In the 21st Century, and through the ears of
those from the Old Continent, understanding someone so genuinely American as Theodore 'Ted' Nugent (Detroit, 1948)
is a lot to ask. This is a man as contradictory as his own country is. A rocker
with a caveman's intellect who in all probability stands right behind Trump, with a mishmash of half-baked
ideas that put him between an extreme ecologist and the Amish. Quite simply,
the man is all over the place. He is also the successor to Charlton Heston in the powerful gun lobby that defends the
Americans' right to bear arms, but what really interests us is the Nugent that brandishes a very different
weapon – his Gibson Byrdland, shooting
out decibels of pure tone in the hands of this rock savage. Moreover, back in
1975, things were altogether different…
In the golden era of great guitarists, Ted Nugent soon outgrew The Amboy Dukes and decided to strike it out on his own. The services of Derek St. Holmes were recruited to provide support on rhythm guitar and backing vocals, Rob Grange on bass and Clifford Davies on drums, with the idea of recording his first album and proving that he could play as well or even better than the reigning guitar gods of the era. Moreover, he had a good voice and knew how to sing - and let fly his trademark bloodcurdling howls.
For those less aware of Nugent's work, the first track was the simply mind-blowing Stranglehold - eight long minutes showing all that he was capable of with a guitar in his hands and his Fender amplifiers turned up to the max, making his six strings quite literally roar. Now a more sombre man, the exactness with which he places his fingers on the fretboard to achieve such a clean tone is surprising after 35 years. That said, back in 1975 there wasn't the computer gadgetry to fill the cracks and iron out the creases; everything was done by hand and glued together with brute force.
This is the aperitif to the feast that comes later in the record. A bunch of songs that proved to be Nugent's best and that have been blasted out time and time again in the thousands (now more than 6,000) of live concerts he has given. They include Stormtroopin', Motor City Madhouse (dedicated to his home city, Detroit) and Just What the Doctor Ordered – one of the best masterclasses on how to play rock 'n' roll.
This is also Ted Nugent's most personal song, which in its very first verse makes it quite clear where he is coming from:
I got my guitar when I was ten years old
Found a love in rock an' roll
Now I'm on the verge of a nervous breakdown
I'm gonna give my body and soul
A life philosophy that ignores all ideology and just talks music, as yours truly could witness some years ago in Madrid. Nugent was playing just the day before the Red Hot Chili Peppers were to perform and halfway through the concert he announced that his "neighbour" was going to come up and play the drums alongside him: it was Chad Smith. They proceeded to rock the house out with Motor City Madhouse and Baby Please don't go… and we all know what these two homeboys get up to between barbecue and barbecue. Nugent, by the way, likes his meat verging on raw…