Cocky

Kid Rock proves the power of perseverance, eventual excellent timing and a truckload of dumb luck. In these days of hypermarketed instant success, Rock's belated, massive victory with a banging, multiplatinum fourth album after three lousy flops goes against every music-biz trend, and for that alone he deserves props. But it didn't bode well that The History of Rock, the sequel to 1998's Devil Without a Cause, featured songs rerecorded from his early duds. Cocky also sounds like Rock's bad old material, but it's not. On "Forever," Rock boasts that he's "still the same 'cause I ain't changed nothin'." He's mostly right: "Forever" could be "Bawitdaba Pt. 2," while "Lonely Road of Faith" mimics "Only God Knows Why." But Devil's accidental freshness is gone; instead, Rock self-consciously builds on his badass-hick-with-a-heart-of-gold image. Sentiments like "We can make it through the winds of change," from "Lonely," are corny, but that's only a little problem. The execution — particularly on the many pseudo-country cuts from this Midwesterner — is really corny, and that's a big problem. Their novelty faded, Rock's AC/DC, Run-D.M.C. and Lynyrd Skynyrd tributes now come across as clunky imitation. This free bird flies high but never far from the nest.

From The Archives Issue 254: December 15, 1977