to the world anyhow.
Of course, the effervescence of “What Christmas Means To Me” puts the record into traditional, albeit a bit raw, state of mind, with brass and organ bolstering the piece’s jubilant bounce and deliberate stumble that are quite delicious, while “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” has a great twang to it, too. Yet whereas the slight sneering serves “Blue Christmas” well, “Jingle Bell Rock” sounds too tame for its own good, unlike “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” whose playful country jive is what’s needed to get in the festive mood. Fortunately, the sprightly elegance of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” will be contrasted further down the line with “Santa Claus” – the only fuzz-laden belter on offer to reflect Ryder’s Detroit glory because, Yuletide or not, you can’t go wrong with THE SONICS’ tune.
So Mitch may opt for a pleasant uplift in “Put A Little Love In Your Heart” but going down, towards his old acquaintance Devil, would be a tad more joyful. Still, we know now that the veteran’s in good shape, and here’s hoping he’s able to take a bumpier ride any day soon.