Ted’s Rock and Roll Update

Published bi-monthly in Ted Nugent’s ADVENTURE OUTDOORS
© October-November 1999

Most recording artists only have the luxury of one, maybe two monster albums in the span of their career. Ted Nugent, on the other hand, loads up the CD shelves with an impressive stack of 25 molten geetar giants. On June 22 of this year, Sony Legacy reissued three, bone-crushing Nugent classics including Ted Nugent (1975), Free For All (1976), and Cat Scratch Fever (1977). The discs are considered by many to be the quintessential “Motor City Madman” collection and were reissued with bonus tracks to boot. “We took them in chronological order,” states Sony's reissue producer, Bruce Dickinson. “There was no hard and fast rule for why we did the first three, it just made sense in Ted's case. One thing we knew for sure: we could make them sound a whole hell of a lot better than when they first came out on CD.”

Sony has given the first three fire-breathing scorchers the full treatment complete with state-of-the-art, 20-bit mastering done by Vic Anesini; liner notes by award-winning, syndicated music journalist Gary Graff; and rare, vintage photographs. Greeting the listener right off the bat is the pristine sound and immaculate care taken in the production and feel of the reworked gems. Dickinson stresses that each track was overhauled to bring out the best from the archived tapes. "We took these straight from the quarter inch, two-track masters," says Dickinson. “It's like being an archaeologist because you find things that haven't been heard before.”

A concern in doing a reissue project is the sound quality and condition of the original masters. Says Dickinson, "Tom Werman and Lou Futterman [the original producers] did a great job to begin with. Most of the problems we had to deal with were the limitations of the day and the age of the tapes. A lot of seventies vintage recording tape does not hold up well." Today's technology helped give the recordings more definition and a full, dense range with no sacrifice to the original sound. “I'm a big fan of vinyl,” says Dickinson, “but I think we beat the vinyl in this case.”

Ted's first solo venture after leaving the Amboy Dukes in 1974 was simply titled Ted Nugent and featured the Detroit “soul brothers”--Nugent (guitar, vocals), Derek St. Holmes (rhythm guitar, vocals), Rob Grange (bass), Cliff Davies (drums). It went platinum, selling in excess of two million copies and lodging a top 30 spot on the Billboard chart. The CDs continued brisk sales made it a top candidate for a re-release. This newest incarnation boasts four bonus tracks (three of which are live), including “Stormtroopin,” “Just What The Doctor Ordered,” and “Motor City Madhouse” taken from a Hammersmith, London, show in 1977. An unreleased outtake “Magic Party,” also found on Ted's box set, Out of Control, was added as well. “There were other alternate takes,” mentions Dickinson, “but I didn't feel they added anything. Ted's a fantastic player and he basically gets it right the first time.”

Free For All, with the guest vocals of Meatloaf, gave Ted another top 30 album and score with the title track and the FM hit, “Dog Eat Dog.” Live versions of “Free For All” and “Dog Eat Dog” spice up the CD as bonus cuts while an alternate take of “Street Rats” gives it the ultimate “cool” polish.

But it was Nugent's Cat Scratch Fever that set the radio station request lights aflame in 1977. Introducing the album's leading hit as the “sexiest guitar riff ever written,” Ted nightly preaches this feminine tale to a sea of manic fans that mouth the words to every line. The record itself is a solid slice of good ol' American rock and roll played with an “American-made” Gibson Birdland through a wall of Marshalls and guests Alan Spenner and Bad Company's Boz Burrell. Two bonus tracks were added to Cat Scratch Fever including live versions of “Cat Scratch Fever” and “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang.” “All the live tracks on all three reissues came from the same 1977 Hammersmith, London, show,” says Dickinson. “It was so exciting the way it was; it's the essence of rock and roll in it's purest form--a magic, great, energetic performance!”

In 1965, Ted joined his first major touring outfit, the Amboy Dukes. The quasi-psychedelic sextet roamed the highways, byways, and dusty hills, eventually scoring a hit with “Journey to the Centre Of The Mind” in 1968. By the early '70's, the band started calling itself “Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes” after its star attraction. Adding some history to the Ted Nugent story is a fourth Sony reissue titled “Loaded For Bear”. Essentially a greatest hits package of the Ted Nugent/Amboy Dukes days, the CD does host a number of pre-solo Nugent thrillers.

by Todd K Smith