The Amboy Dukes

Call of the Wild

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Would author Jack London be appalled? A table set with freshly killed game on back of this 1974 release by the trio known as Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes has the guitar being edged out of the picture by a rifle while using London's famous book title as a handle for the music inside. Not as blistering as his Cat Scratch Fever, but more metallic than the psychedelia/blues of the original Amboy Dukes, the riff-jamming opening track of side two is more Jeff Beck gone rock than the quasi-Ozzie persona Nugent gleefully would embrace. The opening and title track plays more like the band Spirit or Jo Jo Gunne, and "Sweet Revenge" maintains its pop sensibilities enough to keep it from going off the scale -- it lifts a Grass Roots melody from "Things I Should Have Said," the album taking liberally from AM and FM radio of the day. "Pony Express" is a strange amalgam of '60s out-of-the-garage/heading-toward-stadiums riff rock, nicking the melody from Deep Purple's "Highway Star," which was released on Machine Head the year before. "Ain't It the Truth" ends side one with a "Jumpin' Jack Flash"-plus piano boogie number. "Rot Gut" on side two could be Joe Perry emulatingJeff Beck on "Red House," while "Below the Belt" is adventurous vamping on the Rolling Stones' "2000 Light Years From Home" riff, de facto band member Gabe Magno's keyboards and flute add some depth to the proceedings, and it is interesting stuff that you wouldn't expect from either the original Amboy Dukes or the madman the world knows as Ted Nugent. Side two plays like one long jam; highly creative stuff that the album cover of a tiger penetrating a sleeping city hardly hints at. Drummer Vic Mastrianni would later find himself on records by Crystal Gayle, Reba McEntire, and joining The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. The mostly instrumental second side culminates in a heavy vocal progressive rocker, "Cannon Balls." It's Ted Nugent going through another mutation, but shows him as more diverse and adventurous than he sometimes gets credit for. It's nice to see bassist/vocalist Rob Grange stay onboard the ever changing merry-go-round here that was the Amboy Dukes.

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