Top 10 Ted Nugent Songs
The best Ted Nugent songs will be with us long after any controversy over his political views or latest inflammatory quotes have faded away. In a recording career that has lasted nearly 50 years now, the Motor City Madman has blended the distorted garage rock of his hometown Detroit with soul, rhythm and blues and a heavy dose of early rock pioneers such as Chuck Berry and Little Richard. Here’s our list of the Top 10 Ted Nugent songs:
We start with a song that frequently kicks off Nugent’s shows — well, after a minute or two of madman screaming and guitar fury, anyway. ‘Stormtroopin” rides the same insistent groove throughout the verse and “Get ready / Ready / Ready” chorus, breaking only for a supercharged Chuck Berry-evoking guitar solo.
Obviously, ‘Stranglehold’ (see No. 1 on our list of the Top Ted Nugent Songs) is his ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ but this sprawling, sophisticated late-career tribute to bow-hunting pioneer Fred Bear was clearly a labor of love and source of much pride for Nugent. He recently declared that the song meant the most to him of any of his compositions: “People ask for it at their funerals, their Bar Mitzvahs, their graduations … It doesn’t get more ‘wow’ than that.”
‘Great White Buffalo’
For the last album of his decade-long tenure with the Amboy Dukes — the cover of which can be found on Wooderson’s shirt in the movie ‘Dazed and Confused’ — Nugent the hunting enthusiast delivered a heartfelt plea for environmental balance. He praised the Indians for taking only what they needed from the land, while lamenting the American businessman, “With his thick and empty head,” who “couldn’t see past the billfold (and) wanted all the buffalo dead.”
Opening with a lion’s roar (or maybe that’s a yawn) and another of Nugent’s famous chicken-scratch riffs, ‘Paralyzed’ quickly takes off into outer space thanks to a higher-than-usual reliance on guitar effects. Lyrically, our hero’s on a “mission of mercy” to save someone who lost their emotions. Never one to miss a chance for some prime peacocking, Nugent finds time for an extended unaccompanied guitar solo mid-song before resuming his quest.
‘Motor City Madhouse’
This tribute to his hometown of Detroit is of the most high energy Ted Nugent songs ever — and as you can see from the rest of this list, that’s saying something. He sings the praises of its residents and fortified motor cars, frequently interrupting himself with brief, stinging guitar solos. The track’s smoothed-out backing vocals and percolating bass demonstrate how Nugent helped bridge the gap between the Motown sound and garage rockers such as MC5 and the Stooges.
The bass and guitar groove on ‘Wango Tango’ is so deep and immediately infectious that you’re halfway through the song before you realize Uncle Ted’s got you pretending your face is a Mazarati. From there it’s a short leap to the borrowing talculm from Malcolm and buffing up the hood while searching frantically for an open garage. Yeah, we’re pretty sure there’s some metaphors in there.
‘Wang Dang Sweet Poontang’
This charmingly unsubtle Ted Nugent “love song” is only let loose for three minutes on the ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ album, but doubles in length for the following year’s must-own live document. The extra time is divided between a prime example of Ted’s tongue-twisting on-stage rants and an fine showcase of his ability to go off on extended guitar excursions without ever landing in the land of wank.
Some fool went and got themselves in Ted’s crosshairs, and now he’s psyching himself up for battle. Judging from the glee with which he spits out his battle-rhyme couplets and the looping, high pitched guitar figure that dominates the song’s back half, he’s really looking forward to it.
‘Cat Scratch Fever’
“What kind of music is this?” That’s the question Nugent rhetorically asks several times during a typical concert. The answer he provides — “SOUL music!” — gives a hint as to what separates him from other hard rockers. Picture the riff at the core of this FM radio classic performed by horns instead of a distorted guitar and you’ll see what we’re talking about.
What’s left to say about ‘Stranglehold,’ our choice for both the ultimate Ted Nugent song and the No. 24 Classic Rock Song of all time? Obviously he knows how important the track is — it leads off the first side of his debut album, and it frequently closes his concerts. From the famous opening riff to the epic (and reportedly first-take) guitar solo, not a second of its eight minutes are wasted, and by the end you know most everything you need to about Uncle Ted’s music.