Rock N Roll Jesus

As its title suggests, this balls-to-the-wall album finds Kid Rock latching onto the verities of sex, drugs and rock & roll as a path to redemption — both his and the country's. He'd never admit it, but hurt over losing Pamela Anderson fuels his appetite for salvation. She's the target of the hilarious country romp "Half Your Age," which proclaims Rock's new girlfriend to be "half your age and twice as hot."

Rock shows his wistful side, too. "All Summer Long" takes its inspiration from "Night Moves," by Bob Seger (Kid's Michigan idol), mashing up the piano lick from "Werewolves of London" with bits of "Sweet Home Alabama" for a story of sexual awakening. It's stirring stuff. And "Amen" imports a gospel choir to denounce religious hypocrisy, racism and pointless soldiers' deaths in Iraq. There's straight country, hard-edged rock, big soul balladry and rhymes declaimed over metal guitar. Throughout, Kid Rock extends the Seger-Mellencamp tradition of heartland rock — its swagger as well as its vulnerability — into a new era.

Kid Rock is the first to admit that he's "no saint" — his immortal couplet (from "So Hott"), "I don't want to be your friend/ I want to fuck you like I'm never gonna see you again," amply makes that point. But his good-hearted faith in rock & roll delivers a powerful kick. As he well knows — and Rock N Roll Jesus proves — roaring guitars, truckloads of attitude and an unquenchable lust for life make up for a multitude of sins.