Five years ago TED NUGENT made an album called "Craveman" that shocked many long-time fans for the quality of songwriting and guitar-driven heaviness that had been missing from his albums for over a decade. One could say that its predecessor, "Spirit of the Wild", was the actual return-to-form album, and I would not necessarily argue. But "Craveman" is the disc that I had been waiting for from a guy whose enormous ego always seemed to get in the way of making the kind of racket that made his '70s work so strong. Having been fooled before, I was skeptical of whether the Motor City Madman could follow up with another album that was up to snuff. After hearing the painfully goofy "Girl Scout Cookies" live at a NUGENT show a year ago I wasn't expecting much. Fortunately, it is the only sub par tune on solid hard rock disc from Uncle Ted.Kicking off with a classic NUGENT riff and a basic, but enjoyable, chorus on the title track, one can hear what a fine job producer Jack Blades, in cooperation with NUGENT, has done with the release. Good instrument separation and a biting guitar tone make a big difference. This time with bassist Barry Sparks (Blades plays some bass as well) and drummer Tommy Clufetos, there are numerous, up-tempo boogie scorchers, this time with a decidedly old R&B feel to the guitar work on several tracks. The driving and catchy "Still Raising Hell" and the frantic tempo and typical NUGE lyrical fare of "Funk U", as well as "Aborigine", "Bridge Over Troubled Daughters", "Stand", and "Broadside" all burn with hard rock fire and plenty of NUGENT guitar histrionics. As for "Girl Scout Cookies", the down 'n' dirty rhythm is tolerable, but the lyrics are absolutely horrible. A handful of tracks will go down as some of Uncle Ted's better contributions to hard rock, starting with the 2007 rendition of THE AMBOY DUKES' "Journey to the Center of the Mind". The 40-year-old tune is given a heavy makeover, but still sounds as melodically stimulating as the original. Rather than being butchered, the new rendition works exceedingly well. With a stuttering, R&B shuffle and a catchy chorus, "Geronimo & Me" is a keeper, as is the light 'n' bluesy "Spirit of the Buffalo". Always a master of the instrumental, the creeping tempo and slide licks of "EagleBrother", and the straight, slow-burn blues of "Lay with Me" rounds out the batch. For all his lunatic rants and self-delusional, right wing diatribes, TED NUGENT can still play a mean guitar in a way that only he can. Fortunately, he woke up some years ago and started realizing that an improvement in songwriting was necessary to make his albums anything more than guitar wankery with slapped-together songs. The bottom line is that "Love Grenade" is a good hard rock release.
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