IGNORED OBSCURED RESTORED
I’ve been a fan of Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels since they released their first hits back in the mid-60s. My idol Bruce Springsteen was also a big fan, adapting Ryder’s hits into his famous final encore number, “The Detroit Medley” (which you can hear on the No Nukes: The Muse Concerts for a Non-Nuclear Future album).
Oddly, Springsteen’s medley leaves out my favorite Ryder hit – today’s SotW “Sock it to Me Baby” (#6, 1967). Put this one into the Restored category.
“Sock it to Me” is a wild, sweaty dose of Rock ‘n Soul. It has all of the best Detroit has to offer musically. It rocks with MC5 like intensity (check out the guitar break after each “Sock – it, to me baby” section), it has a Motown beat that makes dancing irresistible, and it has that subtle sexual tension that is present in so many of Rock and Roll’s best songs. Ryder’s performance is a damned good imitation of James Brown. And somehow when that slide whistle comes in it sounds just right despite my instinct telling me it should be corny (as it is on Procol Harum’s campy “Mabel”).
This is a party record if there ever was one.
When I began to write this post I wondered when the phrase “sock it to me” first came into the 1960’s lexicon. It was a popular catchphrase often used by Judy Carne on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In that first aired in 1968. Then there’s the “sock it to me” background vocal on Aretha’s “Respect.” That was recorded on February 14th, 1967; a little more than a week after Ryder’s song was released on February 4th. So who used it first, Aretha or Mitch? It would appear Mitch, but it’s hard to tell for sure – the matter made a little more complicated since both artists were based out of Detroit. Who knows what each was hearing around town prior to their recording dates?
One last Fun Fact: Winona Ryder chose her stage name when she saw a Mitch Ryder album in her father’s record collection. Interesting, since Mitch’s real name is Bill Levise.
Enjoy… until next week.