Kid Rock

    Grits Sandwiches for Breakfast (Jive, 1990)
   Fire It Up (Continuum, 1994)
     Devil Without a Cause (Top Dog/Lava/Atlantic, 1998)
    The History of Rock (Lava/Atlantic, 2000)
    Cocky (Lava/Atlantic, 2001)
    Kid Rock (Atlantic, 2003)
    Live Trucker (Atlantic, 2006)
     Rock N Roll Jesus (Atlantic, 2007)

Who put the baw in the bawitdaba da-bang-ga-dang diggy-diggy? His name is Kid Rock, baby, and he hit the big time on Devil Without a Cause, a trailer trash triumph of metal guitars, hip-hop beats, and I'm-an-American-band egomania. In scuzzbag anthems such as "Bawitdaba," "Cowboy," and "I Am the Bullgod," the Kid comes on looser and funnier than the rap-metal competition, probably because he doesn't nurse any psychosexual grudges against the world: All he wants to do is rock like Amadeus for his Detroit playas. For all its boozy wallop, the music is full of clever details—"Cowboy" swipes its piano solo from the Doors'"L.A. Woman," while "Bawitdaba" mixes up the Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" and the Marcels' "Blue Moon" like it ain't no thing. Giving love to minimum-wage lawn mowers and Heidi Fleiss and topless dancers and midnight glancers, crooning his own ersatz Skynyrd ballad "Only God Knows Why," Kid Rock is a one-man grand funk railroad. And when he urges his peeps, "Get in the pit and try to love someone!" he ain't joking.

Kid Rock had actually been around for years already, even if nobody outside the Detroit methadone clinics had ever heard of him. His early albums are clever ("I like bean burritos from Taco Bell/I like trippin' on acid with Dick Vitale"), but not as much fun as Devil. The Bullgod celebrated his breakthrough with The History of Rock, a collection of odds and sods from his past, most either remixed or rerecorded entirely. The material wasn't quite dope enough to sell his new fans on the theory that he was a neglected master back when he was taking up fanzine ad space alongside early-Nineties hip-hop not-quites like Downtown Science, Dream Warriors, Poor Righteous Teachers, and the Afros. The highlight was the brand-new "American Badass," which shouts out to Johnny Cash and Grandmaster Flash, David Allan Coe, and No Show Jones.

Cocky was a weak followup, playing down the hip-hop and taking the Southern-rock ballads way too seriously. Kid Rock went even further into country-style guitar rock, but with better songs, including the Hank Williams Jr. duet "Cadillac Pussy" and a cover of Bad Company's "Feel Like Makin' Love." Live Trucker was full of no-frills live versions of hits like "Bawitdaba," "Cowboy" and the countrified coke ballad "Picture" (with Gretchyn Wilson filling in for Cheryl Crow).

Rock N Roll Jesus was another solidly written, balls-out rock record. Kid howls over giant AC/DC riffs on songs like the stripper's anthem "So Hot," which features this inspirational come-on: "I don't want to be your friend/ I want to fuck you like I'm never gonna see you again." The sweet reminiscence "All Summer Long," which quotes "Sweet Home Alabama," became a big hit, and except for the ruminative, vaguely gospel "Amen," Jesus finds the Murder City madman trying to make the party record of his PBR dreams. With a few more strong songs, he would have gotten there.

Portions of this album guide appeared in The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (Fireside, 2004).

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