Friday, January 22, 2016

"When You Were Mine" by Mitch Ryder

Song#:  1528
Date:  07/16/1983
Debut:  95
Peak:  87
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rock, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  This Detroit rock 'n' roll legend (real name William Levise) played with a few bands around town in the early 60s, but it wasn't until he fronted Billy Lee & the Rivieras that things began to happen. They quickly gained a big following and it wasn't long before producer Bob Crewe (of The 4 Seasons fame) picked them up and signed them to his label. Due to another group existing called The Rivieras, a name change was in order and they then became Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels. With Crewe's help, the band scored a major hit with the #10 "Jenny Take a Ride" in 1965. Over the next two years they would score two more Top 10 hits including their biggest, the #4 "Devil with a Blue Dress On." However, Crewe had plans for Ryder as a solo artist and was somehow able to convince Ryder to leave the Detroit Wheels behind. It was not a good move and it pretty much killed his recording career. Ryder finally got out from under Crewe and quickly tried to restart the Wheels, but after one album in 1971 (credited to Detroit featuring Mitch Ryder), Ryder left the music scene behind and moved to Colorado to focus on other interests. He returned to music in 1979 with an album on his own label, which triggered big interest in Europe. A series of albums followed for the overseas market that did quite well. His return to the US market came about via one of Ryder's biggest fans, John Mellencamp. Following the success of Mellecamp's American Fool album (as John Cougar), he set out to produce a set for Ryder. Titled Never Kick a Sleeping Dog, the album got some attention thanks to Mellecamp's involvement and this first single, a remake of a Prince track from his 1980 LP Dirty Mind. Unfortunately, it didn't do much business and ended up scraping the bottom of the Pop chart for a month. It wasn't quite the big return they hoped for and the single became Ryder's last to hit the chart. It would be almost 30 years before Ryder would issue another album in the US.

ReduxReview:  I remember as a kid that my brother had the 45 single of Ryder's #24 1967 hit "Too Many Fish in the Sea/Three Little Fishes." I liked playing it and especially dug the end where they are calling off all the fish. Beyond that, I didn't really get into Ryder's music. I think the key to him was to see a live performance as apparently he was the shizzle. The comeback single sounds exactly like a John Mellencamp song a la "Hurts So Good." It's almost as if Mellencamp recorded the song himself and then brought in Ryder and said "sing to this." That's not necessarily a bad thing, but besides his trademark yowling, there is not a lot of Ryder going on here. However, I really like it and the Prince song fits in quite well with the Mellencamp sound. It's a solid remake.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) How did William Levise become Mitch Ryder? The story goes that when a name change was necessary for the band, Levise opened a New York phone book and happened upon the name Mitch Ryder and decided to adopt that moniker.  2) Although John (Cougar) Mellencamp produced the album, you won't see his name credited. Instead, for the producer credit you will see the name Little Bastard. That was a self-given nickname that Mellencamp went by back in the day. He used it in credits on several recordings.  2) Winona Laura Horowitz had aspirations of becoming an actor. But not with that name. She needed a stage name. Her father happened to be a big fan of Mitch Ryder, so she decided to adopt that name and became Winona Ryder. Her screen debut came in 1986 in the film Lucas. By 1986 she won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for The Age of Innocence and received an Oscar nomination for the film in the same category.


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