So I was riding the bus into work this morning and grooving to songs from Kid Rock’s album Born Free and it occurred to me that this site is tagged as “My views on everything Marc-centric”, so if that’s the case…how is it that this site has existed now for 4 months shy of 4 years and I haven’t written anything about music and especially Kid Rock!?! So I figured I’d better get on that.
So here’s my idea for this column…Kid Rock has been around in the public eye (or ear) since about 1998 but in reality, he released his first album back in 1990…and he’s released one live and 11 studio albums, so let’s run down each of them and break down why they’re worth listening to or not and what I specifically like about each one. I think this can be kinda fun, but please realize that these are my views and feelings on each album, you’re welcome to your own thoughts on each one, the following are mine and mine alone. So with that said, let’s get this thing going…
Grits Sandwiches For Breakfast
Released in 1990 on Jive Records, this was Kid Rock’s first album. I’d love to say that this was the album that launched his career, however I’d be lying if I said this album was even decent. Amazingly, after the success of Devil Without A Cause, this album could be found fairly easily in a lot of record stores. It was released by Jive records and is a very raw rap album that sounded a bit Vanilla Ice-ish. He was a white kid from Detroit that was trying to make his way in the rap world and just missed out in competition with Vanilla Ice (thankfully). Who knows if he’d have lasted had he hit it big back then…he may never have found the rock & rap combo that ended up being his ticket to real fame. Notable (and by notable, I mean listenable) tracks I kinda liked off of this one are very few and include: “Yo-Da-Lin in the Valley” & “With a One-Two”.
The Polyfuze Method
Released in 1993 on Top Dog Records (Kid Rock’s own label), is the first album in which Kid Rock starts to find his own sound by dipping into a little of rock and rap, but it’s still largely a rap album. And because it’s now on his own label, this one didn’t have anywhere near the penetration into the marketplace that Grits Sandwiches for Breakfast did. This one was only released in and around Detroit, Michigan. Obtaining a copy of this CD became a much easier task with the launch of Ebay. A couple of the tracks (“Prodical Son”, “3 Sheets to the Wind”, “Fuck U Blind” & “My Oedipus Complex”) off of this album are revisited and remastered for his later album, The History of Rock, however like on Grits Sandwiches for Breakfast, it’s still kinda raw sounding, he hasn’t really found his sound yet or figured out what he can do with his voice. I’ve listened to this album MANY more times than I have the previous one. It’s also the album with what I think is one of the funniest and most unexpected track titles I’ve probably ever seen in “Trippin’ with Dick Vitale”. I’d wonder if he got in any trouble by using Dick Vitale’s name, but considering the lack of plays it got on the radio (as in probably zero), I’m sure it wasn’t even a blip on anyone’s radar. Again, he wasn’t ready for main-stream stardom yet, but he was well on his way to figuring out what he could do to make it big. Of the tracks on this album, I’ve always loved “Prodical Son” & “3 Sheets to the Wind” — which he still performs quite often in concert to this day!
Early Mornin’ Stoned Pimp
Released in 1996 on Top Dog Records, once again this is another album that was really only locally released in and around the Detroit, Michigan area and was by far the hardest one to acquire for me. Again, we’re still talking about a very raw, amateur-ish rap album where he’s still not found the sound that is going to make him a star. You can see him making progress towards that rock & rap style, but he’s not quite there yet. I feel like I’m kind of a broken record here in describing his older albums, but as I’m sure you can imagine…there really isn’t anything significant about these albums that you can take and say “I can’t believe nobody jumped on this guy!” I mean while you can tell he’s got some talent for song writing as time goes by here, he’s still trying to find his way as a performer, but by now has started to realize a little of what he can do with his voice. Like with on The Polyfuze Method, some of the tracks from this album are remastered on his The History of Rock album (“Early Mornin’ Stoned Pimp”, “Ya Keep On” & “I Wanna Go Back”) and are well worth going back and listening to here. Even a couple of the tracks make their way onto his next, and one of his most notable albums, Devil Without A Cause: “Black Chick, White Guy” & “Where U At Rock”.
Devil Without A Cause
Released in 1998, by Atlantic and Top Dog Records, this is when Kid Rock put it all together and found his sound. And what a sound it was! And the world took note, by making this album go 11x platinum! Not many were doing the rock & rap mix yet, so he was a bit of a pioneer here. “Bawitdaba” was a HUGE single for him and rightfully so, it was one awesome song at the time…which he still closes out concerts with to this day (almost 20 years later!). There’s a lot to like about this album and a number of hit singles came off this one from “Bawitdaba”, “Cowboy”, “Only God Knows Why”, “I Am The Bullgod” & “Devil Without A Cause” which featured his midget buddy, Joe C. One of my absolute favorite Kid Rock songs came from this album as well…”Wasting Time”. This is the album that got me into his stuff. I can still remember watching MTV one night, seeing the video and being blown away by Bawitdaba and from there, I had to find more from this Kid Rock guy who I had never heard of. From there, one of my college friends had this CD at school and I asked if we could listen to it. As track after track played, I knew this was an album I needed to have and I was really hooked! Fellow Detroit native, Eminem even appears in “Fuck Off”. There really aren’t any tracks I wouldn’t suggest not giving a try on this one, it’s the album that made him a star and it’s quite easy to see why.
