For sheer jubilant ferocity in recent hard rock, Ted Nugent has only himself to top, and he does it on Cat Scratch Fever, a manic meditation on good sex, difficult sex, imaginary sex and Alice Cooper. Alice Cooper? That's what a song called "Death by Misadventure" seems to be about, though why Nugent has chosen to give Alice the raspberry is hard to fathom. Ted Nugent does not reason as do you or I, my friends.
But "Death by Misadventure" is atypical Nugent, anyway. The prime stuff on Cat Scratch Fever is the title song, "Workin'Hard, Playin' Hard" and the numbing "Out of Control." Nugent's greatest contribution to rock has been his depiction of American male life as one long Saturday night bender. Ted knows that the slap-happy goons he sings about don't get half the action and the highs they claim they do, and that the pose well played is what it's all aboutif you act macho, you are macho.
Nugent's music here is, as usual, spiritedly rudimentary, his guitar style being an amalgam of innumerable heavy-metal quotations raised to fascination by the speed and cunning with which he runs through them. His singing is pleasantly ordinary, its only distinction the tinge of desperation Nugent dabs onto his portraits of eternal partying. The real tension of his music resides in his playing and singing so fiercely about things that are so goofy. It's what makes a song like "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" as funny as the cover of this album, on which a typically snarling Nugent is revealed, on the reverse side, actually to be grimacing in sheepish pain as his chest is clawed by a woman. Wit, reparation to Women against Violence against Women, and proof that Ted is a victim of scratch fever himself, all in one neat image. Such concision is what makes Cat Scratch Fever the terrific record it is. (RS 244)
(Posted: Jul 28, 1977)
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