It's been over a decade since Kid Rock made an album this good, but Sweet Southern Sugar
is his strongest album since his self-titled, containing a stunning cross-section of the different genres he's dabbled in: "Raining Whiskey" and "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch" (a cover of the Four Tops classic), hard rock on "Greatest Show on Earth" (a Kiss
-style celebration of the power of rock), Prince
-style funk on "I Wonder", country-rock on "Po-Dunk" and rap-rock on "Grandpa's Jam"...this is a versatile album which engaged me from start to finish. It is
short, though, clocking in at slightly over 40 minutes, continuing Kid Rock's programming style of producing albums that echo 1970s rock (or in the past, country) album tracklists.
Rap, absent from Kid Rock's previous two albums, makes a welcome return, as does Kid Rock's lack of political correctness, something sorely missed in the two previous albums which felt almost P.C. On "Grandpa's Jam", he raps "I'll *** you in your ass quick with Taylor Swift's dick"...in "Greatest Show", he sings about rolling weed and announces that "my *** tank's on E", and on "Po-Dunk", he celebrates the joy of white trash life ("Little toe-headed rascal peein' off the porch" and grampa brandishing a shotgun looking for the deadbeat dad), and jives that he "don't give a flyin' hillbilly ***".
Plus, it's musically awesome, too: "Po-Dunk" has Kid Rock singing over twangy Southern rock guitars and hip-hop beats melded with country blues, "Back to the Other Side" combines Southern soul with a rap flow, there's metal-influenced guitar riffs on "Greatest Show On Earth" and "I Wonder" features a damn good recreation of the trademark Prince squeal.
A minor quibble I have with the album is that it's very short at 43 minutes. The single for "Greatest Show" indicates that Kid Rock recorded about 8 minutes of Allman-esque jamming with the Twisted Brown Trucker Band, including some really awesome keyboard parts. The 4 minute version is used for the album while the 12 minute extended version is relegated to digital downloads. Understandably, some people might balk at a 12 minute Kid Rock song, which is probably why it didn't make the album, but his fans would have appreciated it, and the extended single is one of the greatest things I've heard and really shows how amazingly talented Twisted Brown Trucker is; it's a shame that the band is brushed off because of their association with Kid Rock, but it's also a shame that P.C. jackasses dismiss Kid Rock even though he's a great songwriter and musician, and extraordinarily dedicated to his craft and his fans. Sweet Southern Sugar
is an album dedicated to that fact, made by a man who doesn't give a *** about the haters and just wants to rock the house and make music for himself. And this is his best album in a long time.