Mitch Ryder

Red Blood, White Mink

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Featuring a crack band entering its prime, Red Blood White Mink shows why so many people thought this was one of the best bands on the planet, for a time. The album covers Ryder's career, but in Europe in the '80's he was considered a current artist rather than an oldies act. Consequently the disc focuses on Mitch's latter-day stuff. Johnny B Badanjek from the original Wheels propels this group to amazing heights with his rapid fire drumming, and guitarists Robert Gillespie and Joe Gutc raise eyebrows with their high wire act. Ryder's vocal prowess is best on display on a seven-minute version of the Stones classic, "Heart of Stone." Mitch sings alternately with sandpaper ferocity and a smooth gentle tone, building to bloodcurdling screams. One of Ryder's strengths has always been finding great material and making it his own, such as Lou Reed's "Rock and Roll," which has a totally different arrangement from any of Lou's versions. Also, "Gimme Shelter," is truly incendiary, upping the ante on one of rock's most intense songs ever. There is plenty of stuff from Ryder's moody late 70's and early 80's albums here as well, most notably the anti-war songs "Bang Bang" and "War." Also, "Ain't Nobody White," Mitch's reply to Ray Charles claiming that "ain't nobody white can sing the blues" is as powerful as its message. One of the few problems with this disc is in the sequencing, which is picking nits, but what the hell. The disc is front-loaded with epic songs generally better left for the middle or end of a show. It doesn't really represent the well-constructed sets the band was playing back then. Taken on it's own terms though, this is a mesmerizing example of what live rock and roll can be.

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