Double Live Gonzo
Epic Records, 1978
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/26/1998
At the end of the '70s, Ted Nugent was the worst nightmare of both feminists and parents alike. Feminists hated him for some of his song titles, while parents were wringing their hands in desparation as Nugent grew in popularity.
The ferociousness of his live show was captured to vinyl on 1978's Double Live Gonzo, but 20 years later, the dosc proves two things: the live show is still the most difficult thing to capture on a recording, and no matter who or when, sex sells.
Recorded in various locations throughout 1976 and 1977, Nugent and his backing band were hitting the stage all guns blazing, ready to level the concertgoer from start to finish. But Double Live Gonzo proves there can be too much of a good thing, as Nugent and the band continually vamp to extend some songs. I always thought the point was to make your musical statement, then to get out.
For a good portion of the album, Nugent handles the lead vocals - and while he's never pretended to be a great singer, he handles the chores rather well. The excitement of the live show is evident as sometimes Nugent's diction takes a turn towards the unrecognizable. (It should be noted that Derek St. Holmes is unable to match the vocal power live that he showed on the studio efforts.)
Anyone who is offended by double entendres - aw, who am I kiddin', out and out sexuality, don't say you weren't warned. Titles like "Yank Me, Crank Me" and "Wang Dang, Sweet Poontang" let you know that this ain't Romper Room. Compared to some live albums, though, this one is rather tame - but don't let the wild man of rock hear me making that comment!
The biggest problem with Double Live Gonzo, besides a somewhat muddled sound (an old vinyl copy from the Pierce Archives is what I make that statement from), is an overall sense of boredom I got from the records. I mean, there's not really a question as to whether Nugent was a talented guitarist. But the extended guitar solo/showoff piece "Hibernation" lacked originality, while the songs from the first album - "Just What The Doctor Ordered", "Stormtroopin'", "Motor City Madhouse" - sounded very uninspired. You want to hear good versions, check out the Ted Nugent album. (Also, I have to admit I'm biased when it comes to "Baby, Please Don't Go" - no one will ever touch the version AC/DC cranked out in 1975.)
Some songs do stand out, though. "Great White Buffalo" is a nice surprise, while a rendition of the then-new song "Cat Scratch Fever" holds its own pretty well. But the sad fact is that while Double Live Gonzo is a nice album to dust off every once in a while, you can hear better versions of most of these songs on their corresponding studio albums.
The diehard Nugent fans, of course, will slobber over every note twisted out of his Gibson Byrdland, while classic rock afficionados will no doubt want to hear this to see what all the hype was about in the late '70s. Problem is that after listening to Double Live Gonzo again, even I'm still wondering what the big deal was.
If there was ever an album that was strictly for the fans, it has to be Double Live Gonzo - either that, or it's the perfect tool to use when trying to break your apartment lease. For anyone else, approach this one with caution.