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Mitch Ryder | Christmas (Take a Ride)

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

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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.