Ted Nugent’s ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ Turns 35
Ted Nugent‘s third album, the outrageous ‘Cat Scratch Fever,’ turns 35 years old this month.
The 1977 album is of course best known for its title track, which remains one of the Motor City Madman’s most beloved anthems (surpassed perhaps only by the mighty ‘Stranglehold‘), but from the strutting ‘Death by Misadventure’ to the Bo Diddley beat of ‘Live It Up’ and the storming ‘Sweet Sally,’ there’s plenty more to love on this record.
Nugent explained ‘Fever”s appeal in his typically restrained, modest manner during an InTheStudio radio special commemorating the album’s anniversary: “It’s not the cleanest, most in-tune recording of all time — which is its beauty. It’s raw, it’s a primal scream, it’s defiant, it’s irreverent — it’s the reason Les Paul electrified the damn guitar. It’s the reason Chuck Berry invented those rhythms… it didn’t fit any formula, we made a point of that — formulas are shot on site before they get anywhere near the perimeter.”
The album’s influence has revealed itself via younger generations of musicians in some pretty interesting ways. It’s side one-closing instrumental track, ‘Homebound,’ was sampled by the Beastie Boys (MCA forever!) on the ‘Check Your Head’ track ‘The Biz vs. the Nuge.’ Well, to be more accurate, they played the first 30 seconds of the song one time while their friend Biz Markie sang on top of it. It’s entertaining, at least.
You want an even better measure of how influential ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ is? A band, and a rather popular one at that, named themselves after a turn of a phrase from one of Nugent’s legendary pre-song rants, in this case introducing the album’s least subtle song, ‘Wang Dang Sweet Poontang’ — “This is a love song. I’d like to dedicate this to all that Nashville P—-”
‘Cat Scratch Fever’ was the last album to feature Nugent’s original solo band, with vocalist Derek St. Holmes and bassist Rob Grange, who had featured so prominently on the guitarist’s first three albums, departing the group prior to the release of 1978′s ‘Weekend Warriors.’
Regardless, Nugent’s career and methodology were both firmly established: “I basically shoved guitar rock and roll down the throat of American radio. I said, hey, listen, by the way ladies and gentleman — this is what the rock and roll people are digging. If you pass it up, you’re a chump!”
Watch Ted Nugent Perform ‘Cat Scratch Fever’