CD Review of Love Grenade by Ted Nugent
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Ted Nugent: Love Grenade

Reviewed by Jeff Giles


oughly two decades ago, Ted Nugent was all dried up – “Cat Scratch Fever” was ten years behind him, nobody was buying his new albums, and he had been reduced to opening for Kiss on their 1988 tour. Flash-forward a couple of years, and Ted’s in heavy rotation on MTV, kicking down a door and delivering a guitar solo in a hail of phony bullets during Damn Yankees’ “High Enough” video, resplendent in wraparound shades and what looks like one of Bea Arthur’s housecoats.

That’s Ted Nugent in a nutshell. You can never count him out, no matter how much you might want to, because he understands precisely two things: The art of playing guitar, and the art of self-promotion. After Damn Yankees ran its course, Ted learned he could get easy publicity for appearing on talk radio programs and saying the stupidest shit he could think of – which is why, these days, people who have never heard a lick of “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” know exactly who Nugent is; they’ve seen him goofing around on reality television, or heard his verbal explosions on the radio.

All of which is not only great for Nugent’s career but wholly appropriate, given that the Motor City Madman hasn’t recorded anything worth listening to since the late ‘70s. It isn’t so much that Nugent’s albums are awful, because, again, he’s a fine guitarist; it’s just that once you’ve heard one, you’ve heard them all. It should come as no surprise, in other words, that Love Grenade’s songs focus mainly on sex, macho libertarian posturing, and Native American fetishizing, or that the “special edition” cover depicts a naked woman, bound and gagged (with a grenade) on top of a plate of food.

It would be easy to criticize songs like “Funk U,” “Girl Scout Cookies,” and “Bridge over Troubled Daughters” as lewd, perverted, socially backwards, etc. – but that would be beside the point, because those are Nugent’s artistic goals, and if they rub you the wrong way, that’s your problem, bub. No, what’s wrong with this record is that it’s boring. It’s one thing to be loud and dumb; it’s quite another to be loud, dumb, and dull, and that’s what Nugent is throughout these 13 tracks.

It isn’t like he ever really had anything exciting to say, but ‘classic’ Nuge cuts such as “Cat Scratch Fever” at least had a raw rock & roll honesty going for them, and they were often sonically as dirty as they were thematically. Here, you get the sense that even Nugent’s dim bulb must have registered how rote these songs are. The performances are absolutely proficient, and Jack Blades’ production is sparkling clean, but all that means is that you get a nice stereo separation to go with a collection of songs that sounds like nothing more than a compilation of lost Bullet Boys B-sides. Nugent was an entertaining cartoon in the ‘70s, and he’s still a savvy businessman today – but as a singer and/or songwriter, he’s a dud, and so is Grenade.

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