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Setlist: The Very Best of Ted Nugent (Live)

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Album Review

Sony’s Setlist series isn’t a standard budget-line compilation: these discs bypass hits in favor of live tracks cut throughout the years, mixing up highlights from classic live albums with a handful of rarities, including some unreleased cuts. In the case of Ted Nugent’s entry, the disc contains highlights from Double Live Gonzo, Intensities in 10 Cities, and Live at Hammersmith ’79, along with cuts issued as bonus tracks on expanded versions of Free for All and Cat Scratch Fever. There are no previously unreleased cuts, so the hardcore won’t find much need for this, but anybody looking for a live sampler of Nugent in his ‘70s prime should find this a blast.

Customer Reviews

The Motor City Madman’s hammer of the gods

The Legacy division of Sony continues to explore new ways to keep the CD relevant. Their Playlist series was the first out of the gate with eco-friendly packaging that used 100% recycled cardboard, no plastic, and on-disc PDFs in place of paper booklets. Their new Setlist series follows the same path of a single disc that provides an aficionado’s snapshot of an artist’s catalog. In this case the anthologies turn from the studio to the stage, pulling together tracks from an artist’s live repertoire, generally all previously released, but in a few cases adding previously unreleased items. As with the Playlist collections, the Setlist discs aren’t greatest hits packages; instead, they forgo some obvious catalog highlights to give listeners a chance to hear great, lesser-known songs from the artist’s stage act. While Ted Nugent’s conservative politics, pro-hunting agenda (including the canned hunts he leads on his fenced-in hunting ranch) and associations with the Tea Party and Glenn Beck have alienated him from parts of the rock ‘n’ roll crowd, the power and volume of his mid-70s live shows still command respect. His dates with the classic line-up of Derek St. Holmes (guitar), Rob Grange (bass) and Clifford Davies (drums) were documented on 1978’s Double Live Gonzo!, and the next edition of his band produced Live at Hammersmith ’79. Additional live albums followed (including Intensities in 10 Cities), as did live bonus cuts on reissues of Free for All and Cat Scratch Fever. All ten tracks here are taken from these existing releases, no previously unreleased material is included. The heart of this set is seven tracks recorded in 1977-78 with the seminal band line-up. These are the hard rock, ear-bleeding guitar hero sounds that form the core of Nugent’s legend as a live performer. Of course, anyone who actually saw Nugent live during this era – a time before most realized that wearing ear protection at concerts was a good idea – may need to turn it up a little for full effect. At least you won’t have to suffer through Nugent leaving his guitar feeding back at top volume while he waits to be called back for an encore. The song list includes the concert opener “Just What the Doctor Ordered” and soon-to-be fan favorites “Cat Scratch Fever” and “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” recorded on the Cat Scratch Fever album tour. Nugent even reaches back to the Amboy Dukes’ debut single for the collection’s closing cover of “Baby, Please Don’t Go.” The anthology format leaves gaps between the tracks rather than blending the audience response, and the pauses slightly lessen the impact of Nugent’s aural onslaught. Noticeably missing is the concert favorite, “Stranglehold,” which could have fit, given the disc’s 60-minute running time; and if not, the bland blues workout “Lip Lock” could have been dropped. You do get the 15-minute instrumental “Hibernation,” but its guitar noodling, pyrotechnics and feedback don’t build the tension or offer the catharsis of “Stranglehold.” Those wanting a taste of Nugent’s live act may prefer this less expensive introduction, but the classic Double Live Gonzo offers a better opportunity to really submit yourself in the Motorcity Madman’s hammer of the gods. 3-1/2 stars, if allowed fractional ratings. [©2010 hyperbolium dot com]


Born: December 13, 1948 in Detroit, MI

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Throughout his lengthy career, guitar wildman Ted Nugent has reveled in the controversy and criticism that always seems to follow in his path. While there's no denying his exceptional talent on the six-string, his knack for penning arena rock anthems, or his standing as one of rock's top live acts, it's his non-musical endeavors that have caused the most condemnation from his detractors (his pro-right wing beliefs, pro-gun advocacy, appreciation of hunting animals, etc.). But by the same token, Nugent...
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