Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels were a great, blistering rhythm and blues unit from the Sixties, with inspired, pumped up hits like "Good Golly Miss Molly/Jenny Take a Ride", "Sock it to Me Baby", and "Devil in a Blue Dress".Ryder had an unbelievably limited voice, perpetually hoarse, rasping, cracked and textured like old sandpaper: not suitable for more melodic fair, but perfect for the kind of Stax/Volt gospel shouting style that the band was influenced by, a sound where holy rapture was supplanted by a condensed and amplified eroticism. What he did was do brilliant things with a vocal instrument that would normally discourage a person from attempting anything as demanding on the vocal cords such as black rhythm and blues. With a crackerjack band, the feeling was obvious, conspicuous, infectious to the degree that objections to Ryder's mewling grate were tossed aside and anyone still insisting that this wasn't the way the music was supposed to sound was advised to heed Sister Rose's admonishment from Sly and the Family Stone's tune "Dance to the Music""
"...ALL SQUARES GO HOME..."
The music was climaxing from the start, and every element, from the punchy piano chords, shotgun drum reports and open-wound guitar vamps underscoring the brilliantly realized desperation in Ryders' grunting, coughing, phlegm-coated singing style. This was the testimony of a man who knew he was down to the last seconds of the time he was allowed to plead his case. This is Love-As-Cardiac Arrest. After the break up of the Wheels, little of what Ryder did was compelling. He did a solo turn on the hoary "What Now My Love", backed by over-the-top orchestration that tried to legitimize the brave but sad efforts of Mitch trying to hit and hold the right notes of the melody. Ryder tuned in a game performance and perhaps deserves credit for taking as risk with a musical style his voice was miserably ill-equipped to handle, but the best that can be said, in the kindest terms, was that his singing so sounding like the half-verbal sounds made by someone locked in the bathroom stall next to you, someone you assume should have more bran and fewer cavity cramming cheeseburgers. An album recorded in Memphis yielded mixed results, hardly funky. He had another band called Detroit that had one album and a minor hit with Lou Reeds' "Rock and Roll".Later, an interesting turn. He released an album called "How I Spent My Summer Vacation". It was all about buggery, and God bless him. Some might say that this is the music Lou Reed ought to have been writing. Reed did just fine with his own style and approach to the wild side; I still don't know what to make of Mitch Ryder's rendition of The Life.