Who would have thought that out of the late ’90s freshman rap-rock class it would be Kid Rock who survived? Who thrived, even, without overdosing, fading into obscurity or morphing into Ted Nugent?
“Rebel Soul,” Rock’s ninth album, completes his impressive transition from immature, pimped-out bullgod to slightly less immature pimped-out bullgod. It’s a Southern rock-flavored red-state party album that does exactly what it’s supposed to do: convey its cargo of redneck anthems, heavy jams, Memphis soul homages and a vanishingly small number of rap-rock bangers with sincerity and skill.
Throughout, Rock examines his likes (partying, the troops, vintage ZZ Top riffs, barnyard animals) and dislikes (not partying, the concept of a one-world government brought about by manipulation of the currency markets, fake blonds) with a team that includes an amazing facsimile of the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” backup singers.
Among the highlights: “Detroit, Michigan” (Kid Rock is from Detroit. Has he mentioned it?), with its nods to Seger, Eminem and Aretha; and “3 CATT Boogie,” which improbably depicts Rock as an international rabble rouser (“So come and catch me, if you can/Maybe Egypt or Iran/Startin’ revolutions baby, hey that’s what I do”).
Age has not tamed Rock’s baser impulses: On “Cucci Galore,” he fantasizes about hanging at the Playboy mansion with girls in edible bikinis. It’s like an STD, in musical form. And “Chickens in the Pen” belabors the connection between farm animals and romance more than any of us might want to think about.
— Allison Stewart
“Midnight Ferry,” “Let’s Ride”