Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ted Nugent ~ Spirit Of The Wild

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: hard rock
Label: Atlantic
Year: 1995
Home: Michigan

Members: Ted Nugent ~ guitars/vocals

Derek St. Holmes ~ lead vocals
Denny Carmassi ~ drums
Michael Lutz ~ bass/keyboards/b. vocals

Additional: Benny Rappa ~ drums/b. vocals

Gunner Ross, Larry Fretangelo ~ drums
Doug Banker ~ piano/b. vocals

Ted Nugent is famous for his "Cat Scratch Fever" 1970's Motor City Man/wild child blazing guitar rock, a member of the even earlier Amboy Dukes & his incredibly vocal activism for an array of traditional causes that has followed in more recent decades. For a brief moment in the early 90's, as hair metal was being stomped on by grunge, he was also in the supergroup Damn Yankees with Styx's Tommy Shaw & Night Ranger's Jack Blades. Sadly, what has become the dominating feature of his reputation has been his activism. There's nothing wrong with any of that & he speaks passionately on issues many other musicians avoid for less controversial topics ... usually ones that don't involve firearms & hunting. But, Nugent is really a musician first & foremost & it's that career that gave him the opportunity to be a spokesman. Things weren't helped by an& 80's musical output that was sub-par overly commercial pop colliding with musical indulgence marking a low point of his career that helped induced a shifting of priorities to non-musical endeavors. But, for a moment in 1995, just after Damn Yankees folded, Nugent threw out probably the best album since 1977's Cat Scratch Fever, let alone one of the best of his career with the perfectly titled, for him, Spirit Of The Wild. Featuring long time vocalist Derek St. Holmes & drummer Denny Carmassi whose played with Montrose, Sammy Hagar, Heart & David Coverdale extensively. What makes it so good is that it's a return to the 70's wildman spirit that keeps the indulgence in check, doesn't worry about MTV commercial appeal & strips away all the plastic studio excesses that killed the wild mood during the 80's. Further, it doesn't hide any of Nugent's ideology behind sappy love songs & other generic rock topics but sings proudly about nature, animal rights, guns, American freedoms, Indians, hunting, living/dying in skid row & the law of the land. Sometimes he promotes his ideology (i.e. "Kiss My Ass") but at other times he's confessing his fears for the future & the direction society is moving (i.e. "Just Do It Like This"). Some will condemn his ideas as conservative or traditional, but the closest anyone will get to these terms are a few songs calling up Indian imagery (i.e. "Primitive Man", "Fred Bear", "Tooth, Fang & Claw") that are basically saying Nugent, who pens all the tracks, is just defending his right to have the spirit of the wild run through him as his ancestors & forefathers did. No one would call an Indian who wants to still hunt down the paths his grandfathers walked out of touch with reality or conservative or traditional. You get the feeling Nugent sees himself in the same mold, or wearing the same loincloth. One may not agree with Nugent's or my premise but it's hard to deny that it makes for far more interesting lyrics than what many bands churn out, except for maybe Iron Maiden. As for the music it's wild with nearly every track strong & in your face with gritty guitar solos. There's only one real weak track in "Hot Or Col" that sounds far too close to the Rolling Stone's "Shattered". Nugent has a guitar style that isn't the power metal of the 80's nor is it overwhelmed with distortion & is a throwback to past days. The songs chuck along like a locomotive with all sorts of variety absent from modern guitar playing. It's hard to describe until you hear it. This would be his only studio album in the 1990's before going back to active duty on the frontlines going from an axe slinger to gun slinger & even tv star. But, for those that need a reminder of why Nugent is famous in the first place check out this smoking gun & enjoy the hunt.




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