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TED NUGENT Love Grenade Eagle EAGCD362 (2007)

Ted Nugent

'I am convinced that the dynamo of my wonderful music is a direct result of this rather adventurous, gratifying gregarious & diverse lifestyle I share with my fellow shit-kickers across this great land. Let us never forget that America, tho far from perfect, is indeed the last best place on earth to be the best that one can be. Freedom remains the battle cry of the independents.'

Welcome to the world of Ted 'The Nuge' Nugent, a man who does indeed aspire to be the best he can possibly be, though outside of his well deserved reputation as a speed riff meister, you do wonder just what it is he aspires to be. The many references to his 'outrageous musical journey' are in part as much a reference to his powers of musical longevity as to the music itself, but then the one thing 'Love Grenade' does confirm is that the man retains all the energy levels and speed riffs of a rocker a third of his age!

For a man with so many off stage contradictory facets, two things remain constant in the world of Ted Nugent. One aspect is his excess of volume, his hackneyed lyrics and a larger than life persona that remains undiminished as he moves into his fifth decade of rocking.

Secondly and more importantly, his razor sharp guitar work, born of speedy licks and raucous slide runs still set the standard for all purveyors of Gonzo rock. Of course the irony at the heart of Nuge's persona is that the one threatens to cancel out the other, in as much as many rock fans will not get beyond the crude visual and lyrical misogyny of the album cover and lyrics, let alone the very dubious back cover which features a little boy with huge grenade. As far as metaphors go, this is confusing to say the least. Yet in one way that's a shame because Nuge's blurred dividing line between his reactionary politico persona and self parodying, fun filled explosive gonzo rock is probably lost on too many to rescue his powerhouse rocking from being sidelined in a time warped lay-by.

The opening brace of rockers come close to the stadium rock of AC/DC before Nuge goes for the throat on the outrageous 'Funk U' on which he delivers an incredible primal scream that would defeat most 59 year olds, and would certainly scare away the likes of Gillan and Plant.

But hey this is the man who returns to his rock roots on a reprise of his late 60's Amboy Dukes classic 'Journey to the Centre of the Mind'. This career highlight is another contradiction in terms, being a classic piece of psychedelic rock who's meaning old uncle Ted still claims he knew nothing about at the time! But deep lyrical meaning aside, this is a slice of classic stomp rocking complete with twin guitar overdrive that is every bit as visceral now as it was all those years ago, and climaxes with another Ted style primal scream.

Further thematic contradictions are explored on the next four songs on which the funky speed metal rocking of 'Geronimo & Me', the fiery instrumental 'Eaglebrother', the bluesy riff driven and primordial drum pattern of 'Spirit of The Buffalo' and the hard driving 'Aborigine' all explore Ted's own take on the freedom of the individual. Ironically Ted's sense of 'rugged independence' outlined on 'Stand' is as much predicated on fighting an imagined adversary as it is on creating something positive. And as Ted leans into some serious guitar work to hammer home his message of less government intervention you can't help but wonder how rock ever became this reactionary.

That said on the gun toting 'Broadside' he works up a real head of steam with some more crunching riffs, and a repeated guitar motif that carries the impressive slice of rock to its logical conclusion. The following 'Bridge Over Troubled Daughters' (yes you read that right) is a number that embodies everything that rock should be a powerhouse shit kicking rhythm section and spiralling guitar solo's out there on the edge. When Ted rocks he rocks like no one else, but then he disappointingly closes with 'Lay with Me', a leaden bluesy slice of dirge which sounds like an afterthought on which he almost sounds his age!

The two bonus tracks, which are live cuts from Sweden redress the balance, with a reprise of 'Still Raising Hell', and the old Nuge classic 'Cat Scratch Fever'. The latter comes across as a slightly sparse, ragged and throaty outing that is saved by a sing along chorus. For such an individualist here is the final ironic twist of falling back on safety in numbers!

***

Review by Pete Feenstra

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly


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