The History Of Rock
Released in 2000 by Atlantic Records, this was Kid Rock’s way of re-releasing & remastering some of his older tracks from really only The Polyfuze Method and Early Mornin’ Stoned Pimp. He never bothered touching on anything from his first album ever again. Aside from this being the album he released “American Badass” on, there really isn’t much to note on this one except that the versions of the songs on this album much more jive with what his sound was following Devil Without A Cause. It’s listenable, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to seek this one out if you don’t have it.
Released in 2001 by Atlantic Records, this was really the follow up album to Devil Without A Cause, Again, a number of hit singles came from this album as well: “Forever”, “Picture”(featuring Sheryl Crow), “Lonely Road of Faith” & “You Never Met A Motherfucker Quite Like Me”. But aside from the singles, there are a number of other tracks well worth a listen such as “Midnight Train to Memphis” which features David Spade with a quick line mid-song, “Lay It On Me”, which I think was his attempt at trying for another song like “Wasting Time”, but I don’t love that song anywhere near the amount I do the first one. Also, the title track, “Cocky” is plenty fun as well to listen to. This is also the first album where he starts to branch out from the rock & rap style and started venturing into a bit of a country sound. Though this album didn’t get anywhere near the number of plays that his previous one did, there is plenty of good stuff on here that are well worth a listen or two.
Released in 2003 on Atlantic Records, his self-titled album is one that doesn’t get a lot of love from a lot of Kid Rock fans. Personally, I loved this one! He continues to venture down different avenues with his style and I think that’s probably why it doesn’t get the love that previous albums did. He mixes in some more country and some southern rock as well. While I don’t love his version of “Feel Like Makin’ Love” on here or the second track on the album, “Cadillac Pussy”, it does open with one of my favorite songs of his: “Rock N Roll Pain Train”. “Son Of Detroit”, “Jackson, Mississippi” and “Hillbilly Stomp” are all fun songs that really elevate this album for me. Like I said earlier, this one wasn’t really well received by most of the Kid Rock fanbase, but I’ve kinda found that I’m really a fan of just about everything this guy puts out. He just has a fairly unique sound and I really dig his work.
Released in 2006 on Atlantic Records, Kid Rock finally released a live album for the masses. By this time, I had seen him in concert probably at least 3 times and each time I was amazed at how he was able to seemingly mix in all of his hits from his previous albums into each of his shows by mixing songs up in medleys. Aside from playing at least small parts of so many of his past hits, a couple of his routines he usually manages to do during his shows is his trip around the stage to various members of his Twisted Brown Trucker Band and taking over their instruments. He showcases his musical talents by showing he can play guitar, bass, drums, piano and also takes over the turn tables and does some freestyle mixing. On top of that, the other routine he used to do was breaking into Waylon Jennings’ “Good Ol’ Boys” ala The Dukes of Hazzard (since he was such a fan of that show) in the middle of “Cowboy”. And for as much as I was looking forward to those being on this album, I was really disappointed to find out they weren’t as I really felt they were a big part of the “Kid Rock concert experience”. However, he does a little medley with “Somebody’s Gotta Feel This” & “Fist Of Rage” which sandwiched his rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” while also breaking into Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” in the middle of “You Never Met A Motherfucker Quite Like Me”. All in all, this is a fun live album with a few variations on his original studio recordings, but for me, I think I was hoping for a bit more since I knew what his live shows were like and was hoping to have some stuff more like those concerts that I could play at home whenever I pleased. I wouldn’t not listen to this one as it’s a good album, I just think maybe my expectations were a bit high since I know how great of a showman he had become by this time.
Rock N Roll Jesus
Released in 2007 on Atlantic Records, Kid Rock made us wait for his next studio album, but the wait was well worth it! This one came with a number of great singles: “So Hott”, “Amen”, “All Summer Long”, “Roll On”, “Blue Jeans And A Rosary” & the title track, “Rock N Roll Jesus”. To give you an idea as to how great this album is, the first five tracks became singles. This album also came out after his breakup with Pam Anderson and one song was clearly dedicated and directed at her…”Half Your Age”, where he talks about his current love and how she’s “half your age, and twice as hot”. It’s such a fun song and you have to know he had fun in writing it when he says early on in the song “And that darling is where you end, and this song begins” then follows it up with “I found someone new who treats me better” and the song just gets better from there. I won’t ruin the rest of it for you…seek this one out. “Lowlife (Living the Highlife)” is a fun song as well and while “So Hott” was his first single off this album, it would be blown completely out of the water by “All Summer Long”, which got LOTS of airplay. This was a great album to come back with after his self titled album kind of tanked.
