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CD Reviews: Kid Rock, Bobby Bare Jr.: Still crazy after all these beers

Kid Rock has always said what he feels. His carefree and rebellious attitude has attracted a legion of fans, many of whom won't be happy with what the singer has to say on his new self-titled album.

Kid Rock has always said what he feels. His carefree and rebellious attitude has attracted a legion of fans, many of whom won't be happy with what the singer has to say on his new self-titled album.

In 1998 Rock shot to the top out of Detroit by hotwiring rap's street-ready bravado and pimp-friendly fashion to heavy metal riffs. But when he turned toward Southern rock on 2001's "Cocky" and toned down the guitars -- and the machismo -- on 2001's "Picture," a duet with Sheryl Crow, fans wondered where he was going.

On the new disc Rock leaves the streets behind and trades in his fedora for a Stetson and the open road.

"Kid Rock" is packed with two kinds of songs: travel ballads and reminders about just what makes Kid Rock rock. Many of the songs could've been subtitled "What's My Name Again?"

While rap transformed Robert James Ritchie into Kid Rock, classic rock and country planted seeds at birth. What else could've inspired such an uninspired cover of Bad Company's "Feel Like Making Love" as the album's first single? Likewise, the other cover, Bob Seger's "Hard Night for Sarah," is a Silver Bullet dud.


Despite being a Motor City native, the singer has always embraced Southern rock and his redneck roots. He adapts one of David Allen Coe's less offensive songs into "Son of Detroit" and duets with Hank Williams Jr. on a song that solidifies Rock's hold as the heir apparent to the Monday Night Football anthem.

The album boasts so many travel ballads you wonder why Rock didn't just cover Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" or Journey's "Faithfully." Instead, he croons the aptly-titled "Cold and Empty," co-written by pint-sized country crooner Kenny Chesney, and the forgettable "Do It For You."

The bonus track ballad, "Single Father," may be a throwaway song, but you'll hear it come Father's Day and for Promise Keeper montages.

Rock teams up again with "Picture" partner Sheryl Crow for "Run Off to L.A." and while Crow's pop instincts move the song along, it lacks any chemistry.

Instead, he scores with ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons on "Hillbilly Stomp" and more boisterous tracks like "Jackson, Mississippi" and the rap-rock "Intro."

Bobby Bare Jr. also rolls his country roots onstage as a rock star.

The son of the country singer behind "Detroit City" and "500 Miles Away From Home" scored critics' kudos last year with his solo debut "Young Criminals' Starvation League." His follow-up EP, "OK -- I'm Sorry..." offers a party mix of live tracks and outtakes.

The singer plays Ralph's Corner in Moorhead Wednesday night.


Bare offers some B-side nuggets like a cover of the Coca-Cola co-opted "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" and an in-studio live radio spin on the pseudo reggae "Mother Ucker," complete with a DJ-interuptus refrain which only fuels the band's giddy playing.

The singer then plays himself breathless on "True Story," a hyperventilating tale which plays out like the Violent Femmes' "Add It Up."

The real gem is a Chicago performance of the previously unreleased "Valentine." The song showcases Bare's rock chops and emotional vocals, the American male's counterpart to Aussie-songstress Kasey Chambers.

The disc holds two versions (live and demo) of "I'll Be Around" and videos of that song and "Valentine." There's not enough here to make it a must-have, but it is a worthy companion to "Young Criminals' Starvation League."

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533

"Kid Rock"

Kid Rock

Atlantic Records


Two out of four stars

"OK -- I'm Sorry"

Bobby Bare Jr.

Bloodshot Records

Three out of four stars

If you go

- Who: Bobby Bare Jr.

- When: 9 p.m. Wednesday


- Where: Ralph's Corner, Moorhead

- Info: There is a $5 cover for this 21 and older show. (218) 233-3351


- Kid Rock is scheduled to appear on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," tonight. The show begins at 10:30 p.m. on KVLY (Ch. 11 in Fargo-Moorhead).

For 20 years John Lamb has covered art, entertainment and lifestyle stories in the area for The Forum.
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