Ted Nugent


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You cannot stop Ted Nugent -- heck, you can't even hope to ignore him. Remarkably, even as his musical profile dwindled to near-zero within the greater pop/rock conscience in the late 90s, Nugent cleverly re-asserted himself via his vocal defense of his hard-line conservative politics, arguably achieving even more notoriety in the process, and obtaining an afterlife of sorts for his bread and butter: the music. Not only that, his renewed zest for aggressive self-expression has translated quite positively to his musical direction, making 2002's Craveman (his 19th -- count 'em -- studio L.P. as a solo artist) his fiercest effort in decades, and certainly his heaviest ever. Having realized that any attempt at subtlety or grace would be a waste of his precious hunting time, even "Damned if You Do," which sees him reunited with former Damn Yankees bandmates Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades, is surprisingly ballsy and un-cheesy. Admittedly, Nugent's songwriting ain't what it used to be in the '70s, when his wildman antics and flaming guitar acrobatics created the legend that is; but it's also nowhere near as lame as his confused '80s persona, when too much studio tampering transformed his mighty roar into a glossy whimper. No, Craveman's opening number, the nonsensical "KLSTRPHNKY," is, quite literally, a Kid Rock song, and therefore firmly entrenched in the new millennium. But as the album begins to unfold, Nugent steers his inspirational monster truck straight down memory lane, so that old-school fans will quickly begin drawing parallels with the man's '70s glory days. For example: "Rawdogs & Warhogs" and "Going Down Hard" replicate the Meat Loaf-sung ditties of old and "At Home There" emulates the slide guitar-heavy strut of "Stranglehold," while the main melody riff of "I Won't Go Away" is a ringer for "Just what the Doctor Ordered," and so it goes. Nostalgic? Most definitely. Revisionist? Not exactly -- at least not in any amount that will offend the faithful. Ultimately, the statute of limitations has pretty much expired for labeling this release a 'return to form,' but suffice to say that Craveman arguably constitutes the first truly worthy new entry to the Ted Nugent discography in well nigh 20 years.

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