Released in 2010 on Atlantic Records, this album has to be right up there at the top of my list for favorite Kid Rock albums. It’s only real hit was the title track, “Born Free”, but really this album is great from top to bottom! There really isn’t any track on this album that I would skip, it’s that good. In fact, my favorite song on here isn’t even a song that ever made it out to the radio…”Purple Sky”. I actually made that song my ringtone on my phone. By the time he’s gotten to this album, he’s really got a much more country sound. And while I’ll never say I’m a fan of country (which I’m really not), I’m a fan of just about everything Kid Rock does…and it’s hard to explain, but I think when he releases something, he makes it his own and while some of his stuff may have a country sound to them, I think it’s his own personal spin that makes it interesting to me. And it’s also probably because of his own personal spin on the genre that he doesn’t really get play on country radio stations with his newer stuff. In the end, whatever the reason is for me liking a genre of music I don’t usually bother with, Kid Rock is king in my book.
Released in 2012 on Atlantic Records, Kid continues to change his sound throughout this album while hitting on some Southern Rock, Gospel, Soul, Blues and Motown genres. Again, I love just about everything he puts out. I think he’s really a unique performer who can combine a lot of different styles and sounds and make it work. The only track on this album I’m not a real fan of on here is “Cucci Galore”, however there are a number of other great tracks on here that more than make up for that one: “Mr. Rock n Roll”, “Happy New Year”, “Let’s Ride” and the title track, “Rebel Soul”. While “Redneck Paradise” is a lot of fun along with “Detroit, Michigan,” in which he lists a number of the accomplishments and popular stars that Detroit has produced throughout it’s storied history. This was a great follow up to Born Free & Kid Rock is just rolling right along here producing some really great sounding albums.
Released in 2015 now on Warner Bros. Records, this is his first album with the new label. It got some real mixed reviews, but there are some fun songs on this one like: “Drinking Beer With Dad”, “Good Times, Cheap Wine”, “Jesus And Bocephus” and the title track, “First Kiss”, while closing out with a real fun song called “FOAD” which stands for Fuck Off And Die. This is another one of those good albums you can listen to while sitting out back, on the deck, while grilling and hanging out with friends. It’s a good soundtrack for good times just as a couple of his other albums can be. Again, he’s got a very unique sound that is really all his own that started as rap, morphed to rock & rap to southern rock to country to blues to motown to gospel & soul. He really is a chameleon in the music world and has an amazing band that backs him up that can also play all these various styles of music in the Twisted Brown Trucker Band.
So there ya have it, every album layed out with a LOT of great songs to go seek out to listen to. As I touched on in the write up for Live Trucker, I’ve been to see Kid Rock play in concert 8 times now and also skipped one show due to crappy weather (which still went on). As I’ve said before in my last blog, I’m very specific as to where I want to sit nowadays…even with concerts. A lot of times now, I really don’t care too much about being close for a Kid Rock show as I’d much rather just have somewhere I can chill to enjoy the music. At the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ, I’m totally fine sitting up on the lawn to take in a show. Usually, his tickets tend to be fairly inexpensive…he likes to make sure his shows are affordable for his fans and usually partners with some sponsor who will make this goal possible. I’ve also seen him down at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City, NJ where everything is general admission and you just kind of have to push your way to the front. It’s fairly anarchic…not exactly like a mosh pit, but lots of pushing through to get to the front. That was cool for going to see him once, I don’t know if I’d do it again. But after seeing him 8 times in concert, I can honestly say that he’s probably one of the best showmen in the business!
He brings his Twisted Brown Trucker Band, which is probably one of the greatest assembly of exceptionally gifted musicians who are able to switch gears on the fly as Kid Rock ventures from genre to genre with his extended catalog he has built over the past 20+ years and they do it quite seamlessly. If you haven’t been to a live show of his and know some of his stuff, I’d highly recommend going to check it out at least once. Sure, you’ll come across some quite interesting characters at his shows, but he really does his absolute best to cover as much of his catalog as he possibly can within the typical time constraints of a normal concert. As I’ve said, he’s a fairly inexpensive show and for a night out under the stars with some good tunes, I can’t think of many other things I’d rather be doing on a summer night. I just wish he were touring this summer!
Anyway if you’re still reading, I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog explaining my love for Kid Rock and his many styles of music. As he continues to release albums, I’ll probably add a short blog about future releases. I hope this helps to maybe get a few more people to sample some of his newer stuff and give him a chance. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how much fun his music is. Just try to ignore his nightly escapades at the local Waffle House restaurants.
Thanks for reading!