Ted Nugent believes he is God, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. He comes as close to running his own life as anyone I ever met, controlling everyone from his musicians to his truck drivers right down to his last T-shirt seller. Nugent is God in his own world, and he has something to say to the rest of us who would rather drink beer and watch TV.
The problem with such a universe is that you need to duke it out with a credible Satan now and then to establish dramatic tension. Like Muhammad Ali getting into the ring with a fourth-rate fighter, Nugent battles straw men. "Anyone who wants to get mellow," he tells the audience before "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang," "can turn around and get the fuck out of here." Such talk requires all the courage of Richard Nixon denouncing radicals at the Republican convention: "Ladies and gentlemen, I have in my hand a list of 207 card-carrying members of the Mellow Peril, now sitting in this very auditorium."
The point is that Nugent must establish imaginary tension against nonexistent scapegoats because there is no real tension within his band. No Jagger Richard tension, no Plant Page tension, no Rotten Jones tension. Though competent, Nugent's band is completely dominated by its leader's overwhelming guitar playing and personality (out of nineteen photographs on the jacket, nineteen are of Nugent).
In all fairness, this music is the best heavy metal in a long time, and given the genre's generally mildewed state, things aren't likely to improve in the foreseeable future. I know I'll return to Double Live Gonzo! occasionally for a shot of Nugent's energy (particularly "Baby, Please Don't Go," his old Amboy Dukes hit, and "Cat Scratch Fever"). Nugent's voice seems to be maturing, but I still think he needs a vocalist or another instrumentalist to challenge his talent on guitar and wrestle his ego.
"This guitar is guaranteed to blow the balls off a charging rhino at sixty paces," Ted Nugent announces before "Hibernation." Next time, I hope the guitar misses and the rhinoceros rams its horn up Nugent's assnot far enough to do any serious damage, just far enough to remind him that if he really were God, he wouldn't have a hole there. (RS 261)
CHARLES M. YOUNG
(Posted: Mar 23, 1978)
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