Ted Nugent Bites Into And Eats The Beating Heart Out Of America
Strike while the iron’s hot I say. Ted Nugent seems to be hot all over America again. I’m not sure why this time. Having long ago given up on mainstream media (I get most of my news from Trouser Press and Creem Magazine), I can only surmise that all this watercooler talk about Ted Nugent must be about one thing – his liberal use of guitar savagery! America, I’ll never figure out how you work, but I love you. By the way, so does former President Jimmy Carter who, though being a small man, has a big heart for this country. And one suspects, a big love of Ted Nugent’s music.
Within Ted Nugent’s oeuvre, this particular album – Tooth, Fang & Claw – is actually credited to Ted Nugent’s Amboy Dukes. It came out in The Year Of Our Lord Nineteen Hundred and Seventy Four and it fills an interesting niche. That niche being the Middle Ages between the Amboy Duke’s psychedelic late 1960s and early 70s chugging ooze and the late 70s guitar-as-shotgun solo music assault on the senses that became “Ted Nugent” the man. And, not surprisingly, the band. My thinking is that by 1974, Ted Nugent still liked the name Amboy Dukes and thought it was helpful to him on his journey to becoming the Motor City Madman. He appears to be right.
Any way you slice it, this album is a heavy rocker. Some of you who may not be familiar with this period of Ted’s work might dismiss it as overly sentimental or light-hearted. It isn’t. It’s got a loud, kerranging, crunching approach not without humor and a soft supple side. Now that you’re intrigued, let’s dive into the tracks on the album.
Lady Luck leads things off. No it’s not about gambling. It’s about the Virginia Slims generation. You’ve come a long way, baby and Uncle Ted doesn’t want you to forget it. I think this track is written as a gift to Gloria Steinem. Living in the Woods is exactly what you think it is – a romantic story about Ted’s upbringing by mother wolf and father bear. The first side of this record ends with a long instra-mental and it’s called Hibernation. I challenge any of you to sleep through this one! It gives your insides a kind of primordial body shake. You’re almost afraid to flip the record to hear side two.
Do it anyway. Something amazing happens. The second side begins with another non-vocal workout. This one’s called Free Flight and it’s sensational. I think it shows off Ted’s sensitive side as it dips and ascends into rock ‘n’ roll inner-space. I think it’s about the history of American altruism but how can you tell when there are no words? Give it a listen and you’ll see what I mean. The next cut – Maybelline – was written by Chuck Berry as an ode to modern cosmetics. Nugent’s version is a weird interpretation. But worth hearing I think.
The Great White Buffalo deserves its own paragraph. It has nothing to do with the Dustin Hoffman movie - Little Big Man. You’ve heard it somewhere. You just forgot about it. America, come home to The Great White Buffalo. It was a concert favorite for years and I think it’s about an albino buffalo that looks like Edgar Winter but I can’t be sure.
Sasha is the meandering and beautifully toned acoustic-electric-mellow rocker your mom never knew Ted Nugent had in him. But he did! Now you can now laugh in your mom’s face! No Holds Barred is hard to categorize. I guess I’d call it a mounted gun for firing heavy projectiles type song. It closes out this long player and it’s a good finisher. It’s got plenty of moments where you think it might end but doesn’t. A fun-loving romp of an album that comes highly recommended.
So wash down your double cheeseburger with a can of beer and get out to your local record store to score this rock ‘n’ roll mutation.
For weirdos only: The Amboy Dukes, Ted Nugent and The Amboy Dukes, and Ted Nugent’s Amboy Dukes are tricky to follow. There are any number of albums, compilations and collections of different incarnations of these bands. While I might not get this right to the letter of the law, think of it this way. If the band is called The Amboy Dukes, the music was most likely recorded between 1967 - 1969 and is largely blues-based psychedelia that’s first rate (Journey To The Center Of The Mind being their most famous single). Anything called Ted Nugent’s Amboy Dukes or Ted Nugent and The Amboy Dukes is probably a heavy rocking affair that lives down around the corner from Ted’s hard-rocking stuff that ruled the FM airwaves in the late 70s. While right thinking people these days concern themselves with Ted Nugent’s “boorish” behavior, this writer finds his guitar work to be boarish in the best possible way. Keep smiling, weirdos.