Saturday, January 8, 2011

Ted Nugent (1975)

It's almost hard to believe that Ted Nugent was the driving force behind The Amboy Dukes, a psychedelic band whose claim to fame was the trippy 1968 hit Journey To The Center Of The Mind. But when he finally struck out on his own in 1975, the Motor City Madman dropped the acid and pioneered his own unique brand of rock n roll swagger.

Ted's self-titled debut kicks off with Stranglehold, which I hesitate to call his all-time best track - only because doing so would imply that it's nothing but downhill from there, doing the rest of his catalog a disservice. The entire album is consistent, full of high energy rockers; I'd name all the good ones, except that I'd be liable to end up rattling off the entire tracklist. But I will mention Stormtroopin', only because I think it's a really infectious and energetic song, that also works well as a live opener.

"Stormtrooper's comin' - get ready!"

And speaking of live, the bonus tracks included on my copy of the album show what a force of nature Ted must have been in concert back in the seventies - and perhaps even still to this day. He just goes mad on Motor City Madhouse, and it makes for a real exciting performance.

On a related note, I like Ted as a vocalist, and I think his vocal attack is consistent with his violent approach to playing guitar. However, I like his collaboration with Derek St. Holmes (a decidedly more traditional rock singer), on Ted's first few albums. I think the contrast between them is dynamic, and it's nice to have both - some of Ted's energy here and there, with Derek's sweeter sounds filling in between.

And there's no question in my mind why the outtake Magic Party was originally left off the album. A fun little number perhaps, but it doesn't hold up to the album's consistent high-energy guitar-driven hard rock attack - with the one exception of You Make Me Feel Right At Home, which is a quirky tune that, ironically, doesn't quite feel at home (it would hold better company with the outtake).

But Ted Nugent is definitely a great rock album, and a deserving classic.

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