Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Ted Nugent

  • Free-for-All [Epic, 1976] B-
  • Cat Scratch Fever [Epic, 1977] B
  • Great Gonzos: The Best of Ted Nugent [Epic, 1981] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Free-for-All [Epic, 1976]
Side one is well-wrought heavy metal--tensile and clever, reminiscent of Deke Leonard only clearer. Side two is the usual frantic melodrama. B-

Cat Scratch Fever [Epic, 1977]
Nugent may well have turned into a cartoon, but I prefer cartoon carnivores to cartoon vegetarians. And speaking of cartoons, better the Kiss imitation of today than the Robin Trowers of yesteryear--Ted is no more sexist than Kiss, and he sings better. Ten fast, simple, stupid rock and roll songs for guitar and shout, six or seven of which would keep anyone under thirty-five awake for four or five minutes on the interstate, and from here things can only go downhill. B

Great Gonzos: The Best of Ted Nugent [Epic, 1981]
Anybody who gets misty-eyed about the MC-5 owes it to himself (or herself, believe it or not) to ponder this Detroit boy's, well, let's call it his sexual rhetoric, which was virtually invented by the White Panthers. Maybe the when-in-doubt-whip-it-out of "Stranglehold" and "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" and "Free for All" are only metaphors, but as metaphors, well, let's just say they suck. And having done so, let's add with only slightly guilty pleasure that his musclebound gooniness is a hoot. It's an evasion to pass him off as a harmless joke, but it's a distortion to pretend that he or anyone in his audience takes his bullshit more than half seriously. From flash guitar to locomotive beat to secret tunes, he's an unreconstructed '60s survivor--the hippie-biker as feral sex fiend, terror of countless timid ninnies and nice people. One way or another, well, let's just say I get off on everything here, with the slobbering "Wango Tango" a special favorite. Rock and roll! B+

Further Notes:

Everything Rocks and Nothing Ever Dies [1990s]