Ted Nugent’s first compilation album collects his best-known tracks with Epic Records and slams them into one 10 track CD of guitar-screaming good times! The album has gone twice platinum and continues to capture listeners 30 years later with tracks like “Stranglehold”, “Free-For-All”, and his infamous “Cat Scratch Fever”.
Outrageous antics and extreme behavior have always been essential ingredients of high-volume rock 'n' roll.
The hedonistic exploits of The Who and Led Zeppelin, the demonic pursuits of Black Sabbath and the sexual promiscuity of KISS are all the stuff of legend-music mythology for the masses. But for every genuine article, there are a dozen rock cliches who have substituted image and attitude for real artistic vision. To the unenlightened, Ted Nugent's career in the '70s might look a bit like an overblown cartoon. Bare-chested and wrapped in a loincloth, the self-ascribed "Motor City Madman" seemed too good to be true - a sex-crazed metallic guitar slinger who fired off savage riffs and bluesy leads with the same passion and skill he used to bow hunt wild animals. But make no mistake, Ted Nugent is as real as taxes, and his commitment to conservatism, family values and the right to bear arms is only matched by his dedication to create energetic, hair-raising song craft.
Sure critics have scoffed at his public guitar showdowns with Wayne Kramer (MC5), Frank Marino (Mahogany Rush) and Mike Pinera (Iron Butterfly), and were skeptical of his claims that he didn't drink or take drugs. But as was so often the case in his 32 year career, Nugent has had the last and loudest laugh. His exhaustive 300-plus date-per-year touring schedule throughout the late '70s, along with his rebellious power-anthems and his unapologetic obsession with killing and eating his own game, earned him respect and admiration amongst a new generation of working class rebels who flocked to him as the party and "Poontang" messiah, and drove his record sales to elipse 20 million copies worldwide.
Although it didn't explode right out of the gate, the Nuge's 1975 debut, Ted Nugent
, eventually sold two million copies, and featured the rowdy blues-rocker "Just What The Doctor Ordered," as well as the storming, guitar-blaring "Motor City Madhouse" and the sprawling eight-minute opus "Stranglehold," which, like most of the Nuge's oeuvre, was punctuated with stunning guitar work. From that first album, Nugent laid down the gauntlet to break rules and defy expectations, which is something he's done to this very day, whether rocking steady, hosting a conservative morning radio show in Detroit or founding the Ted Nugent Kamp for Kids, and Ted Nugent Bow Hunting School.
Proving he was no one-trick pony, Nugent struck back with the double platinum, Free-For-All
the following year, which included vocals by Meat Loaf and highlighted some fine, ass-shaking rhythms - especially the title cut, which is driven by stellar twin guitar leads. Also notable is "Dog Eat Dog," a pulse-pounding rocker with a chant-along chorus and serpentine solo.
But it was the blue collar rock staple "Cat Scratch Fever" (from the 1977 album of the same name
) that really turned the Motor City Madman into an arena rock act. The song is rooted around a penetrating power chord riff, and heightened by a simple, emotive guitar lick that weaves through the infectious chorus. Shortly after "Cat Scratch Fever" struck airwaves, the album rocketed up the charts and quickly went double platinum, boosting the total sales of Nugent's first two solo discs as well. Also released that year was the two-album set Double Live Gonzo
, in which Nugent proclaimed his raunchy raison d'etre in the introduction for "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang": "Anybody that wants to get mellow you can turn around and get the fuck out of here. This is a love song we'd like to dedicate to all that Nashville Pussy." The live disc showcased Nugent at his most untamed, ripping through solo after solo on his Gibson Birdland while his bandmates vamped and the excitement level rose. Elsewhere, Nugent injects the blues standar "Baby Please Don't Go" with a dose of pure adrenaline, and keeps the sexual energy well seasoned on "Yank Me, Crank Me."
He followed Double Live Gonzo in 1978 with the million-selling Weekend Warriors, and Stern Electronics honored his achievements soon after by issuing a Ted Nugent Pinball game. Nuge's next disc, 1979's State of Shock
went gold, and spawned the dizzying cut "Paralyzed," which blended psychedelic wah-wah-saturated guitars with a bluesy foundation and a propulsive beat. Although 1980's Scream Dream
wasn't one of Nugent's most successful albums, it included the churning sleaze anthem "Wango Tango," with its surging two-chord riff and whimsical "hoo-hoo" female background vocals.
The Nuge's greatest hits album Great Gonzos was originally released in 1981, but the new digitally remastered version contains three additional tracks, "Yank Me, Crank Me," "Homebound," and the brand new "Give Me Just A Little," which proves definitively that the Motor City Madman is still at the top of his game. "Starting with a muted lick, the cut builds into a triumphant riff-rocker before bursting out with a rousing, infectious chorus that's as catchy as Van Halen's 'Hot For Teacher.'"
Ted Nugent's liberating, powerful rock has always revolved around congregated masses, which explains why he was the top grossing tour act of 1977, '78 and '79, and why, even though his emphasis in the '90s shifted to political, social and environmental concerns, he continues to draw a packed crowd wherever he plays. In addition, Nugent remains one of the most influential guitarists, both for the crop of hard rockers that sprouted after his peak, and for a new generation of axe-slingers dismayed by the lethargy and inarticulate quality of so much of today's alternative music. Just as quick listen to "Cat Scratch Fever," "Stranglehold," "Free-For-All" or "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" confirms Nugent's song writing prowess, conveying as much attitude, energy and raw sexuality as they did when they were first conceived. You may not agree with his politics, but you can't argue with his creative output. The Nuge still impacts like a crossbow bolt between the eyes.
- Jon Wiederhorn
© 1980 Sony Music Entertainment Inc. / (P) 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1999 Sony Music Entertainment Inc. / Manufactured by Epic, A Division of Sony Music / 550 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022-3211 / "Epic," "Legacy" and L
Reg U.S. Pat. & Tm
Original recordings produced by Lew Futterman, Tom Werman and Cliff Davies
Produced for Reissue by Bruce Dickinson
Mastered by Vic Anseni, Sony Music Studios, New York
Legacy A&R: Steve Berkowitz
Project Director: Stephan Moore
A&R Coordinator: Patti Matheny & Darren Salmeri
Reissue Art Direction: Howard Fritzson
Design: Smay Vision
Packaging Manager: Lily Lew
CD: Front & back cover of booklet (from original LP):
page 2 © Steven R. Nickerson;
pages 4-5 © Matt Sherlock;
page 7 © Michael Ochs Archives/Venice, CA;
CD tray © Jay Blakesberg/Retna Ltd.;
CD photo by Neil ZLozower, back cover by Dwayne Sycz
Special thanks to: Doug Banker, Jessica Spilos and all at Madhouse Management, John Kalodner, Leslie Lango
Sony International released this in Japan in 2000 with bonus tracks.