Originally released on Seeds & Stems Records in 1979 an American Jade Record label co-owned by Tom Conner & Mitch Ryder. This is the second album produced by the duo and has been re-mastered for worldwide digital download release through CD Baby.
The opening cut ‘Ain’t Nobody White’ is, however, a blues that confesses that ‘nobody white’ ever really sings the blues, although that never stopped lots of people from trying. It adopts a the sort of low key groove that might have suited Dire Straits with the nasal vocals Bruce Springsteen employed to such telling effect. “This song was covered by three different artists in Germany,” says Mitch. “By the way, Inever believed that ‘nobody white can sing the blues’. It was a remark about the infamous
incident with Elvis Costello, who made a remark about Ray Charles, after Ray had said:
‘Ain’t nobody white can sing the blues, except maybe Jews’. My belief is that’s a falsehood I began my career singing in a black quartet and throughout my entire life concentrated on urban rhythm’n’blues music. I think that people from all around the world - whether they’re from China or India - are capable of singing the blues.”
‘It’s Not For Me (The Corporate Song)’ is a slow, funky number with lots of slide guitar and a moody, menacing tone. “It’s about corporate America. And I wrote this decades before anybody was saying ‘this is what it’s all about’. The song is about the corporate mentalityand market place that existed at that time, when they were trying to kick start globalisation.To get a metallic industrial sound we even got a blacksmith’s anvil into the studio to hammer.”
‘War’ is even more menacing, but with an up tempo funky rhythm. “It explains the Americanmentality of pitching for war. It’s all about our life style and how we can’t sustain it without going to war. And we’ve had so many wars.”
‘Future Looks Bright’ dispenses with the R&B vibe altogether in favour of a jolly, vaudeville style that is perhaps intentionally ironic. “I wanted to try my hand and see if I could make it work. The song has a sarcastic format that was inspired by my friend, the composer Lionel Bart. I was trying to construct a song that I thought would be appropriate if it was put in the context of a musical. And I think I succeeded. Lionel was a true genius. He once createda record that was his answer to ‘Sgt.Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. It was the only album in response to ‘Sgt.Pepper’ by any artist that came close. He never got the recognition he deserved.”
‘I Got Mine’ isn’t the old Small Faces number, but a fast, boogie rocker with a shuffle beatbehind Ryder’s more relaxed vocals. “Bob Seger liked that one very much and he picked up on the fact the lyrics allude to him. When he was doing a six day run at a hall in Detroit in front of 10,000 people, he told his manager that Mitch Ryder was going to open for him on the show. There was a huge fight between him and his manager, because they had another act lined up. But Bob wanted me to open for him, out of respect.
Spitting Lizard’ is another rocker with an odd title that might perhaps
be dedicated to somebody Mitch encountered in the music business.
However, he now says: “I don’t even know what a spitting lizard is! I think
it’s more about an attitude than a person or an animal.”
‘True Love’ is far removed from the old Bing Crosby/Grace Kelly hit of 1956
and its reggae lilt is deceptive. Mitch reveals its dark origins. “I wrote
that when I was contemplating suicide. In fact, I had attempted suicide in 1973 and, obviously, didn’t succeed. I would have, but my wife came home early and took me to the hospital and saved me, so I could continue on with God’s work. It’s so silly when I look back at what I’ve done in the past. I can understand why people attempt to take their own lives, but you’ve really got to be egocentric to do it. You’ve got to believe you are the only person in the world and totally forget there are other people who love you. You should at least communicate with them and tell them about your pain. Suicide is understandable, especially when people gang up on you, as was done to me. You become desperate and suffer too much drama, pain and strife. I just wanted that to end. Ultimately, suicide is a very selfish act.”
‘I Don’t Wanna Hear It’ has even more mixed influences, where punk rock meets 1950s pop. “That’s one of the most sexist songs ever recorded. It’s equal to ‘Under My Thumb’ by the Rolling Stones. And this was written at a time when were supposed to be enlightened! I was really baiting the feminists to make a remark and it was a cruel thing to do. I don’t dismiss it, though. It had a purpose.”
‘Home Town’ has a reggae feel and the lyrics have another pointed message, as Mitch
explains. “That’s about the ‘white flight’ in Detroit. It’s about the abandoning of the city of Detroit by the general white population. So it’s now 87 per cent African American. I do drive into Downtown Detroit, as there is a safe corridor, but the warning is ‘don’t get a flat tyre’.
Over the next twenty years, Mitch Ryder released many more albums and continued
performing, especially in Germany where he toured in 2009. Mitch Ryder has also been busy working on his autobiography ‘Devils In Blue Dresses: The Wild Ride Of A Rock’n’Roll Legend’, due for publication in August 2009. It promises to be a wild read!
CHRIS WELCH London, England, February 2009
An American Jade Production for Seeds & Stems Records
Produced by Tom Conner & Mitch Ryder
Recorded at: Superdisc – East Detroit Michigan
Engineers: Ron Cristopher, F. Munch, J.Jascz
Mixed at Cloudborn Productions – Grosse Pointe Michigan
Engineer: Ken Sands
Wilson Owens – Drums
Joe Gutc – Guitar
Richard Schein – Guitar
Billy Csernits – Keyboards
Mark Gougeon – Bass/Flute
Copyright 1979 & 2009 American Jade Inc