The Amboy Dukes

The Amboy Dukes

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The debut album by the Amboy Dukes should be high on collectors' lists. Fusing the psychedelia of the early Blues Magoos with Hendrix riffs and British pop, the band which launched the legend of Ted Nugent has surprises galore in these lost grooves. More experimental than Ambrose Slade's Ballzy -- could you conceive of the Cat Scratch Fever guy performing on Peter Townshend's "It's Not True" and Joe Williams' classic "Baby Please Don't Go"? The latter tune was the flip side of the group Them's single "Gloria," but Ted Nugent and the boys totally twist it to their point-of-view, even tossing a complete Jimi Hendrix nick into the mix. The Amboy Dukes issued this as the single backed with their sitar-laden and heady "Psalms of Aftermath." "Baby Please Don't Go" is extraordinary, but isn't the hit single that "Journey to the Center of the Mind" would be from their follow-up LP titled after that radio-friendly gem. Producer Bob Shad's work with Vic Damone, Dinah Washington, and Sarah Vaughan wasn't what prepared him for the psychedelic hard rock of "Colors," a song with some of the experimentation Nugent would take further on the Survival of the Fittest, Live and Marriage on the Rocks/Rock Bottom albums further down the road. Those latter-day Dukes projects took themselves too seriously and got a bit too out there. The fun that is the Amboy Dukes take on the Ashford/Simpson/Armstead standard "Let's Go Get Stoned"; it's the kind of thing that could have stripped away the pretension of the post-Mainstream discs. The dancing piano runs and Ted Nugent confined to a pop-blues structure certainly got the benefit of Shad's record making experience, and it is a treat. Of the 11 tunes, seven are band originals. Taking on a faithful version of Cream's "I Feel Free" is interesting, and like Slade's first disc, they inject enough cover material to make the product interesting for those who had never heard of this group. "Down on Philips Escalator" could be early Syd Barrett Pink Floyd, and that's what makes this album so very inviting. As essential to the Amboy Dukes' catalog as the non-hit material on Psychedelic Lollipop was to the Blues Magoos, the first album from the Amboy Dukes is a real find and fun listening experience. "The Lovely Lady" almost sounds like the Velvet Underground meets the Small Faces by way of Peanut Butter Conspiracy. This is a far cry from Cat Scratch Fever, and that's why fans of psychedelia and '60s music should cherish this early diamond.

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