In the '70s, while many groups were getting caught up creating "art" (and most of these efforts proved ponderous) there was one guy who understood Rock was supposed to be wild and outrageous. Terrible Ted Nugent - The Attilla the Hun of Rockers.
The man who gave the world "Cat Scratch Fever," "Hey Baby," "Dog Eat Dog" and "Wango Tango," among others, made his first indelible impression as the lead guitarist for Amboy Dukes. His guitar work slashed through their biggest hit, "Journey To The Center of the Mind." His guitar so dominated the band that they soon became Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes. Even though their biggest hit was in '68 Nugent kept the band on the road and working into the '70s. He was also anti-drugs, a rarity for the time. Nugent was so opposed to controlled substances that he fired band members even suspected of drug abuse.
Foretelling his future, Nugent also engaged in live guitar battles with the alleged heavyweights of the time: Mike Pinera of the latter day Iron Butterfly and New Catcus Band, Wayne Kramer of MC5 and Mahogany Rush's Frank Marino. The key to Nugent and his guitar playing was a fiery exuberance and freedom not easily duplicated. The playing was as "in-your-face" as the persona. There was nothing in Nugent's demeanor, aside from his anti-drug stance, that could be called P.C. Most of his songs had blatant sexual connotations or themes. And the more people objected to them, or his hunting, the more Nugent loved it. Controversy equaled attention.
By the mid-'70s Nugent was solo. He produced a series of million-selling studio and live albums. Nugent, like other Rock stars, also fell afoul of the law. But it wasn't for the usual Rock star stuff. No, Nugent was busted for carrying a concealed weapon, usually a Bowie knife, or for hunting violations. He did most of his hunting with a bow and arrow. Once he donated deer venison to feed the hungry.
Signed by Atlantic in the mid-'80s, the steam left Nugent's career. He even parked for awhile in Damn Yankees with Styx guitarist Tommy Shaw, Night Ranger Jack Blades and drummer Michael Cartellone. It turned out to be a moderately successful venture.
Nugent appeared in VH1's '06 reality series Supergroup with vocalist Evan Seinfeld (Biohazard), vocalist Sebastian Bach (Skid Row), guitarist Scott Ian (Anthrax) and drummer Jason Bonham. Unfortunately, more time was spent on Bach and Seinfeld's drinking and the fall-out from that, than on the music.
Just when it looked as though Nugent was lost in the northern Michigan woods he returned with another blast, '07's "Love Grenade." It was his first studio effort since '02's "Craveman" and featured an updated version of "Journey To The Center Of Your Mind." "It's probably more sassy than the original, which is really quite a bold, brazen claim," said Nuge.
Given he is probably best remembered for his loin-cloth stage attire, conservative rants and dead-on skill as a hunter, it seemed fitting that Nugent's major '09 honor was being inducted into the National Bowhunters Hall of Fame.
1975 Ted Nugent
1977 Cat Scratch Fever
1978 Weekend Warriors
1979 State of Shock
1980 Scream Dream
1986 Little Miss Dangerous
1988 If You Can't Lick 'Em...Lick 'Em
1995 Spirit Of The Wild
2007 Love Grenade
2014 Shutup & Jam!
Terrible Ted Nugent's career has been spotty at best. "Journey To The Center of the Mind" with the Amboy Dukes was Ted's first brush with fame. That song is all that's really worth remembering from the "legendary" Amboy Dukes. Through the late '70s and '80s Nugent rifled out an album a year but "Cat Scratch Fever" is the one. Not only does this album contain his best known song, it also is a hard, crotch Rockin' pagan party.
Nuge must be getting old because he spends a considerable amount of "Love Grenade" firmly stating that he still has it. No doubt. Once again, he melds sex and violence and an underdog mentality - put upon by hippies, commies and liberals - people who are "magnum cum loudmouths" (that pun was likely lifted from the Hoodoo Gurus' '89 album).
Politics aside, Nuge Rocks with authority (if not a whole lot of imagination) and has no trouble slipping in sexual innuendoes. Hey, he's from the Midwest with a down and dirty (regularly raunchy), meat and potatoes attack. If that doesn't cut it, you're probably just some sissy, limp-wristed lefty who hates guns and wants higher taxes. Damn it! Right is right, bud.
Nuge's remake of "Journey To The Center Of The Mind" is strong but the original is still the mind-blower. "Love Grenade" closes with a slow electric Blues number, "Lay With Me" that is actually very good - and very unexpected.