Ted Nugent – Ultralive Ballisticrock.

Ted live albumI’ve been a fan of Ted Nugent for at least 35 years, bought all his albums and 6 of these  have been live  so to me it seemed a strange decision to release another one especially as the concert was recorded over 2 years ago on his I Still Believe US tour. Personally I would have liked to have heard a new studio album as it has been over 6 years since the release of Love Grenade.

The album is titled Ultralive Ballisticrock and certainly lives up to its name as even then at the ripe old age of 63, Ted is still firing on all cylinders and the album was released in Europe on Oct.18th and in North America Oct.22nd via Frontiers Records. There is a  deluxe edition digipak consisting of 2 x CD’s + DVD video of the show,a DVD/Blu-Ray and a digital download available. It sounds very raw and all the better for it as Ted has got a very tight band with him on this tour. Of course Ted is the lead guitarist but he now shares vocal duties once again with Derek St.Holmes who sang on Ted’s early solo releases after he disbanded the Amboy Dukes in the mid 70’s. On drums is Mick Brown from Dokken and ex-Rainbow bassist Greg Smith and both contribute fine backing vocals.

Ted seems very fired up for this show as apart from his virtuoso  guitar playing and manic vocals he raps a lot before some of the later songs in the set. I’ve always been a fan of Ted’s music but not his political views so they take a bit of the enjoyment off the album as his earlier live albums were just about the music but the audience seem to lap it up anyway. The set weighs heavy on Ted’s late 70’s material,many of the songs featured on the seminal 1978 release Double Live Gonzo and he still plays them with the intensity he did way back then. The only new song here is the patriotic I Still Believe.

I reviewed the album by watching the dvd to appreciate the visuals as well as the audio. The live footage was captured and recorded by 7 cameras on 5.1 audio mix at Penn’s Peak,Pennsylvania  and the show kicks off with an earthshaking Free For All from the 1976 album of the same name as Ted launches into the classic riff after a big guitar solo but i have never understood why the song never made it onto Double Live Gonzo back in the day. Ted is more static onstage these days but his guitar playing still impresses especially when playing his Gibson Byrdland sending out wave after wave of sonic feedback. Stormtroopin follows with Derek on vocals and although his hair is now white,his voice has never wavered. An elongated Wango Tango from the 1980 release Scream Dream features one of Ted’s angriest riffs and he brings 3 female dancers onstage to fire the crowd up even more.

As Ted hits the main riff to Just What The Doctor Ordered, Derek nails the opening scream as he did over 30 years  ago with ease with yet more show stealing guitar from Ted. Another stone cold classic, Wang Dang Sweet Poontang is stretched out for the band to jam and features a rare guitar solo from Derek. A welcome return for Need You Bad from the 1978 album Weekend Warriors features a lead vocal from bassist Greg Smith,hitting some impressive notes originally sung by Charlie Huhn after a lengthy guitar spot from Ted showing that he has lost none of his speed followed by Turn It Up,another rarely played classic that begins with a lengthy hunting rap from Ted. Derek again delivers a killer vocal as Ted delivers the catchy main riff all through the song.

The raps keep coming as Ted talks about the US military which leads into a hard hitting Raw Dogs,War Hogs from the 2007 release Craveman. It drives along on a speedy fluid riff similar to Motor City Madhouse. Of course a political song like Dog Eat Dog would feature another political rap about arming American citizens,another song which should have made the Double Live Gonzo album. Hey Baby is next as Ted introduces the song by saying it was written by Derek,a funky little number again stretched out from the 1975 original with Derek once again hitting those all important high notes. One of my latter-day favourites (even though it was released 18 years ago) is next,the mighty Fred Bear. Ted wrote and dedicated it to the man who taught him how to hunt. Ted teases the crowd until he hits the main riff and as the song progresses the emotion in his voice and guitar playing are there to see. The only new song  I Still Believe,a very patriotic number which Ted sings with great emotion but it is not a bonafide classic in the making.

So now the big hitters come to the fore as Ted delivers a highly charged Motor City Madhouse. Its far removed from the lunacy of the version on Double Live Gonzo but it’s still a tour de force in the set with Ted making his Byrdland roar with some howling feedback. Ted’s biggest hit Cat Scratch Fever never fails to satisfy with Ted still singing with lecherous glee after all these years! Ted’s guitar prowess is put to the max on a thudding rendition of Stranglehold,introduced as “the number 1 guitar lick in the world” and it would be a brave man that disagrees with him as he controls the feedback to hum and whine throughout its 11 minute duration. There is only one way that Ted can finish a gig and that is with Great White Buffalo as he dons his Indian headdress and straps on his white Gibson Byrdland to tell the tale of the animal’s struggle with illegal hunters. The song has progressed from the original as the band jam parts of Spirit Of The Wild into it and Ted fires up the crowd at the end of the song by hanging up his guitar and shooting it with a flaming arrow but the song ends in an over the top kind of way with all the band donning US army hard hats,holding machine guns and planting a huge American flag onto the stage as a “The Shores Of Tripoli” plays over the p.a system!

So Ultralive Ballisticrock is not one of Ted’s greatest live albums he has released but after all these years I still really enjoyed seeing him playing those old songs all over again and eagerly await UK dates.

Band line up :

  • Ted Nugent – Lead guitar/vocals.
  • Derek St.Holmes – Rhythm guitar/vocals.
  • Mick Brown – Drums.
  • Greg Smith – Bass guitar.

Disc 1 CD :-

  • Free For All.
  • Stormtroopin.
  • Wango Tango.
  • Just What The Doctor Ordered.
  • Wang Dang Sweet Poontang.
  • Need You Bad.
  • Turn It Up.
  • Raw Dogs & War Hogs.
  • Dog Eat Dog.

Disc 2 CD :-

  • Hey Baby.
  • Fred Bear.
  • I Still Believe.
  • Motor City Madhouse.
  • Cat Scratch Fever.
  • Stranglehold.
  • Great White Buffalo.

The DVD – Video has the same track listing with the following bonus features :-

  • Spirit Of The Wild.
  • The Making Of Ultralive Ballisticrock.

 

 

Ultralive Ballisticrock (Live)[amazonmp3 asin=”B00FJPCW5C”][amazonmp3 asin=”B00FJPCW5C”]

About Dennis Jarman

Full time downtrodden album/gig reviewer and part time rock God!
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