Ted Nugent

Sweden Rocks [DVD]

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Somehow, the concept of Ted Nugent performing in Sweden (or, heck, anywhere outside these "glorious" 50 states) doesn't quite compute -- he does know they've got a socialist government over there, right? And yet there was his Ted-ness, on June 10, 2006, mowing down attendees at the rather obviously named Sweden Rock Festival with his trusty Gibson Birdland for what, as proved by this release, was a very upbeat and fan-friendly set brimming with his late-'70s classics like "Stormtrooper," "Wango Tango," "Dog Eat Dog," and of course "Cat Scratch Fever." But as timeless as these tracks remain, on this occasion only a handful really leap out of the speakers with the vengeance required by experienced Gonzo acolytes -- specifically "Snakeskin Cowboys," which is given a slower, sexed-up romp in the sack, the evergreen scorcher, "Free for All," the deservedly epic guitar clinics throughout the sensual and terrifying "Stranglehold," and his ultimate calling card, "Great White Buffalo." The only newer material to get an airing is the politically tricky but musically quite decent "Raw Dogs & War Hogs" (dedicated to the troops), from 2002's Craveman, and the totally forgettable "Raising Hell," from 2007's Love Grenade. The only all-out surprise comes with a one-minute stab at Sam & Dave's Stax classic, "Soul Man," which he then proceeds to credit it to Motown by mistake; and the only unsolved mystery (credits aren't a strong suit of this release) is who the guy singing "Hey Baby" (the old Derek St. Holmes nugget) is, because it sure ain't Ted. Meanwhile, the surprisingly long-tenured rhythm section of bassist Barry Sparks and drummer Mick Brown (on loan from Dokken) wisely stay out of the boss' way, and although it's been years since Nugent has even considered bringing along a second guitar player, his six-string skills are still formidable enough to carry the load on their own (see the extended soloing on "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang"). Finally, since any Ted Nugent concert must also be rated on its in-between-song banter, it should be noted that Sweden Rocks provides a few of the man's usual combination of expletive-laced braggadocio and Detroit City references (rather queer, considering he's long resided in Texas), tweaked by an odd new habit of wrapping several songs by shouting "clusterf**k me!" Huh? Anyway, Nugent on a bad night is still a showman the likes of which rock & roll rarely seems capable of producing anymore, and since Sweden Rocks finds him on a decent -- though not transcendental -- night, this should be "Just What the Doctor Ordered" for most of this fans (wait, why'd he leave that song off this time around?).

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