THE ALBUM -- Ted Nugent, "Scream Dream," Epic (FE 36404).; THE SHOW -- At the Capital Centre, this Sunday.
When fans refer to Ted Nugent as "Terrible Ted," they mean it as a compliment. Those with lower threshholds of pain may have a different sort of terrible in mind.
On his latest album, "Scream Dream," Ted delivers the usual screeching and caustic talk. Guts-spilling lyrics accompany a repetitive bass line, relentless drums, mock "ooh-ooh" backup chorus and more screeching. The themes swing between amusing and repulsive, depending on your politics. Ted's politics are clearest on his hit single "Wango Tango," which purports to be a "new dance sensation, sweeping the nation" with motorcycle jargon thrown in. The rhythm has nothing in common with a tango.
Since the mid-'60s, Nugent has followed his animalistic tendencies on vinyl, proving himself a wild beast first with the Amboy Dukes and later forming his own group. By now the Motor City Madman has mastered the heavy-metal school of hard rock, and it doesn't get much meaner than this.
The pattern of sexual, physical and emotional abuse in song, minus melody, apparently has staying power for Nugent. But he can't claim much in the way of diversity or sensitivity. The title track rehashes the opening number's screeches into a nightmarish brew of screams, squeezing similar high voltage and harsh chords out of the guitars. Threatening to leave listeners with headaches at any hour, his records really seem out of focus if played before 10 p.m.
Like earlier albums by the hunter/guitarist ("Cat Scratch Fever," "Double Live Gonzo," "Weekend Warriors" and "State of Shock"), "Scream Dream" is in the joking but violent vein. Besides the sexual taunts, jeers and come-ons, Nugent specializes in blood-and-guts themes. He's written tunes with titles like "A Thousand Knives," "Death By Misadventure" and "Bite Down Hard." All come complete with pain-inflicting guitar riffs. This is humor? Howling for what seems like an eternity, Nugent gives his youthful followers what they pay to hear: Pandemonium with a beat. Too loud to be distinct, the crass words are hardly meant to be appreciated anyway.
Perhaps Nugent's musical assaults should come with a warning label, taken from another of his songs: "Spit It Out." Once you've chewed over one cut, you've tasted them all.