Cat Scratch Fever

Ted Nugent

Epic Records, 1977

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


You all probably know the old saying, "The third time's the charm." In the case of rocker Ted Nugent, that's kind of a misnomer. After all, his self-titled debut and Free-For-All were hardly failures, both creatively and commercially. If anything, Cat Scratch Fever continued in the vein of success for Nugent, capping what quite possibly was the best period of his career.

What's interesting about this particular disc is that it's only known for two songs, the title track and "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang," a song which sometimes I'm still surprised gets my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 any airplay for the use of that one word. (No, I'm not offended by it, but there are people who could find something sexually suggestive in a dial tone who probably could organize a bunch of like-minded closed-minded people to boycott a station who played it.) Granted, there's some filler on this album - but the same could be said for Nugent's two previous releases. But there's some strong material on Cat Scratch Fever that's just as worthy of your attention as the two hits.

Take "Death By Misadventure," a track featuring the lead vocals of Derek St. Holmes. (By this time, Nugent was the unquestioned leader of the band, in both guitar work and vocals.) If this track proved anything, it's that sometimes a different singer was perfect for the material, giving the Nuge the opportunity to grab his Gibson Byrdland and shred the absolute daylights out of it. While I admit I'm still in the process of re-educating myself in all things Nugent, this could possibly be his most underrated song and performance.

Likewise, tracks such as "A Thousand Knives" and "Home Bound" (the latter an instrumental) show off the songwriting skills of Nugent strongly. You can think what you want of the man, his politics and his sexual bravado, but it's songs like these that prove Nugent to be a songsmith.

With claims like that, it's a shame that Cat Scratch Fever has any filler... but it indeed does. Tracks like "Live It Up," "Fist Fightin' Son Of A Gun" and "Workin' Hard, Playin' Hard" are okay, but hardly measure up to the greatness encased on this disc. "Sweet Sally" is cut from the exact same musical pattern as "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" - if you're gonna copy your own licks, fine, just don't do it on the same album.

Still, on Cat Scratch Fever, the positives outweigh the negatives, and stands as one of Nugent's best albums in his career. If you can only own one of Nugent's platters, at this stage in my exploration of his work, I'd gladly take this one in a heartbeat.

Rating: B+

User Rating: B



© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.