Ted Nugent Flexes Detroit Muscle
Ted Nugent Detroit Muscle Review
By Mike Tomano
© 2022 Michael Tomano / Fossil Entertainment Group
Henry Rollins once asked Ted Nugent, “What is it with you Detroit guys? You guys are so good!” Well, the answer lies in the grooves of Nugent’s latest album, Detroit Muscle.
The title track opens with sage advice, “Strap your ass in...” “Detroit Muscle”, a musical Mopar with the determination of James Brown crossin’ state lines on his rims. Rock & Roll Horsepower. Full Throttle. Welcome aboard the Goodship Nuge 2022! “Motor City Soul gonna make you scream!” indeed! The song celebrates the city that gave birth to the sonic grit of Motown, the likes of The Amboy Dukes, Bob Seger, MC5, Grand Funk, The Stooges and the blue-collar strength it once personified.
Next up is Nugent’s definitive battle cry for freedom, “Come and Take It,” a terse, gigantic middle-finger to gun grabbers. An anthemic chorus, perfect for a family sing-a-long, is complimented by a raw groove and blistering solo.
Check out the video for "Come and Take It" here:
Ted’s homage to his hometown and Motown sound continues in “Born in the Motor City,” tracing the roots of Ted’s musical upbringing and the formidable force of Motown and its incomparable Funk Brothers.
Friendship never glows as brightly as it does around a campfire. “American Campfire” brings that simple activity to its core, defining the good left in America and the golden camaraderie that shines around the campfire.
Gather ‘round and let the spirit soar here:
A bluesy grind kicks off “Drivin’ Blind.” Melodic guitar runs are sprinkled throughout the verses, settling into a slower tempo instrumental bridge and sizzling guitar that recalls the greasy note-bending of Albert King, and a harmony chorus that sticks in your head. Lyrically, it’s a reflection on learning and moving ahead. Quit flirtin’ with disaster, and don’t get caught drivin’ blind. Sounds like a plan. Live. Learn. Rock On with Yer Bad Self.
“Just Leave Me Alone” is an uptempo hard rock gem, The Nuge growling his desire to do things his own way. Ya think? Yes, please. Crank it up.
“Alaska” is a passionate call for conservation of the great state, a beacon of wildlife and habitat and American freedom. A definite comparison can be made to the gritty, grinding Rhythm & Blues, hard rock soul music style that provided the cloth (loincloth?) from which Ted’s music was cut. Preservation and respect for Alaska’s (and America’s) wilderness and freedom is of paramount concern, as is the need to preserve and respect fervid, raw artistic expression.
In his 1970’s classic, “Great White Buffalo,” Ted stated hope for tomorrow, if we wake up today; In “Alaska,” the premiere voice in American Conservation poses a similar notion, hoping we don’t regret mishandling the majesty of “The Last Frontier” by leaving it to the insane game of bureaucracy.
The Great Outdoors come alive in a classic Nugent instrumental “WinterSpring SummerFall”, evoking the sounds and sights of the changing seasons, vast fields, deep woods, birdsong, and open water. I personally have long used Nugent instrumentals to fuel my psych in preparation for a day afield or on the way to work. This one joins “Hibernation,” “Homebound,” “Free Flight,” “Earthtones,” “Scottish Tea,” and others for frequent repeat listening on the way to the radio station, river or treestand.
In my initial listening to the album, I was cruising along, smiling, laughing, playing air guitar, and making mental notes for this review. When my c.d. hit the track, “Leave the Lights On,” I had to pull the truck over and soak it in completely.
When my father passed away in 2005, Ted told me, “He’s alive forever in your love,” a quote that’s resonated in me ever since and a sentiment I’ve returned to time and time again when saying an earthly farewell to dear ones. This special song, in honor of Ted’s late brother John, offers a cathartic look at saying goodbye. Just amazing. Breathtaking. Beautiful.
Strap yourself back in.
“Feedback GrindFIRE” is a take-no-prisoners Gonzo exercise that rips your head off, pisses down your neck and slams you into a brick wall. Feedback. Grind. Fire. The essential ingredients to Rock and Roll; the musical Holy Grail Nugent has sought since first hearing Chuck Berry and Little Richard. That adrenaline pumping power that comes from electric guitars and sexual energy, spontaneous combustion occurring within spontaneous composition. The power of uninhibited music gushes forth in three minutes, fourteen seconds; by the end of which the band and their instruments are left in a smoldering heap, as a snickering Ted heads out to “go fishing.”
The album closes with a ferocious version of “Star Spangled Banner” that would cause Francis Scott Key and John Stafford Smith to dance naked around a buffalo carcass.
Ted's forte has always been combining the danceability of Motown classics, the soul of black blues artists and the savage nature of hard-rock into one indefinable, unlimited source of creativity. Ted's Great Outdoors lifestyle and primal escapades drip into every note played or sang, making him unique in the world of music.
Detroit Muscle is an incredible, diverse album that exemplifies all things Nuge. The production by Michael Lutz and Ted is stunningly clear, which makes a vinyl copy in addition to my travelin’ compact disc a must. Nugent’s guitar tone is butter-slathered barbed-wire, at once both creamy and razor-sharp. Bassist Greg Smith proves once again why he is regarded as a master, mixing melodic counterparts and driving thunder in the low end. Drummer Jason Hartless continues to shine, adding jazzy flourishes and bluesy finesse to his piledriving beats. Ted’s guitar playing is top-notch, from heart-wrenching blues bends to blistering rapid-note firestorms.
Ted Loves Freedom. Ted Loves Music. Ted Loves Nature. That package of passions comes complete in Detroit Muscle, available wherever music is sold and at TedNugent.com
This is music to be played loud and proud.
If you’re looking for musical adventure, let Unka Ted flex his Detroit Muscle in your ears, heart and soul.
Hear #TedNugent discuss his creative process here: