Full Bluntal Nugity

Ted Nugent

Spitfire, 2002

REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/09/2005

Live performance has always been the heaviest weapon in Ted Nugent's arsenal. With few exceptions, the studio rarely does justice to his madness. On stage, his performances are skilled and powerful. Behind the manic political pariah and psycho wildman the press loves to vilify, is a gifted musician and entertainer whose live shows are legendary.

It's a shame that many people only see the gun-nut in animal hides, and not the former teenage guitar prodigy whose skill has been compared by many to the likes of Hendrix and Clapton. The press loves to show us his latest excess, and political venues vie for his attention. Wherever he goes, people pay attention, waiting for the next outrage or political rant. The press, the charts, and the critics might not be kind to him nowadays, but the audiences he packs into every venue obviously don't give a fuck about popular opinion. For over 30 years he's prowled the stages and lost none of his fire and bravado, and thankfully none of his wicked guitar chops.

I first saw Ted in 1977 in Oakland, CA. in front of a crown of 30,000, when Ted was the biggest concert draw in the world. For a big chunk of the '70s no one filled more arenas than The 10 Fingers of Doom. I've seen him perform many times after that, most recently from the security pit of a small arena in Kansas, where the decibel level hovered in a range somewhere between a jet engine and the detonation of Krakatoa. As a public service to our faithful readers, I highly advise you to never watch the Nuge from that close if you can help it. Despite the damage done to my sensory nerves, I was exhilarated to find that Ted hadn't lost a step. He rampaged through a killer set of classics and no one went home disappointed. That energy has been captured live, once again, and better than ever.

Chronicling Ted live has been the mainstay of his career. In 2001 he was captured live once again on Full Bluntal Nugity, 12 tracks of Motor City madness recorded on his home turf of Detroit playing a New Years Eve show for his homies, who worship Ted as reverently as they did decades ago when few artists challenged Ted for record and ticket sales.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Backing up Ted is one of the godfathers of drumming, the incredible Tommy Aldridge. Tommy's power and style have made him a legend in classic rock circles, and Ted's bombastic attack is the perfect fit for Tommy's brand of controlled mayhem. Marco Mendoza fills out the trio on bass and backing vocals. He's a solid player; and it says a lot that he can keep up with the likes of Aldridge and the Nuge. Ted wisely avoids most of his post-'70s material in this set, which even an ardent fan (like me) will admit lacks the exuberant smarm and bad-boy high jinks of his glory days. Instead, he chooses mainly familiar material. The old songs are given a good spit-and-polish and they sound better than ever, frankly. The live venue is where Uncle Ted forges his best weapons, and he uses them with fierce abandon to slay this sycophantic hometown crowd. A lot, and I mean A LOT of artists in Ted's position; decades past their biggest successes and treading the boards of smaller venues; just go through the motions. Ted has NEVER just gone through the motions. He treats every show like his life depends on cranking the crowd up into a frothing, screaming mob. His stage banter and interaction show a man who loves his job, loves his fans, and would throw himself on his own spear before he gave less than 110% to every performance.

Uncle Ted wastes no time in blasting his fans into mega-sonic bliss. The stomping instrumental "KLSTRPHK" opens the set, and then gives way to "Paralyzed," which has become one of my favorite tracks of this set. Ted shows his amazing guitar chops in a frenzied shred-fest in this gem from his late '70s heyday. "Snakeskin Cowboys" from his debut album starts off a string of tried-and-true arena shakers including the manic "Free For All,""Hey Baby" (Ted's hard rocking take on Chicago blues), and the obligatory "Cat Scratch Fever."

One of the treats in this set surprisingly, is Ted showing a rare moment of restraint in an acoustic version of "Fred Bear." Surprising because of the introspective and gentle nature of this song about Ted's love of the outdoors, and the respect he has for the wild places he prowls. Introspective is an unusual description for anything with Ted's mark on it, but he displays a devout reverence for the natural world. It is well known that Nugent is an ardent supporter of wilderness conservancy and reforestation, and that devotion to nature comes across in this track.

Naturally Ted throws in a couple of love songs for the ladies, the tender "Yank Me Crank Me" and his ode to the fairer sex, "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang." Then they get down to serious business with a rock-solid, ten-minute version of the proto-metal "Stranglehold." They close the show with a short-but-satisfying rendition of a classic from Ted's Amboy Dukes days, the sprawling "Great White Buffalo," and finish off with Ted's favorite closer, "Motor City Madhouse."

The quality of the recording is far superior to any of Ted's previous live releases. Ted, never hailed as a great singer, is in very good voice. His chops are as razor-sharp as they ever were and the energy of hosting a New Year's Eve show on his home turf is evident in his interaction with the crowd. This is easily the best stuff Ted has committed to tape for two decades. Some of the material rehashes his glorious heyday a la Double Live Gonzo, but the stripped down band and the lean, crispness of the recording make this well worth a place in the CD collection of any fan of the Motor City Madman.

Rating: B+

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