You know, I regularly get my ass kicked by readers and friends for claiming that Kid Rock is the most talented, and best artist out there today that's making music. That's fine. I know that as primarily a metalhead, I'm supposed to loathe what Kid Rock stands for. Let's face it, he did make his mark as a rapper, and then sold that out to do what he actually wanted to do, which was make primarily rock music. I guess I see that. I also guess I don't care. I thought he was really good as a rapper. I think he's better as a modern day classic rock artist. The one thing that's never changed with Kid Rock has been his attitude. He's done whatever he wanted from day 1, and he's made it big in spite of the expectations that people in the industry throw on him. Every album now comes with a heavy dose of "fuck you" combined with a side order of "you don't know shit" that he happily throws in the face of an industry that's hellbent on defining trends instead of listening to fans and their desires. Thank God for Kid Rock.
REBEL SOUL is, in my eyes, Kid Rock's finest hour. In so many ways, REBEL SOUL reminds me of THE SOUTHERN HARMONY AND MUSICAL COMPANION album from The Black Crowes from so many years ago. It does so because this album is chock full of tremendously catchy and fun songs, but it's so against the grain of not only what's going on but Rock's own career that it just moves you. Lyrically, Kid Rock has done some different things here, going for a lot deeper political messages this time around. "Catt Boogie" deals a lot with governmental moves that are creating a one world government, while the first single "Let's Ride" makes a very pro-troops statement in the most real and hardcore way Rock can.
Talk of political messages should not influence anyone into thinking that this is strictly a message driven album like a Rage Against The Machine might put out. It's still Kid Rock after all, so there's just as much fun rockin' as there is serious moments. Songs like "Cucci Galore" prove once again that there's still a heavy dose of "let's get naked and party ladies" vibe to Rock. Other songs like "Celebrate" and "Happy New Year" are simple party rockers that get stuck in your head like gum in a middle school girl's hair. As always, there's songs celebrating music in general ("God Save Rock And Roll"), and there's the always needed celebration of Rock's hometown ("Detroit, Michigan"). This album is about as dysfunctional as anything Kid Rock has done lyrically, but the overriding vibe he's created here is one of an album that you don't merely listen to a track or two from. This is a "start to finish" album that you just put on and groove to for an hour; very much like you would back in the day with the work of Rock's musical hero Bob Seger.
While there's a lot of talk about different songs and different meanings, Rock has recorded not only one but two of his best songs ever on REBEL SOUL. The title track, "Rebel Soul" is, without question, the most complete picture of what Kid Rock is as an artist today. By contrast, the ballad "The Mirror" is the most touching, deep track lyrically that Rock has done to date; light years past his previous best "Amen" from ROCK N' ROLL JESUS.
PITRIFF RATING - 97/100 - I'm sure the hate mail will again come for saying Kid Rock is great, but bring it. Kid Rock is fucking great, and his latest REBEL SOUL is the greatest thing this guy has done to date. Truly a moving album!