I don’t think you appreciated me enough. You see, I suffer to bring you stories here and man did I suffer last night! I listened to the entirety of Ted Nugent’s Cat Scratch Fever. Of course, the only reason I listened to it is because Nugent is such a nut. But I kept an open mind, because I don’t expect artists I like to necessarily be sane. In fact, some of them are downright evil. As you may remember, I praised Adolf Hitler’s artwork recently. So via YouTube, I listened to the whole of Cat Scratch Fever in order, mostly looking at Ted’s stupid 1970s mustache.
On Wikipedia, where I went to get the track list, I found that AllMusic gave the album 4.5 stars (out of 5). I don’t hold to rock critics generally; their opinions of music seem to me almost random; they decide what mark they are going to give an album and then they justify it in the most pretentious way possible. But I’ve found that AllMusic is at least reasonable. And what’s more, I tend to agree with them about the arc of music careers; they are usually close in terms of what albums mark the high and low points of any given career. And in their opinion, Cat Scratch Fever is the high water mark of Nugent’s career.
The only song I remember hearing before is the title track. But it is hard to say because the album is shockingly generic. Even the title song barely breaks the water out of mediocrity. Again and again listening to the album I tried to imagine what was going on in popular music at that time. On the one hand, you had The Trammps’ amazing Disco Inferno. On the other, you had the Ramones’ glorious second album Leave Home. So it perhaps isn’t surprising that when it came to good ol’ fashioned rock, the bar was set pretty low.
What is remarkable about the album is how good the band is. These guys can play and yes, Ted Nugent really is an excellent guitarist. But for me, this works against the album. I like messy. I like out of control. And the Ted Nugent band sounds like a bunch of studio musicians—they are that good. So you have this mix of amateurish songwriting with top level but uninspired playing and producing. But I can see how people would have enjoyed this record at the time, especially as party music. And the band was doubtlessly fantastic live.
It’s weird, though. Ted Nugent is such a loose cannon. I thought his music would be wild. It makes me think that he really is what people like Bill O’Reilly always claim to be: just a character. Certainly, implying publicly that he was going to assassinate Obama if he were re-elected strikes me as pandering to an audience. I wonder how much of it is real. Regardless, Cat Scratch Fever is at best 90% product and 10% art. And I can’t image why anyone would be interested in listening to it today.
The strongest track on the album is the unfortunately titled “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang.” As usual, the vocals are under mixed so you can’t easily make out the lyrics. (Smart producer!)