Released: May 13th, 1977
Regardless how people feel about Ted Nugent’s more recent endeavors, it would be foolish to ignore the contributions he made to Hard-Rock in the 70’s and 80’s. Cat Scratch Fever, Nugent’s third studio album, is one of those more well-known contributions. In particular the title track on Cat Scratch Fever is one of the most recognizable Rock songs to be released in the past 50-60 years, and that says a lot about Nugent’s ability to write catchy guitar hooks and fun lyrics, which this album is filled with. For those few that thought the album Cat Scratch Fever began and ended with the title track, they are missing an excellent collection of some of the hardest hitting Rock songs of the 70’s.
Ted Nugent’s nickname, The Motor City Madman, seems well deserved on this album. The sound of the instruments being played is wild and unruly. The band playing behind Nugent doing everything they can to keep up, the drummer throwing in random fills whenever time allows, and the bassist doing everything he can to stay out of Nugent’s way. Nugent’s raspy voice is always in a half yell, refusing to be contained, singing about women, or living fast. And then there’s the star of the show, Nugent’s guitar, tearing apart the rest of the music at the seams.
Listener’s should not confuse themselves when they listen to this album, Nugent is the main act, but he’s not there to showcase his singing, or even necessarily his ability to write songs, he’s here to show off his guitar playing skills, which are perfect for Ted Nugent’s style of unhinged, live fast die hard Rock. Nugent plays his guitar loud, and he likes to play it fast when he can. Every song sounds like he picked up his guitar and just started playing whatever he was thinking at the time. Everything sounds so simple, and that’s the beauty of an album like this. Perhaps there is a little too much repetition in the guitar solos, and maybe the guitar is turned up too loud that it drowns out the rest of the sounds, but in the moment all that the listener can think about is the incredibly catchy hooks Nugent plays. Nugent’s guitar playing makes this album, and takes it to the next level.
Fans of 70’s Hard Rock shouldn’t sleep on this album if they haven’t listened to it. In fact nobody should sleep on it. Cat Scratch Fever is one of the more enjoyable albums to listen to, and it’s the wild nature of Nugent’s songs and guitar playing that makes listeners cut loose and have fun with the music. Is it a perfect album…No. Songs don’t change much from track to track, and the topics of choice for Nugent’s lyrics are pretty one note, but much like The Motor City Madman’s feral guitar, it’s easy to overlook near all of the problems on the album when it rocks this hard, and sounds this good.