35 Years Ago: Ted Nugent Releases His Second Concert Album, ‘Intensities In 10 Cities’
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When Ted Nugent presented fans with his second live album, Intensities in 10 Cities, in March 1981, you could say that his career was at a crossroads. Balancing tenuously on the threshold between boom or bust, feast or famine, hunter or hunted. All of which was somewhat hard to come to grips with for those who’d witnessed the larger-than-life guitar god’s incredible run through the second half of the ’70s.
Over that mercurial period, the Amboy Dukes survivor had finally broken free of that band and launched a wildly successful solo career, selling millions of copies of guitar-hero textbooks like 1975’s self-titled solo debut, 1976’s Free-for-All and 1977’s Cat Scratch Fever, only to endure steadily diminishing albums sales for subsequent LPs like Weekend Warriors (from 1978), State of Shock (1979) and 1980’s Scream Dream.
But if Nugent’s creative juices seemed to have watered down significantly inside the recording studio, his natural star power and instrumental prowess remained largely untainted in his natural habitat: the concert stage. And so, as he neared the end of his contractual commitment to Epic Records at the dawn of the ’80s, a live album culled from the final dates of his 1980 tour was cooked up.
Intensities in 10 Cities cherry-picked the best tunes and performances from those dates, and, at its best, almost recalled 1977’s landmark Double Live Gonzo with such fiery highlights as “Spontaneous Combustion,” “Jailbait” (complete with Gonzoid intro rap) and the inimitable “My Love Is Like a Tire Iron.”
Other raging hard rockers like the Charlie Huhn-sung “Put Up or Shut Up,” a positively relentless “Heads Will Roll” and a spirited cover of “Land of 1,000 Dances” weren’t very far behind, but the remaining cuts ranged from merely average to downright dull, replicating the inconsistent nature of Nugent’s current output.
And there was no turning Nugent’s diminishing sales around at this point: Intensities stalled at No. 51 on the album chart and didn’t even reach the gold sales plateau attained by its predecessors. Instead of heralding a return to commercial form, the album nailed the final coffin in Nugent’s relationship with Epic, which chose not to renew his contract.
Nugent quickly found a new home at Atlantic Records, but he never reached the heights of his ’70s work. Albums like Nugent (1982), Penetrator (1984), Little Miss Dangerous (1986) and If You Can’t Lick ‘Em … Lick ‘Em (1988) each performed more poorly than its predecessor, while catering to ‘80s production standards that only domesticated the formerly untamable rock ‘n’ roll wild man.
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