Friday, February 1, 2008

Ted Nugent -- "Cat Scratch Fever" (1977)

Ted Nugent -- aka "The Nuge" aka "The Motor City Madman" -- always provided the most entertaining funniest interviews in 70's rock magazines, hands down. There were plenty of loud hard rock acts touring incessantly to every arena dump in the land, and plenty of them could come up with dumb double-entendre song titles that could rival any hair metal band.

Nugent, however, had nothing extraordinary about him except his over-the-top personality, worship of hunting, calling everybody else a wussy, and misogynist treatment of women.

Let's just go through some of Nugent's song title catalog to get an idea of what he was contributing to American culture in his first heyday: "Turn It Up," "Hard As Nails," "Violent Love," "Spit It Out," "Snake Charmer," "Bite Down Hard," and the mightily subtle "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" (these are just titles, the lyrics truly open up these concepts!).

So he's touring and making records, and with some luck actually comes up with a few minor FM tunes produced by unsung rock producer Tom Werman ("Dog Eat Dog," "Free For All," "Strangehold").

Along the way, he's the definition of Mr. Quotable in every rock magazine at the time, like this gem from an August 1977 issue of Rolling Stone when Japanese journalists walk into his Philadelphia hotel room: "Tell them Nips that I've never read anything about me from Japan that wasn't disgusting bullshit." Later, he screams at them: "Animals were put here for human beings to use! Anyone who says that man is not a predator is a sap."

One can easily devote an entire web site to Ted Nugent quotes. But I digress from the music....

The stars align for Nugent on the title song of his 1977 Epic album Cat Scratch Fever -- a completely original guitar riff of an A chord climbing up to the C chord keeping the A bass. It's a wicked package of trademark 70's hard rock with a highly distorted solo, the shaker moving in on the solo (an old Rolling Stones trick), and a theatrical double-fake ending. This was his one big breakthrough top 40 hit, deservedly so for the best thing he ever wrote. Oh, and let's sample those lyrics...

Well I don't know where they come from
But they sure do come
I hope they comin' for me
And I don't know how they do it
But they sure do it good
I hope they doin' it for free

They give me cat scratch fever
Cat scratch fever

The first time that I got it
I was just ten years old
I got it from some kitty next foor
I went and see the doctor and
He gave me the cure
I think I got it some more

They give me cat scratch fever
Cat scratch fever

You wanna see a taste of The Nuge in his 70's white-spandex pants, no shirt, spiked amulets, mile long hair, real animal tail hanging off his butt, Gibson-totin' prime? Feast your eyes on the classic 1978 clip when he hosted the "Midnight Special" TV show. Check out the acts performing on the show that night (AC/DC, Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, Golden Earring, REO Speedwagon, Thin Lizzy!), all announced by the late great Wolfman Jack!

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