TED NUGENT - Craveman
October 7, 2002, 17 years ago
Ted's always been an impressive figure and a top-flight trash talker to boot. Much of that talk was, and is, justified, but you always had to humour him a little when he went on about how he was God's gift to steaming piles of red-blooded rock 'n' roll. Fact is, every record from the man in the last 20 years - post-Scream Dream; roughly half his post-Amboy Dukes catalogue - was a miserable mess of dated, timid, casual, toothless, half-hearted, often dowdy, often compromised mid-rock fodder. You were laughing at him, not with him; he truly had no clue - hard rock had out-stepped, out-classed and out-muscled him and he was too old to know. Let me say this, I think the guy is incredible as a human being, an ass-kicking inspiration and a huge part of my rock 'n' roll youth, his self-titled debut being the first from his catalogue I bought as a new release, the Spokane date of his Free For All tour being my first big city concert. But the chink in his armour for me, the Santa boxers under the loincloth, was that for two decades, the records wilted next to the walk. It is no longer of consequence. If I stare hard, bear-hug objectivity and leach all the deadly Tedly nostalgia out of my examination, analysis and verdict, Craveman is the best record the man-eater has ever made. I was not encouraged. The cover art, despite a spot of embossing, is awful. So are the song titles, although the name of the album... very cool. Outside of a couple hee-hawers late into the actual music part of the package (American Dog's Michael Hannon made a good point: Ted should have picked the best 10 songs and called off the dogs), this is where all laughing and all skepticism ends. Craveman rocks the carnivores, it blows the doors, it grinds out grooves found only within the manic dementia of Ted live, which, given a couple views in the '00s, upheld the flame of the man's professed and proudly stated game. This record is so good, so heavy, so wild of spirit, so well-executed, recorded and conceptualized, I have to remove some of the credit from Ted himself. I would surmise, rightly or wrongly, his ass must have been kicked all over his acreage by that young spud of a drummer, Tommy Clufetos, a monster in the image of Tommy Lee, and Ted's chosen fat stringer Marco Mendoza, Mr. Rock 'n' Roll his bad-ass tanned self. Talk about power trio. I mean, it's hard to tell (well, OK 30 minutes I don't have would sort it all out) but the vocal chores seem to be a glorious gangbang by all three firecrackers and the results smoke. Hot damn, I mean, you listen to 'Change My Sex' or 'Crave' or 'Rawdogs & Warhogs' or 'I Won't Go Away' or 'Pussywhipped' or 'Goin Down Hard' and tell me this isn't gleaming, glinting, slicing guitar rock of a drooling, red-eyed nature. Ted is on fire as a guitarist, the tone is legion, the soloing musical and intelligent, and the riffs... again, they are so good, I gotta expect them to be collaborations with Tommy and Marco. Either that, or Ted wakes up and sucks the blood out of a big bowl of vampire bats every morning. Still, it's quite cut and dried: I'll foist a draft with Michael Hannon and agree that you could have surgically sliced off the last four tracks, left ten, and I'd have given this a 10 (strange concept that: a complete absence of music being preferred over bad music). In any event, I'm just bloody well chuffed that Ted's biggest, baddest weapon of his prodigious armoury is once again, one of his records.