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Mitch Ryder | Christmas (Take a Ride)

The Detroit powerhouse never gets into second gear on this disappointing disc.

Nobody gets everything they wish for at the holidays. Not even Mitch Ryder fans. At least, not if they were wishing the Detroit soul-rock legend would bring his hard-driving approach and gruff muscle-car vocals to this new batch of Christmas fare. Instead, for no discernible reason, Ryder pulls back on the reins for most of Christmas (Take a Ride), cruising amiably through a mixed bag of familiar carols, seasonal pop ditties and novelty numbers. Sadly, the 73-year-old powerhouse never quite manages to get into second gear on most of these numbers — much as the band sometimes seems to be trying to prod him into putting the hammer down. Granted, the half-hour disc has its moments, particularly on the back half, which features a fuzz-busting garage-rock blaster Santa Claus, a piano-pounding take on Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and a sax-honking Sleigh Ride. But they mostly serve to remind you of what could and should have been, instead of what you end up with: Ryder crooning gunk like Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer against a yakety-sax backdrop. You can’t wish that away no matter how hard you try.

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