No. 24: Ted Nugent, ‘Stranglehold’ – Top 100 Classic Rock Songs
It would be a shame if Ted Nugent was remembered by future generations more for his outlandish personality and controversial political and hunting views than for his music. Thanks to songs like ‘Stranglehold,’ however, that’s not very likely to happen.
In recent years, despite fronting one of the most dependably inspiring live shows you can witness — year after year after year — “Uncle Ted” gets far more attention for criticizing liberals or violating wildlife laws then he does for having merged Motown funk and soul with primal Chuck Berry rock and roll so effortlessly.
Granted, some of that is due to the fact that his studio work hasn’t reached the same heights as his undeniably brilliant ’70s albums, including the 1975 self-titled solo debut that features the epic musical explorations of opening track ‘Stranglehold.’
Kicking off with one of rock’s most famous, stuttering and funky guitar riffs (“real f—ing simple, as long as you got the f—-ing attitude,” as he declares on 2001’s live ‘Full Bluntal Nugity’ album), ‘Stranglehold’ quickly locks into place with a deep, hypnotic and vaguely psychedelic bass-and-drums groove that allows Nugent to roam far and wide with his guitar. Which is exactly what he did, reportedly in an incredibly spontaneous single take while demonstrating the song to his bandmates in the recording studio.
“‘Stranglehold’ is a masterpice of jammology,” he tells GuitarWorld. “I was showing my rhythm section the right groove for the song… we were going to leave a hole there so that I could overdub a solo later. Then I started playing lead work, just kind of filling in and though I had never played those licks before in my life, they all just came to me.”
Despite the objections of his engineers, Nugent decided to leave the results untouched for the final record. The song has gone onto become one of his twin calling cards — shout out to ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ — a classic rock radio staple, and our choice for a high spot on our Top 100 Classic Rock Songs list.
More importantly, we’re confident that long after the overblown fuss has died down regarding what he did with his off-stage life, the mastery and magic of this fortuitously captured moment will stand the test of time as an important part of both Nugent’s and rock and roll’s history.
Watch Ted Nugent Perform ‘Stranglehold’