Mitch Ryder has made quite a few albums since he and the Detroit Wheels rolled out during 1965. But nothing has been quite like the new Detroit Breakout!
The 14-song set, whose video for Ryder's new version of "Devil With a Blue Dress" is premiering exclusively below, features fresh takes on rock and pop classics ranging from "Cool Jerk" and "Dirty Water" to "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay," "Just My Imagination," "If I Had a Hammer" and a show-stopping "Turn Back the Hands of Time." Ryder is joined on Detroit Breakout! by a variety of guests, including the MC5's Wayne Kramer (a two-time member of Ryder's band), former Stooges guitarist James Williamson, original Runaways singer Cherie Currie, Joe Louis Walker, Brian Auger, the New York Dolls' Sylvain Sylvain, B.B. King's daughter Shirley King and more." But "joined" is a relative term, Ryder tells Billboard, as he didn't know who would be on the album, or which tracks they'd appear on.
"It's sort of a new way to put a record together, and an interesting way," says Ryder, who recorded his Detroit Breakout! vocals in Austin, Texas, at the same time he recorded last year's Christmas (Take a Ride) as part of a two-album deal with Cleopatra Records. "It's a very curious way to put an album together, where the key artist doesn't know who his players are. The experience is new to me. But I think it turned out well. They're good arrangements and, I think, good performances. Most of these are in the R&B field, and of course I love that. I love it very much."
Ryder's only reservation is he can still hear the vestiges of vocal cord surgery he was recovering from at the time of the sessions. "There are some that are quite distinctly weaker; The backing vocals are louder than the lead vocals, almost," notes Ryder, who's released two albums of original material in Europe since the sessions for Christmas (Take a Ride) and Detroit Breakout!. "But there are some I was surprised are quite strong — enough so that I'm happy with it."
Ryder is also happy with the "Devil With the Blue Dress" video — a sharply choreographed clip that shows the effects the titular Satanatrix has on a crowd of men — and he was pleased to be "reunited" with Williamson, who says that "Devil" was "always one of my favorite songs. I had fun playing on the track. The finished version with Mitch sounds really current… just killer." Ryder, for his part, recalls hearing Williamson play in Michigan during the '70s, even before he joined the Stooges, though they did not know each other well.
"We were just competing musicians and we respected each other's music as much as we could, but I never hung out with these people," Ryder notes. "At least Hendrix, I hung out with him. I got high with him. He even took me up to his hotel and played me the Axis: Bold As Love album before it was ever released. But, no, I never hung out with James. (Kramer) was in a couple of my bands, that was the closest I can get with this whole list."
Detroit Breakout! (June 14) track list:
1. Devil With A Blue Dress feat. James Williamson
2. Cool Jerk feat. Wayne Kramer & Brian Auger
3. Dirty Water feat. Sylvain Sylvain
4. Turn Back The Hands Of Time feat. Shirley King
5. Have Love, Will Travel feat. Paul Rudolph
6. (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone feat. Walter Lure
7. Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream) feat. Cherie Currie
8. (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay feat. Arthur Adams
9. Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) feat. Lee Oskar
10. Bad, Bad Leroy Brown feat. Joe Louis Walker
11. You Send Me feat. Linda Gail Lewis
12. Twistin’ The Night Away feat. Joe Louis Walker
13. If I Had A Hammer feat. Linda Gail Lewis
14. Shout feat. Linda Gail Lewis